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The G in Canada’s GDP

As Canada prepares for economic recovery from COVID-19, we find ourselves on the cusp of a generational technology shift, with an opportunity we cannot afford to get wrong. 5G, like no other evolution of wireless technology, will usher in a wave of economic growth and prosperity by improving the way individuals, businesses, and government live and work.

I was recently a guest on a C.D. Howe podcast; 5G and Canada’s Telecom Future. The panel, which also included representatives from Telus and Shaw, was hosted by veteran reporter Michael Hainsworth. We discussed the number of ways 5G will transform life as we know it by introducing new capabilities that are significantly more advanced than previous generations of wireless tech.

5G is a real game changer. It offers a combination of ultra-low latency (i.e., no lag or buffering) for near-instantaneous responsiveness, a massive increase in the number of devices that can be connected to the network, and ultra fast speeds, which means it will open a world of possibilities across every sector of the economy. Whether it’s reducing gridlock, signalling for an ambulance at the scene of an accident, fighting fires with drone technology, monitoring and detecting when crops need watering, or digital mining, new, innovative applications will fundamentally transform the lives of Canadians.

At Rogers, we’ve been preparing for this moment for along time. Over the past 35 years we’ve invested over $30 billion to build Canada’s most trusted and reliable wireless network. We launched Canada’s first and largest 5G network in January 2020, we announced Canada’s first 5G standalone core network last December, and we now connect more than 170 towns and cities across the country – from Fredericton to Trois-Rivières to Nanaimo. We’re also funding research in 5G applications and applied sciences that will benefit our country’s unique needs, through a multi-million dollar partnership with UBC. Recently we also announced our participation in Communitech’s Future of Cities collaborative to develop 5G smart city solutions .

Beyond that, Industry investments in 5G networks are expected to contribute an estimated $40 billion annually to the country’s economy and close to 250,000 permanent new jobs by 20261.

From an environmental impact perspective, the implementation of 5G will enable between 48-54 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emission (MTCO2e) abatement in Canada by 2025. That is the equivalent of taking 10.5 million passenger vehicles off the road for a full year. Moreover, it would account for up to 23 per cent of Canada’s current emission reduction targets by 20252.

And that’s to say nothing of the use cases, applications, and businesses that have not even been thought of yet. When 4G came out, the smartphone didn’t exist as it does today, the App Store didn’t exist as it does today. Now these applications not only make our live easier but attract billions of dollars and affect GDPs in a way that no one ever thought when 4G was built.

To unleash the power and innovation of 5G, we’ll need robust networks, and those networks will depend on billions of dollars in investments from facilities-based network operators, as well as strong government policy support. It is only when public and private organizations work together that we can unleash our true economic potential.

5G networks have already lit up across the country, compatible handsets have hit the market, use cases and applications continue to be launched. This is not the time to take our foot off the gas. 5G is more than just another evolution in technology, it is a revolution. Canadian wireless networks consistently rank among the fastest in the world. Canada is well positioned to benefit from the wave of economic and societal benefits that 5G will unlock. In the face of one of the hardest economic recoveries that Canada has ever seen, we cannot afford to get this wrong.

Luciano Ramos is Rogers SVP Network Development and Core Engineering