China's telecom industry will have to spend up to $78.63 billion to deploy the fifth generation of mobile networks across all metropolitan areas in the Far Eastern country and is likely to end up investing many more resources into achieving truly nationwide 5G, according to the latest wireless study conducted by DigiTimes Research. Beijing has been supportive of local mobile service providers investing into the next standard of wireless connectivity, with China now being counted among the rare few 5G pioneers together with the United States, Japan, and South Korea, as well as several other countries. While the willingness of the Chinese telecom sector to embrace 5G isn't questionable, that wireless focus will cost it a lot of capital that it isn't likely to generate a return on anytime soon, the new study indicates.
China's network operators can hence expect to spend no less than $47.18 billion on metropolitan 5G deployment, though the total cost of such efforts could also be much closer to the aforementioned figure. The latest estimates are based on the assumption that the 5G standard embraced by the telecom industry in the country will utilize 4.5GHz, 4.9GHz, 26GHz, and 28GHz spectrum, i.e. a combination of mid- and high-frequency bands, which is what local companies already said they're looking to commercialize. While both types of spectrum are also expected to serve as a basis for 5G connectivity in other parts of the world, with the main focus being on the so-called millimeter-wave bands, the situation in the U.S. is somewhat more diversified, primarily due to T-Mobile and its low-frequency 600MHz holdings that were first meant to power its independent 5G network but are now planned to be joined with Sprint's 2.5GHz portfolio if the two manage to merge.
The fact that no concrete business models that would allow for significant returns on 5G investments have yet been identified may make some Chinese players reluctant to fully commit to the technology in the near-term, DigiTimes indicates, though the new standard as a whole is still widely expected to be revolutionary for wireless monetization. First commercial 5G buildouts will be starting in the U.S. and the Far East in the second half of the year.