Andy Sutton, Principal Network Architect at BT, sees millimeter-wave backhaul playing an important role in 5G networks. 90% of GSM networks used microwave for backhaul, but fiber became increasingly important in more recent systems.
Sutton notes that E-band radios today can deliver 6 gigabits with 99.99% reliability. Recent regulatory changes will increase the spectrum available and data rates. That should be sufficient for most European 5G sites, which are primarily mid-band or low-band.
Verizon's Glenn Wellbrock, Director of Optical Transport Network Architecture, Design, and Planning, also sees an increasing role for wireless backhaul and fronthaul. Fiber is now 90% of Verizon's 5G backhaul, but he sees that microwave may double and backhaul 20% of sites.
Governments are being pressured to provide rule changes and cash for more fiber, because "fiber connectivity is essential."