Combined outlay on next-gen mobile tech to reportedly be 48% greater compared to 4G.

China’s three mobile network operators will spend a combined $180 billion on 5G infrastructure over the coming seven years.

This is according to a South China Morning Post report on Monday citing Jefferies equity analyst Edison Lee, who said the outlay will eclipse by 48% the $117 billion cumulative investment that China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom made in 4G.

It is also nearly four times the amount that China’s biggest regional rival, Japan, plans to spend on 5G – approximately $46 billion – over the same period, Lee said.

The higher capital spending will be driven by the use of higher-frequency spectrum bands, necessitating the deployment of a more base stations, and the push to reach nationwide coverage, a feat China Mobile is expected to achieve by 2021.

Jefferies is particularly bullish on subscriber numbers, predicting 588.3 million 5G subscriptions in mainland China alone by 2022. By comparison, Ericsson expects the number of 5G subscriptions to reach 550 million worldwide by the same year.

"Major Chinese Internet companies, Baidu, Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings, will lead the way in introducing advanced consumer services based on 4K and 8K video, as well as augmented and virtual reality technologies, on the new 5G networks," Lee said in Monday’s SCMP report. "Smart city initiatives will take advantage of the 5G networks to make use of artificial intelligence for public security, traffic management and disaster management."