China Mobile, Huawei test 4.5G technology ahead of Hong Kong 5G rollout in 2020
China Mobile Hong Kong and telecommunications equipment provider Huawei have jointly conducted two tests on 4.5G network technology in Hong Kong, as mobile operators look towards rolling out 4.5G networks in the city prior to the commercial launch of 5G in 2020.
On Monday, China Mobile Hong Kong (CMHK) announced that it leveraged 4.5G technologies and networks to achieve 1Gbps peak download speed, which is seven to nine times faster than current 4G LTE networks that clock in download speeds of between 112 and 150Mbps.
This means that a CMHK user could download 50GB of 2K high definition video within 6.7 minutes on a CMHK 4.5G network, compared to a waiting time of about an hour on current 4G LTE networks.
CMHK also tested a Massive MIMO solution, achieving over 600Mbps peak rate. Massive MIMO technology, also known as large-scale antenna systems, is key for upcoming 5G networks since it allows many devices to connect to a network at the same time without a drop in data transmission speed or quality.
“With the growing demand for high-quality mobile network service, we have been actively developing our 4.5G network. We are now one step closer to the 5G era,” said Sean Lee, director and chief executive of CMHK, adding that the company’s partnership with Huawei allows it to boost its network in terms of capacity and speed.
CMHK is also introducing major network enhancements, including increasing the number of base stations in Hong Kong and improving network coverage for 76 Mass Transit Railway (MTR) stations by early next year.
The company said it plans to upgrade 90 per cent of its base stations by the second quarter of 2017, allowing it to deploy advanced 4.5G technology such as Massive MIMO. Over half of the base stations in Hong Kong have already been upgraded to achieve increased peak data rates of 1Gbps, with an aim of upgrading 90 per cent of the base stations in 2017.
The mobile operator also plans to improve network coverage in MTR stations by deploying enhanced LTE networks across busy MTR stations, such as Tsim Sha Tsui, Quarry Bay, Jordan and Price Edward.
In October, mobile operator SmarTone announced that it had extended its 4G network coverage to cover the new Whampoa and Ho Man Tin MTR stations, and said it will extend coverage to all stations on the South Island Line that is expected to begin operating at the end of 2016.