LIVE FROM CTIA SUPER MOBILITY WEEK, LAS VEGAS: Nokia added a little more detail on its plans to introduce a new ‘G’ to the mobile market, 4.9G, which the vendor brought to industry attention in a product announcement last week.

As part of its 5G product roadmap, Nokia has unveiled plans to offer 4.5G, 4.5G Pro and 4.9G technology based on its AirScale radio access network kit. However, last week’s news was quiet on launch timeframes for the 4.9G kit.

“It’s end of 2017, one year later than 4.5G Pro,” Phil Twist, VP – Mobile Networks Marketing, Nokia, told Mobile World Live in a media briefing this morning.

Twist said its 4.9G kit will adhere to the 3GPP’s Release 14 spec (and will be dubbed LTE Advanced Pro 2), due for ratification March 2017. Earlier 4.5G technology (championed by vendors such as Nokia and Huawei) was based on an LTE Advanced Pro specification.

“Release 14 has a lot of capabilities that get very, very close to 5G,” added Michael Murphy, head of technology at the company’s North American operation.

Nokia claims its 4.9G offering will be capable of supporting theoretical peak download speeds of several Gb/s, offering latency of less than 10ms.

“4.9G takes LTE to the max,” said Twist. “This is critically important because when the new 5G radio interface comes in there’s an expectation that this is a complement to 4G networks and not a replacement for them. The previous generations saw 4G replacing 3G, and 3G spectrum would then be refarmed… This service continuity is one of the key elements of 5G and keeps the door open for operators to react.”

Twist was also keen to point out that achieving the potential performance of a 4.9G network requires modification to the core and a move to an edge computing model. “You have to have a complete network solution, you can’t just do it in the radio,” he noted.

CEO talk
suriIn a separate keynote session this morning, Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri also outlined the vendor’s 5G roadmap. Suri said while that 4.5G Pro will support five band carrier aggregation, latency of 10ms and 1Gb/s speeds, 4.9G kit will further improve performance and support six band carrier aggregation.

“We know from experience that new 5G network rollouts will be in metropolitan areas first before moving outside. 4.9G is a necessary step for users living beyond the initial 5G coverage areas.”