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5G is not driving a capex spike like 4G, but is producing opex headaches

One of the ways in which 5G differs from its predecessors is that operators are, in general, taking a more staggered approach to capital investment. They are leveraging existing assets, such as 4G cores or dense fiber, to reduce the capex hike that was often associated with a network upgrade; they also plan to retain and enhance 4G RANs for a decade or more so that the addition of 5G build-outs can be targeted just where it is needed, and the cost spread over many years. Such patterns are becoming visible in some operators’ financial results. For instance, while AT&T and Verizon have both increased their capex spending to support 5G, their bills have been lower than most analysts expected,…

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