About a decade ago, mobile carriers poured billions of dollars into high-speed 4G networks only to see technology giants such as Apple, Facebook and Google walk away with most of the profits fuelled by social media. As operators plough even more cash into 5G, they are betting on a futuristic concept in hope of a fair share of the returns this time.

Telecommunications companies are looking to build a platform based on the "metaverse", an idea that inspired sci-fi movie Ready Player One and online games by market darlings such as Roblox...

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