4.5G mobile trials see gigabit speeds

Gigabit speed is a key promise from the equipment makers preparing 5G mobile network hardware. It will take until at least 2020 before anyone builds a 5G network in New Zealand, yet there’s a good chance we’ll see gigabit speeds before then.

Last month Comms Day reported on an Optus-Huawei 4.5G trial which hit a peak speed of 1.23Gbps over the air in live network conditions. The newsletter reports the test has a theoretical maximum speed of 1.43Gbps.

Earlier Telstra worked with Ericsson to get speeds of 1Gbps on its commercial network.

The key to fast speeds lies in aggregating spectrum from different bands. Telstra pulled more than 100 MHz of spectrum from five different bands.

New Zealand’s two biggest carriers, Spark and Vodafone, have the spectrum to do the same here.

Of course the Australian trials are just that, trials. They use non-commercial handsets and purpose-built test sites. While you’d be lucky to get similar speeds in practice, the theoretical high speeds are useful pointers showing where mobile technology is going.

Optus told Comms Day the 4.5G network could be operational later in 2016, but that handsets to exploit the high speeds will not appear until the end of this year or early in 2017.

At this year’s Mobile World Congress, Huawei president of products and solutions Ryan Ding said his company is already working with 60 international telcos on 4.5G networks. I asked about New Zealand and got a diplomatic non-committal answer, but in earlier discussions with Huawei was told we are likely to be among the first countries to get gigabit mobile.