The telco battle to be first to roll out 5G first has been won. Telstra has announced tonight that they have switched on their 5G network across all major cities in Australia.
While 5G will deliver stupid fast speeds to a ridiculous amount of devices, right now, you can’t use it. The network and devices are kind of in a chicken and egg phase and we now have our answer, the network comes first before devices.
To enable the prototype 5G devices to be tested, they need a 5G-enabled network and now they have one in the form of Telstra. Expect plenty of hardware vendors to make their way to these new locations.
Consumer access to 5G will be similar to the rollout of 3G and 4G networks, where you may purchase a 5G enabled device next year, but serviced locations at that higher speed will be limited at first. Your device will work fine on 4G, but if you’re in a 5G area, you’ll get the higher speeds.
Telstra’s have acquired an ‘early access’ licence from ACMA to operate 5G over the 3.5GHz spectrum they purchased last week at auction. Telstra dropped A$386 million on the wireless spectrum, so it’s not surprising they want to get it up and running, sooner rather than later.
Given the phase of 5G we’re in, Telstra still have a lot of convincing to do with business and consumers, so it makes sense they have upgraded their Customer Insight Centre at 400 George St, Sydney with 5G technology.
There’s also a 5G enabled mobile base station near Sydney Airport. Given this is a high-traffic area that often faces congestion and therefore slower speed, an prioritising somewhere like an airport makes plenty of sense.
Telstra Labs at 242 Exhibition St, Melbourne has also been enhanced with 5G, with a 5G mobile base station near Melbourne Airport will also come online later this week.
Telstra have been quietly enabling 5G sites throughout the country, they now 187 mobile base stations, with 13 more planned before the end of the year, that are 5G enabled.
So where are all the 5G devices ? Just wait for CES in January, every piece of electronics with a chip in it will be able to connect to 5G next year.
Telstra have said they are committed to regional centres (hoping that includes Albury Wodonga) and high traffic areas in 2019 and beyond. 5G upgrades are expected to help deliver better 4G speeds, so while we don’t have hardware yet, we may get a benefit from the tower upgrades in the short-term.
Merry Christmas NBN.