Research from O2 and Development Economics has suggested that one-fifth of businesses in the U.K. used mobile data to stay afloat during the coronavirus lockdown. The firm found that had mobile data not been available, £205 billion in economic output could have been lost.
O2 said that the figures were estimated using ONS data on economic output across the U.K. and employee activity monitoring. Between April and June, the U.K.’s GDP fell by 20.4%, O2 reckons that without mobile connectivity, more pressure would have been placed on the furlough scheme and GDP.
Commenting on the findings, Mark Evans, CEO at O2, said:
“We can be under no illusion that the pandemic has challenged our nation. But we can be sure that without the great power of connectivity, things would have been exponentially worse.”
During the lockdown, mobile companies such as O2 offered customers discounted or free broadband to help them weather the economic impact. Vodafone, for example, gave small businesses free broadband while EE gave NHS staff unlimited mobile data until October due to the pressure health workers were under.
For its part, O2 says that it has extended 4G and 5G coverage to over 186,000 postcodes around the country since the lockdown started to ensure that people can stay in touch with their friends, family, and colleagues.