Optus says it will start the roll out of its Australian 5G network early next year in key metropolitan areas. This follows trials of 5G New Radio, which showed 2Gbps download speeds for a fixed wireless service in homes and businesses using C-band and mmWave. These delivered low latency and fast speeds. C-band is within the same spectrum range of Optus’ 3.5GHz, which has been earmarked for 5G deployment.
The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, being held from April 4 to 15 this year, will be one of the first opportunities people will haver to experience 5G, with Optus hosting a 5G technology showcase around the Broadbeach area. That's alongside Telstra's own trial of 5G will be using both 3.6GHz spectrum and millimetre-wave (mmWave) spectrum in the same area during the Commonwealth Games.
And while we're all happy to have faster speeds available to us, one of the big plays with 5G will be around IoT and autonomous vehicles. The need for fast communications between vehicles and traffic management systems make the deployment of fast networks a priority for companies wanting to be a part of that revolution.
Optus says the path to deploying 5G was aided by securing "a variety of new metropolitan licences for its customers in the 2300 MHz and 3500 MHz spectrum bands during recent Spectrum Auctions".
At this stage, none of the flagship mobile phones on the market support 5G. That's not surprising given the technology is still being trialled, the exact standards of what 5G is have only recently been clarified by standards bodies and carriers, and we're probably at least a year from wide-scale deployment. So, there's no need to rush out and buy a new smartphone or tablet just yet. And any conjecture that 5G will usurp the NBN as the fast network of choice is probably not thinking about how carriers charge for mobile data.
Given the first real-world deployments aren't likely until 2020, 5G is still a "watch this space' proposition.