LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 MIDDLE EAST: Chinese vendor Huawei raised eyebrows at the show this week by attempting to give the mobile industry a new acronym to mull over – 4.5G.
In a presentation during the opening keynote session, Huawei’s president of wireless R&D, Ying Weimin (pictured), outlined how 4.5G technology will apparently help power smart city deployments.
Ying talked of 4.5G technology offering peak data rates of 10Gb/s, latency of just 10ms, and support for 100,000 mobile connections within a km² coverage. Dubbing it “a forerunner of 5G,” the Huawei exec put a timeframe of 2016-2020 on deployment of the technology, before the industry moves to 5G from 2020.
But what exactly is Huawei’s idea of 4.5G? Ying didn’t go into detail, but his presentation suggested that it’s not just a new marketing buzzword for LTE-Advanced technology. For Huawei, 4.5G sits between deployment of LTE-Advanced and any futuristic vision of 5G. The company promises to showcase a prototype 4.5G deployment at its MBB Global Forum in Shanghai next month, followed by a demo with UK operator EE next year. Pre-commercial launches are set for a 2016 timeframe.
Ying’s colleague Ihab Ghattas, assistant president of Huawei’s middle east division, also touched on the subject of 4.5G in a presentation focused on ‘Monetising LTE’, but again offered little in the way of technical detail. “There is no definition of 4.5G – it is an evolution of existing technology,” he told delegates.
Dan Warren, the GSMA’s senior director of technology, told Mobile World Live that there is unlikely to be any industry-wide agreed standard on the definition of 4.5G and vendors are simply getting ahead of themselves.
“4.5G is a marketing term that seems to have entered industry parlance to fill the gap in divergent industry perception of 5G,” he commented. “A vendor’s view of 5G is that it will have a new, higher speed, lower latency radio technology, but operators are increasingly looking to 5G to be about consolidation of existing technology via heterogeneous networks, expanding coverage, improving network economics (by reducing total cost of ownership) and enabling the Internet of Things, but without a new radio technology being required. It seems that vendors exclusively are using the term 4.5G to describe what operators want 5G to be.”