The rollout of the 5G network continues apace, with Telstra informing shareholders at their annual general meeting this week of their plans to have around 200 5G sites live by the end of the year.
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Thanks to the mess that the NBN has become, many Aussies fed up with dismal speeds and congestion on the NBN have resigned themselves to waiting for 5G to replace fixed connections. Most experts agree that 5G won't fully replace fixed connections, however - but it might be able to provide the speed fix the NBN desperately needs.
Public Wi-Fi used to be a lifesaver, something that let you escape the misery of poor reception to quickly contact friends or stay organised throughout the day.
But it's also a gigantic security risk. People still rely on public hotspots around the country though, because an exposed connection to the internet that works is preferable to poor reception or no reception at all. Something that might help change that, however, is 5G.
The wireless internet market is heating up as service providers, keen to take advantage of sub-par NBN services, and customers who are sick of waiting for the network to arrive in their neighbourhoods are looking at alternative solutions. One of those companies is Spirit Telecom and they claim to be bringing 5G technology to the party many months ahead of our major telcos.
A new research report by Deloitte has found that 5G technology will contribute to $50 billion to Australia’s economic growth through increased productivity, workforce participation and new business opportunities. With mobile tech already increasing the Aussie economy by 2%, recent forecasts by the Bureau of Communications and Arts Research put the benefits of 5G to Australia’s GDP at up to $2,000 per person, or between $32 billion and $50 billion, by 2030.
5G offers much faster download speeds by using higher frequencies. However, the trade-off is signals can't reach as far. Previous mobile standards were designed for more densely populated regions like Europe and the US, but when applied to Australia they can mean sparse coverage for our far-flung population. In short, long-range 5G standards need to be adopted to ensure we get decent coverage across the country.
Mobile World Congress (MWC) is about to launch in Barcelona and Intel intends to make a big splash. Having largely missed the boat when it comes to the smartphone and tablet markets, they are working with a number of OEMs to create portable computers are equipped with integrated 5G comms. At MWC, they'll be showing off a concept device, equipped with an early 5G modem and powered by 8th Generation Intel Core i5 processors.
As the NBN rollout slowly lurches on, data communications over cellular networks continue to bound along, seemingly overtaking the capability of the network that should be the centrepiece of our country's communications infrastructure. And there are plenty of people out there suggesting we won't need the NBN once 5G is widely deployed. But that's not quite how it will be.
Telstra and Optus announced this week that both would launch 5G services next year, and the general response was "sure, but it's not like they're going to give us a lot of data, so who cares?"
Will this be the case? I'm not so sure. One of the key benefits of 5G technology is a big increase in network capacity, so I'm quietly optimistic about how this will play out.
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.
This week, Vodafone held its first live public 5G demonstration in Australia, with Nokia at the University of Technology in Sydney. Gizmodo joined UTS staff and students watch robots deal with latency, eight simultaneous streams of Virtual Reality and of course -- speed tests using 5G capabilities.
But when will we get it, and what will it be used for?
Two weeks after Telstra revealed it had completed a live trial of a superfast 5G mobile network, Optus has announced it will be working with Nokia to collaborate on 5G. The telco hopes this partnership will help it beat its rivals to launching a 5G network in Australia and will be running tests using its 3500MHz spectrum. Here's what you need to know.