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By Han Wei / Dec 20, 2018 12:54 AM / Business & Tech

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

As global telecom carriers race to embrace the fifth generation of mobile telecom services known as 5G, some experts urge patience for what’s seen as a pivotal development for a new industrial revolution.

Upgrading existing telecom networks with 5G kits will cost Chinese carriers 1.2 trillion yuan ($174 billion), or 1.5 times their investment in the 4G network, said Wei Leping, a telecom expert at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Service providers may be unable to see any return from their investment for eight years, Wei said.

Countries around the world are gearing up for the next generation of super-speedy telecom technology. Several countries have scheduled pilot 5G programs for next year.

But Wei said a large-scale application of 5G and the systemic changes it will bring won’t come quickly because of the high infrastructure costs. The rollout of 5G is likely to be much slower than that of 4G, Wei said.

The main driver for adoption of 5G will be consumers looking for more streaming video and faster downloads on smartphones, he said. As profit growth from 4G services peaks and new income from 5G has yet to catch up, telecom companies will face slower growth next year, Wei said.

Related: In-Depth: Huawei’s Odyssey Heads Into Uncharted Waters

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