So-called 4.5G technology could be rolled out commercially as early as next year, acting as an enabler for the Internet of Things (IoT), pending 5G's arrival, says Huawei.
The Chinese network equipment manufacturer teamed up with HK Telecom at the Huawei Global Mobile Broadband Forum (MBBF) in Hong Kong to show off the 'world's first' 1Gbps 4.5G network in action, reports Tech Week.
Earlier in the year, Huawei outlined plans to add an incremental upgrade to 4G into its range of small cell products, claiming the additional capacity, faster speeds and low latency can support the IoT, virtual reality applications and critical industrial processes.
Its research suggests that 4.5G will support 100,000 connections per cell – 100 times that of LTE – and offer latency of 10ms compared to 50ms.
With 4.5G compatible with existing LTE and LTE-A deployments, mobile operators are said to be keen to make 4.5G commercially available as soon as 2016.
Hong Kong's highly developed, highly competitive telecoms market, combined with a "difficult" radio environment resulting from mountains and high density settlements, mean that the country's operators tend to "get to things a bit earlier than other markets," said HKT Group managing director Alex Arena.
He added that 220% mobile phone saturation in the country, alongside diminishing traditional revenues, will see Hong Kong operators become early adopters of the 4.5G technology.
"We're seeing saturation. We've seen it for some time," he said. "Costs are going up as data demand goes up at a time when traditional revenues from voice, texts and roaming are [decreasing]."
Arena hopes network improvements like 4.5G will allow it to offer new services that boost revenues.