Telstra 5G has arrived in Australia, what does it mean for you?

5G is something that mobile users around the country have been talking about for months, and now it is available in selected areas. This is the next generation in mobile technology, it will transform the way we live and work, connecting devices faster, at high quality.

Powertec Telecommunications General Manager, Samantha Clifton is optimistic about the fantastic benefits that 5G will bring for customers.

“This is just the first stage of 5G, the true 5G will come in 1-2 years when millimetre 5G is released. Powertec’s latest product release is the 5G panel antenna from Mars, we are working with our other suppliers to get more of our products 5G ready.”

Coverage is currently limited to 500m from a Telstra tower (up to 1km line of sight). It will be available in 10 cities including the Gold Coast, Launceston and Toowoomba. So, it will be limited to urban areas for some years, there are talks of utilising the lower 700-900 bands and maybe even 450Mhz in the future. To see detailed coverage maps click here.

Things you should know about 5G

What is 5G?

5G is the fifth generation of mobile network technology, following 2G, 3G and 4G. It has the potential to offer super-fast connections and response times and more capacity than previous generations and is designed to meet the needs of the large growth in demand for data and connectivity from our customers and businesses. It works in conjunction with existing mobile technologies like 4G.

What is currently called 5G in Australia, can be described as being more like“4.5G” and is limited to defined areas of major cities at present and is actually referring to Sub-6 GHz and advanced LTE rather than 5G via mmWave which is currently receiving international publicity. mmWave is where we will see the real benefits of what 5G can offer.

What is all the hype about?

Telstra has stated that there are three main benefits:

  1. More capacity: your cellular data will perform better in crowded, public spaces with multiple users attempting to utilise it
  2. Faster speeds: customers will enjoy high-speed downloads (up to 1.2Mbps down at present) and uploads for streaming and sharing on social media
  3. Less latency: increased responsiveness for gaming

What devices currently support it?

Nextivity, who make 3G and 4G Cel-Fi products, advise that they are in the development stage of a 5G version of Cel-Fi but that it may be several years before it is available in Australia as it will be that long until we see the widespread rollout of 5G.  Telstra’s exclusive partnerships, with some of the world’s leading smartphone manufacturers, has resulted in some exciting new products. Make sure to check out the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, which offers high-speed downloads and uploads for streaming and sharing using state-of-the-art technology.

What does it mean for rural customers?

It will go rural and is currently available in Toowoomba. Telstra has said that Telstra is committed to providing 5G technology to regional Australia.

“Bringing the transformational technology of 5G to Toowoomba, a key regional centre and one of the fastest growing cities in the country is exciting for the possibilities it will enable, be it in education, health, community services, business and agriculture. For a sector like agriculture, the fibre-like data speeds, low latency and high performance and capacity of 5G open up fantastic opportunities for growth.”

The 3G and 4G networks will remain in place, with no immediate plans to switch-off. Rural areas will get a form of 5G called “low-band” or “sub-6” 5G, which will not deliver the same benefits that urban areas will receive. Due to the way 5G signal works and the higher bands it currently utilises, it is unlikely that it will be available for customers outside highly populated areas for some time. With 5G currently being deployed on the higher 3500Mhz band, distances from the towers are typically limited up to 1km line of sight. This makes it hard to deploy outside of urban areas in its initial stages.

Are 3G and 4G still relevant?

The carriers have not provided us with any specifics about 3G shutdown but previously they gave several years notice at the shutdown of 2G, so we should receive significant notification about a 3G shutdown. Instead of finishing with the 3G network completely, operators appear to be scaling back the capacity of 3G and may split up the band to provide 3G and 4G on a band traditionally used for 3G. The fact you can still buy a 3G phone on the Telstra website suggests 3G is not going away in the immediate future.

4G still has plenty of capability and development to come with boundaries currently being pushed and technology still being rolled out and developed.  Some of the areas where we will see great changes in the next few years include Voice over WiFi, Video over LTE, LTE Broadcast, 2 GB connectivity (just released), CAT-M1, and massive MIMO development.

Quotes sourced from Telstra media release: https://www.telstra.com.au/aboutus/media/media-releases/Telstra-rolls-out-regional-5G-first-in-Toowoomba 

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