Upgrade to 5G will costs billions a year and may not be worth it

In the wildest dreams of wireless engineers, the mobile network of the future controls our cars, lets our refrigerators talk to the grocery store to order more milk, and provides fast, reliable broadband connections to our homes so we can sever ties with cable companies.

But it's going to cost the mobile-phone companies, chipmakers, device manufacturers and software developers about US$200 billion a year in research and capital spending to get to that point, with engineers labouring to work around interference from trees and rain and provide a strong enough signal to handle so much demand.

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