U Mobile has announced that it has activated its first 4.5G network in Malaysia. The network, deployed in conjunction with Huawei, will be available on supported devices for both the 1800MHz and 2600MHz cellular bands; and it will only work in Johor Bahru.
The 4.5G network standard is something that Huawei has been championing since early 2016. Officially named LTE-Advanced Pro by the 3GPP, the standard promising connections twice the speed of a regular 4G network.
That said, it currently only works on Huawei technology. U Mobile’s announcement only lists the Huawei P10 as an example of a supported device. It’s assumed that this includes the P10 Plus, but does not indicate whether older devices will be able to benefit from this improved connection.
Huawei has been pushing for an intermediate standard to fulfill consumer needs before work on 5G standards are completed. The idea is that incremental improvements are better for business; which is different from the major leaps that the telecommunications industry tends to wait for.
At the moment, U Mobile is the only local telco to have rolled out a 4.5G connection. Even if it is in a limited area with a limited number of devices able to take advantage of the network. This is likely more to do with Huawei, seeing that other smartphone makers have no spoken about 4.5G technology.
On the other hand, 5G technology is still several years away. Celcom has begun trials, but is not expecting to see it deployed before 2020. An early version could be rolled out as early as 2018. Although that would be a watered down version of a 5G network (although Huawei has got to the 4.5G name first).