It was easier to find skeptics about 5G capital investment costs a few years ago, when some predicted service providers could not afford 5G at all, because of the huge increase in cell sites an backhaul requirements.
But service providers have found many ways to contain costs, in part by phasing investment over a longer period of time than might have been pondered initially; in part by sharing some infrastructure; in part by evolving new network architectures that support multiple revenue sources and platform needs from a single infrastructure; in part by evolving 4G to better match 5G performance, which allows a more-phased 5G deployment.
Still, use of millimeter wave spectrum does impose new challenges. The basic rule in the mobile industry is that shrinking the radius covered by any single cell quadruples the number of cells to cover the same area.
During the recent winter Olympic games in South Korea, for example, the number of new 5G small cells, using 28-GHz spectrum, was about four times the number required to support 4G using traditional low-band spectrum.
But that is good news. Most expect the number of small cells, when using millimeter wave spectrum, to grow much more than four times 4G using low-band spectrum.