A further evolution of the LTE-Advanced system, the concept of 4.5G and its related technologies were announced at the International Conference on Communications in China 2014 (ICCC 2014) in Shanghai. During the conference, participants from major members of the telecommunication industry joined the discussion on the evolution of LTE/LTE-Advance and shared their thoughts about paving the way from 4.5G to 5G.
Compared to the currently developed LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) system commonly known as 4G technology, 4.5G technology would further extend the capability of LTE-A to enable more diverse applications, better user experiences and easier and cost-effective deployment, which would all contribute to a better connected world in the near future. The industry opinions on LTE evolution in Release 13 and onwards will reflect the technology trend evolution needed in the coming years.
The standardization of LTE started in 2004 and Release 8 was finalized in 2008, achieving higher spectrum efficiency and providing the flexible spectrum utilization to both feature-driven development (FDD) and test-driven development (TDD) bands with scalable bandwidth. 3GPP further standardized LTE-Advanced (Release 10) to fulfill all the requirements of 4G, and was accepted as International Mobile Telecommunications-Advanced technology by International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
From the perspective of evolving technology, it is important to think about the next step in LTE-Advanced systems, which targets the market requirements for 2017/2018. LTE Release 13 is seen as the next significant release in the evolution LTE-Advanced, together with some key features studied and specified in Release 12. Release 13 has already begun with the approval of certain features, such as operating LTE in unlicensed spectrum bands at 5GHz, 3D beamforming and low cost Machine-Type Communication (MTC).
4.5G technology enables more users to enjoy ultra-high definition, 3D and possibly holographic videos. This would reshape the way people produce, share and obtain information. Furthermore, it would enable applications to support 100,000 connections across one square kilometer in a cost-effective way. It is widely believed that 4.5G innovative technologies will shape the wireless connectivity in the near future and will provide a steady pace towards a better connected world.