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Who needs 5G? Singapore will get super fast 1Gbps LTE next year

A Singaporean carrier is partnering with Chinese telecom giant Huawei to bring blazing fast speeds to some parts of the island state.

A Singaporean carrier will be using Huawei's small cell networks to hit 1Gbps download speeds over LTE. Pictured is Huawei's LampSite 2.0 small cell tower.

Aloysius Low/CNET

5G networks are a few years off, but a partnership in Singapore will see LTE download speeds in the country hit the ridiculously fast range of 1Gbps as early as next year.

Singaporean carrier StarHub will be teaming with Chinese telecom giant Huawei for the ambitious plan, which will see the tandem roll out small cell networks throughout the central business district on the island in quarter two of 2017.

There's one snag though: Current phones won't be able to hop on the faster network and customers who want super fast "4.5G" speeds will have to wait for newer devices, which are expected to be released at around the same time.

It comes as telcos in countries around the world are beginning to experiment with 5G networks, which promise to provide speeds fast enough for customers to download feature-length films in seconds. However, this technology is only expected to be widely available around 2020 at the earliest. South Korea's SK Telecom says it'll be the first company to run a 5G network, though it has competition from the USA's Verizon Wireless and Australia's Telstra.

Singapore's StarHub is the world's fastest LTE operator, with an average speed of 38Mbps, according to OpenSignal's reports. The improved speeds from the new small cell network will easily surpass this, however such service will only be achieved indoors, as the technology uses mini cellular towers to blanket an area, such as a mall or office building, with coverage. That also means that the "4.5G" speeds will only be available around the country's populated metropolitan area.

The little towers -- StarHub's using Huawei's LampSite 2.0 -- help carriers improve efficiency, as the it can allocate more bandwidth to areas with high human traffic by installing more boxes instead of building a new costly macro cellular broadcast tower to provide connectivity for large areas.

StarHub says the new network will allow for "twice the number of users in the same room without need for buffering or signal losses."