5G Networks Are Coming But Devices May Lag

Image: Telstra

Telstra has demonstrated the capability of their new 5G network in a trial using the HTC 5G Hub mobile smart device. Although the company had previously shown off some the 5G network's capability using prototype devices, this was the first trial of a commercially available device in Australia. The HTC 5G Hub will be available next year but other devices will take some time to filter into the market.

The HTC 5G Hub, which uses a Snapdragon X50 5G modem, was connected to the company's 5G Innovation Centre on the Gold Coast and the company's production network in Sydney. But the company also revealed a 5G smartphone prototype from ZTE and a 5G mobile hotspot prototype from Inseego with a range of other technology vendors testing 5G devices with Telstra.

As well as the Innovation Centre, Telstra's CEO Andy Penn said "Hand in hand with our 5G rollout and supported by our network partner Ericsson, the 200 base stations we are enabling with 5G before the end of the year will also support peak speeds approaching 2Gbps for enhanced 4G".

The faster 4G performance was demonstrated using a new NETGEAR Nighthawk M2 Mobile Router with a live speed test revealing the 2Gbps peak speed capability of the device on Telstra’s mobile network.

So, as well as 5G, we'll be getting faster 4G - which is good news as many major phone makers seem to be holding back begone rolling out 5G handsets.

Most pundits agree that the first 5G-enabled iPhones won't leave Apple's factories until 2020. But I find it hard to believe Apple will allow themselves to be overtaken by competitors with Samsung announcing their first 5G phones will be available in 2019. There are also rumours that the Galaxy S10, which is expected to be released during Mobile World Congress in February 2019, will come with a 5G option.

And we already know, from Telstra's trial that HTC and ZTE are on the 5G train

LG has also announced 5G phones for the US market which suggests they could have units available for our market as well.

So, while there are lots of plans for 5G handsets, it's not clear which ones will land here next year. And, as there are with many new standards, there's still some confusion as to whether a device that is 5G ready in one country will offer the same performance in another as there are differences in the frequency spectrums being used in different countries.

I suspect that's what is behind Apple's decision to hold back. Once the dust settles, there should be some consolidation with common frequencies adopted globally allowing handset and other end-point device makers to produce equipment that will work similarly everywhere.

When 4G was introduced, there were similar teething issues as handsets worked differently depending on what spectrum was used by telcos.


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