The value of 5G is more clear, the danger less real if two somewhat contradictory sets of values are kept in mind. As a practical matter, 4G capacity–even with a massive shift to small cells–runs out of ability to support ever-growing demand. In that vein, 5G is simply the next necessary tool for keeping pace with growing data usage.
And, at the same time, 5G performance characteristics–based on millimeter wave;dense, small cell architectures; edge computing and power consumption–will enable new use cases over time that produce incremental roles and revenues.
All of that will happen gradually, as we have yet to reach the point where 5G becomes the mainstay network. In fact, 4G will dominate for some time to come. But 5G builds on advanced 4G network elements and core networks.
Consider the matter of indoor coverage and small cells. As Ericsson points out, the same small cells deployed for 4G indoor coverage can be used to support 5G indoor cells. At least initially, 5G NR uses the 4G command and control network to support the 5G air interface.
And the same dense backhaul network that supports 4G small cells can be leveraged for 5G as well, in many cases. Many observers note that the existence of dense 4G networks featuring using small cells connected using optical fiber reduces the cost of 5G infrastructure.
That evolution is built right into the standards. According to 3GPP specifications, 5G will be deployed in two different modes, Non-Standalone (NSA) and Standalone (SA).
In NSA, (5G) NR and (4G) LTE are tightly integrated and connect to either the existing evolved packet core or the 5G NG core. In standalone mode, either 5G NR or 4G LTE radios connect to 5G NG Core.