95% of real 5G is mid-band, 3.3-4.2 GHz. The range is comparable to more traditional 1800 MHz spectrum if the site uses many (small) antennas, Massive MIMO and efficient beamforming. Therefore, 5G as actually deployed does not require more antennas than 4G.
Orange/FT CTO Michael Trabbia is the latest to confirm. He tells Iain Morris of Light Reading
“We are using more efficient technology and think we will be able to have the same coverage and won’t need to add sites. …overall we don’t expect to have a big increase in the number of sites for coverage reasons.”
T-Mobile has covered about a third of the U.S. while reducing the number of towers. It expects to reach 200M pops in 2021, about 2/3rds of the U.S., without needing new sites.
Morris also points out that China and Japan have perhaps twice as many sites as France and Germany and thre or four times as many as the U.S.
Verizon points out that additional sites, mostly small cells, are needed to fill in the 4G footprint.