Expected to be launched in 2016, plans for 4.5G mobile broadband will lead mobile communications into the Gigabit era for the first time and enable people to enjoy increasingly intelligent lives. Yet what does this technology standard actually mean for subscribers, and how will 4.5G advancements help operators to make the next great leap to 5G by 2020?
The fact is that mobile broadband technology is seeing new upgrades each and every day. That is why we often refer to labels such as 3G, 4G, and 4.5G as an evolution of its predecessor. It’s not that one stops and another starts.
Like its predecessors, 4.5G definitions are largely based on standards and patents which are continuing to be developed with 3GPP. The initial discussions around 4.5G recognised that the connection requirements between things and people are increasing quickly. That number of connections is likely to reach thirty billion connections in the next few years. Personal communication requirements are skyrocketing, especially for data and videos which are developing from high-definition to 4K ultra-high definition. Smarter and connected cities also means broad, massive and instant connections are needed.
In this respect 4.5G is the forerunner of 5G. Key features of 4.5G technology include the lower latency at 10m/s, a peak download rate of around 6Gbps, and the support of 100,000 connections within one square kilometer. Network designs will have to support new techniques for air interface, spectrum frequency and architecture. These include higher order MIMO, massive Carrier Aggregation, Semi Orthogonal Multiple Access (SOMA), shorter wireless scheduling time, the use of unlicensed spectrum, as well as open network cloud architecture to facilitate new services deployments.
Part of the current research on 4.5G will be carried out in 3GPP R12. We believe that 4.5G will be standardised mainly in R13/R14, meaning that commercialisation of 4.5G will start becoming a reality by 2016.
A Regional Impact
The deployment of 4G technologies such as LTE is rapidly increasing around the world and the Middle East has been particularly active in this regard. This has brought super-speed, high-bandwidth, and superior-quality mobile services to individuals that are utilising a greater amount of digital information on the go everday.
When we talk about 4G networks, I think the industry generally considers this for human to human communications. It is about providing an excellent experience for consumers with the ability to access HD videos, online games, and other services much more easily than in the past. However, 4.5G takes the user experience once step further as individuals seek to enjoy ultra HD content, 3D media, and even holographic multimedia services.
For the wider telecom industry, 4.5G’s massive connection capacity further opens the way for what many of us are planning within the Internet of Everything. 4.5G’s lower end-to-end delay makes real-time mobile services possible. The advancements of 4.5G also give operators the chance to adopt new innovations in service-oriented network architecture prior to 5G being commercialised. Additionally it provides an excellent backbone for future Smart City projects which we have also seen gaining significant momentum in the region.
In 2015, the advancement of mobile broadband services in particular will continue at a fast pace as cities become more intelligent and the Internet of Things becomes a reality in more industries and countries within the Middle East. Advanced broadband technologies will further help to align regional ICT networks between telecom operators and enterprise stakeholders in education, healthcare, transportation, and so on.
A 4.5G portfolio of solutions creates more connected infrastructures that improves the quality of life for citizens and businesses, but also brings more flexible network architecture so that operators possess the capabilities of quick service deployment and open network resources.
Ying Weimin is president of Huawei Wireless Network Research and Development.