Telstra strikes ‘exclusive’ 5G handset deals

Telstra customers will be the first in Australia to get their hands on phones from some of the ‘world’s biggest brands,’ telco says

Telstra says that it has deals with some of the “world’s biggest brands” for exclusive access to 5G smartphones in the first half of this year.

The telco would not reveal the names of vendors, but said that it meant that initially only Telstra customers would be able to get their hands on the devices in Australia (Telstra implied that the partnership agreements did not preclude the handsets eventually being offered by other telcos).

Last year the company demonstrated a commercial 5G device from HTC, as well as prototypes from ZTE and Inseego, but indicated it was working with a range of additional device-makers in the lead-up to the launch of 5G services.

“The 5G revolution is now very real,” Telstra CEO Andy Penn said in a statement. The chief executive said that the company had enabled 5G support at more than 200 mobile base stations, with Telstra in December revealing it had switched on support for the next-generation standard at its first sites in Sydney in Melbourne.

The company last year spent $386 million to buy spectrum in the 3.6GHz band, which it will use to deliver its first wave of 5G services.

“This is the year of 5G and, as a world leader in the testing and development of 5G, we have been working closely with numerous global manufacturing and industry partners to make this revolutionary technology real-world ready,” Penn said.

“These strategic relationships are now paying off directly for our customers, who will soon have exclusive access to 5G enabled devices on the nation’s largest and fastest mobile network, and other devices will also soon hit our stores.”

“We are committed to ensuring our customers get the best technology and deals on Australia’s best mobile network,” the CEO said. “We continue to hold discussions with a number of device manufacturers and we look forward to making further exciting announcements in the near future.”

Telstra in October announced that it had signed an agreement with Ericsson, anointing the Swedish company as its key 5G network partner. The announcement follows a range of 5G initiative by the duo, including a trial data call over mmWave spectrum and over 3.5GHz spectrum using Telstra’s commercial network.

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