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War of the ‘Gs’ – Nokia promises 4.5G Pro and 4.9G

Vendors need to keep up sales of LTE despite 5G looming, leading to a host of new marketing labels to boost momentum

Mobile vendors score no points for originality when pushing their new generations of network gear. A couple of years after Huawei coined the term ‘4.5G’ to ensure its LTE portfolio had its own buzz-name amid the 5G hype, other suppliers are going one better. Nokia has announced ‘4.5G Pro’ and is looking ahead to ‘4.9G’ – presumably 3GPP Release 14, the last one before 5G (Release 15) kicks in.

Nokia will bring 4.5G Pro (a snappier name for LTE-Advanced Pro, in turn the commercial label for Releases 13 and 14) to market in its AirScale radio platform at the end of this year. It is promising “10 times the speeds of initial 4G networks”, and a seamless upgrade for current customers of Nokia 4.5G (LTE-Advanced). These number about 90 worldwide, says the company.

Among the features which will power 4.5G Pro’s speed boost are five-band carrier aggregation.

Meanwhile, ‘4.9G’ is being billed as a parallel technology to early 5G, allowing operators to continue to enhance their LTE networks even as they start to deploy the next generation standards (or at least, this is how vendors hope it will go. Some operators want to continue to squeeze the most out of 4G for many years before they move towards 5G).

According to Nokia, 4.9G will bring “significant capacity and data rate enhancements and network latency reductions to let users maintain a continuous 5G service experience complementing 5G radio coverage”.

It will boosts speeds to “several gigabits per second”, by aggregating even larger numbers of carriers and using highly directional antennas which will “allow signals sent via multiple transmit / receive paths to be added together”. It also promises to enable cloud-based RANS, with significant intelligence at the edge to reduce latency to below 10ms. This is an area where Nokia has been a pioneer among the network OEMs, particularly via its work on Mobile Edge Computing with Intel.

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