Advanced fourth-generation (4G) telecom services - dubbed 4.5G in Turkey - have become operational as of the early hours of Friday morning. On the first day of its introduction, 4.5G has already started to be used actively by more than 4.5 million subscribers, according to the head of the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK), Ömer Fatih Sayan.
Also, the forecast by the Association of Mobile Communication Tools and Information Technologies Businessmen indicates that around 46 million subscribers are expected to switch to 4.5G technology, with 7 million of them expected to start using the new technology in April.
The technology was introduced during an official presentation on Friday in Istanbul with the participation of officials from the Communication Ministry and the head of the BTK Sayan; along with Turkey's three mobile operators, Turkcell, Vodafone and Türk Telekom, which invested in a bid on Aug. 26 last year to get licensed to provide the service - bids totaling 1.9 billion euros, 1.1 billion euros and 918 million euros, respectively. The total amount of spectrum available will be increased by three times. Frequency ownership rights will expire on April 30, 2029. GSM operators are expected to invest TL 22.5 billion (nearly $7.7 billion) in an eight- year infrastructural project, which will enable usage at full capacity.
Sayan told reporters that Turkey now boasts the world's highest broadband Internet speed in mobile technology.
Claiming to bridge the gap between 4G and 5G, 4.5G technology provides 10-times the speed of 3G technology. The most important feature of 4.5G is the notable increase in data transmission speed. According to the BTK, 4.5G technology will offer consumers the ability to use new technologies while providing faster Internet browsing, uploads and downloads.
While the original plan was to invest in 4G technology, last year in April, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that Turkey should skip 4G technology to capitalize on the investment and move directly to 5G instead. "We would be wasting time on 4G technology so we should move to 5G in two years, or Turkey will become a garbage dump for 4G technology," Erdoğan had said. After the president's announcement, Turkey's three major mobile operators - Turkcell, Vodafone and Türk Telekom - won ownership rights to the country's most advanced 4.5G network after paying more than 3.9 billion euros in a bid held by BTK last August.
According to Sayan, 4.5G is more efficient technology, offering a faster and better experience to users in regard to spectrum use.He added that 4.5G would serve as a bridge to fifth-generation (5G) technology, which is expected to be the next major step in mobile telecommunications.
According to Ministry figures released in 2015, the number of 3G subscribers has reached 61.1 million in Turkey.
Figures also reveal that the number of cell phone subscribers reached 72 million while the number of broadband Internet subscribers increased to over 44 million in the second quarter of 2015 from just 6 million in 2008. Turkey's population was 77.7 million in 2014, according to the country's statistics authority.
Prior to 4.5G technology, third-generation (3G) technology, which enabled people to use high-speed mobile Internet, was used. Before that, there was the second-generation (2G) technology, which allowed for the transmission of text messages and GSM voice calls. According to Transport, Maritime and Communication Minister Binali Yıldırım, as people demand more bandwidth to watch high-definition videos online and benefit from the availability of mobile Internet, the need for speed will increase. This is also the primary reason why the ministry is focusing more on expanding infrastructural work.
On Thursday, Yıldırım warned subscribers to carefully monitor their data usage limits, as the new technology may exceed data packages quickly, spelling trouble for consumers with higher costs.