Telstra revealed today that it had begun switching on 5G support at a range of its mobile sites on the Gold Coast, as it prepares to begin offering services based on the new standard.
5G will be capable of delivering faster speeds and lower latency compared to 4G. It will also allow telcos to reduce the cost per bit of traffic across their mobile networks and more easily deliver services to large numbers of devices in a single area.
Telstra said that more than 200 5G sites are expected to be live by the end of the year.
The Gold Coast has already hosted a range of high-profile 5G initiatives by Telstra. In February the telco threw open the doors to its 5G Innovation Centre, which has served as the based for a range of 5G trials, such as a 5G-Connected Car. In March, the company announced it had switched on the first precinct of 5G-enabled Wi-Fi hot spots in the world.
“Today we have switched on 5G-capable sites on the Gold Coast, which enable us to test 5G precommercial devices in real world conditions and use unique innovations like our Connected Car to test our 5G footprint,” said Telstra CEO Andrew Penn.
“It also means we can connect compatible commercial 5G devices for customers in 5G areas as they become available.”
The Gold Coast sites are operating using 3.6GHz spectrum, which has emerged as one of the key bands for 5G applications. The Australian Communications and Media Authority is currently preparing to auction off 125MHz of spectrum in the band, with Telstra, Vodafone, Optus and TPG all expected to participate.
Telstra said that its planned 5G mobile service will use both sub-6GHz spectrum and mmWave spectrum — last year the telco and Ericsson announced that they had conducted a call over mmWave spectrum. The ACMA is currently examining the accelerated release of 26GHz band spectrum.
Initially at least, 5G and 4G services will coexist on Australian telcos’ mobile networks, with Vodafone, Telstra and Optus continuing to push the boundaries of what’s possible with the older wireless standard.
Penn has previously said that Telstra will roll out 5G in three phases. Currently the company is in the middle of the first phase. The second phase will involve the mainstream availability of 5G-capable smartphones, while the third will “comprise the longer-term opportunities for growth, many of which have not even been identified yet,” the CEO said during a strategy update earlier this year.
Today’s announcement comes ahead of Telstra’s FY18 results, which will be announced tomorrow morning. In response to changes in the telco market including increased mobile competition the company has embarked on a new strategy that will see it shed jobs, including those of some senior executives, as part of a shift to a new operating structure.