Hongkongers can expect streamed 4G movies on their phones in 2016 as HKT vows its 4.5G network will be ready

City among earliest adopters of 4.5G mobile network with successful trials already held, but 5G service still 5 years away

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 November, 2015, 7:39pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 November, 2015, 5:43pm

Hong Kong ranks among a handful of cities that have successfully tested so-called 4.5G technology and networks, and one of the two operators in the Asian city has said it plans to commercialise the service as early as next year.

Billed as an enhanced version of 4G mobile telecoms technology, it faster and connects to more devices. Cheerleaders for the service say it will make streaming data-guzzling 4K movies and virtual reality content while on the go standard practise.

Hong Kong telecoms operator HKT demonstrated its 4.5G network with Chinese electronics maker and telecoms player Huawei recently at the latter’s mobile broadband forum.

The maximum download speed was 1.2GB per second, or enough to download 3,000 songs in the blink of an eye using MP3 files.

HKT, a subsidiary of PCCW, owns two mobile operators in Hong Kong: CSL and 1010. The company aid in a statement that its 4.5G services will be available to consumers next year.

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Rival operator 3 Hong Kong, the mobile division of Hutchinson Telecommunications, also demonstrated its 4.5G solution at the same forum, but hit a slower download speed of 1GB per second.

According to Huawei, any 4G operator can upgrade to 4.5G, mainly by adding software upgrades.

Huawei has provided technology solutions to HKT and 3 Hong Kong and is pushing to standardise 4.5G networks, it said at the forum.

The 4.5G technology was approved on October 27 by 3GPP, an international organisation that standardise global telecom systems. It gave it the official name LTE-Advanced Pro.

Huawei is also signing related deals with global operators, it said. It inked one agreement with Nordic operator Teliasonera in September to deploy a 4.5G network in the Scandinavian country.

“We are exploring plans in Western Europe,” said Yang Chaobin, Huawei’s chief marketer for its wireless network products, adding that new deals “may be announced next month”.

Although mobile operators do not need to replace their equipment to make the jump, users will need a new phone to enjoy the benefits of 4.5G.

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Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, one of the most advanced processors used in popular smartphones like Google’s Nexus 6P, can only support download speeds of up to 450MB per second, or less than half the speed of 4.5G.

Meanwhile, consumers who don’t appreciate half measures may still have to wait several years before the roll-out of 5G.

“We are expecting to see our 5G network commercialised in 2020,” Yang said.