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4.5G the fastest network you can’t use: Can your phone handle the nationwide upgrade?

4.5G is the next generation of mobile internet technology, capable of delivering more content at faster speeds while giving people more connectivity options.

Within the next 12 months, this promise of faster nationwide mobile internet access may become a reality.

To use the network, it is necessary to have a 4.5G capable handset, so many consumers with older models will need to upgrade to unlock all the benefits of 4.5G.

The upgrade puts the Spark network slightly ahead of devices, with no commercially available modems or phones supporting the entire range and combination of 4.5G features at the moment.

At present, the average 4G speed for mobile users in New Zealand is 36 mbs, when Spark trialled the first 4.5G mobile network in Christchurch last year, the specialised equipment reached a peak speed of up to 1.15 gbps.

At the June 20 launch of the commercially available 4.5G network in Queenstown, Spark said 4.5G could deliver up to five times faster speeds to users.

In addition to faster connectivity speeds, 4.5G technology also connects with lower latency, meaning less time is required for signals to move from the phone, through the network and to the receiving party. 

This is expected to drive innovation in the use of mobile technology in latency-sensitive applications such as driverless vehicles.

4.5G is also seen as a promising way to rapidly improve rural broadband access because it is expensive to extend fibre connectivity to outlying and sparsely-populated areas.

Coverage from a faster mobile network, coupled with an appropriately-specified smartphone, can make affordable broadband a possibility for people in these areas.

The majority of the latest smartphones should be compatible with some elements of the 4.5G network, yet one phone stands out.

Huawei’s P10 Series, which launched in New Zealand during April, was the world’s first smartphone to support a broad spectrum of 4.5G features.

Andrew Bowater, Huawei head of public affairs says, “It is clear that the introduction of 4.5G will revolutionise how we use our mobile devices.

“But taking advantage of faster streaming, more reliable video calling and to the latest augmented and virtual reality services powered by 4.5G all depends on having an appropriately specified device.”

“With the P10, we have combined the latest in technology with a sharp focus on aesthetic appeal to deliver the very best capabilities to our customers, that includes 4.5G connectivity.”

Currently, 4.5G is only available on the Spark network in select New Zealand areas, including Silverdale, Auckland, limited areas in Christchurch CBD, and a cluster of five cell sites in Queenstown. 

Spark has confirmed plans to roll out 4.5G networks in another 10 towns across New Zealand over the next year.

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