Telstra announced what it said was Australia’s first live 5G connection using a commercial chipset on its mobile network on the Gold Coast.
The operator, the largest in the country with a 50 per cent market share, said the 5G 3GPP Release 15 data call was made using its 3.5GHz spectrum, Ericsson’s latest 5G network software and Qualcomm’s commercial 5G chipset in a form factor device.
Channa Seneviratne, a network engineering executive at Telstra, said field testing with a commercial chipset and its live network moves verification from “the lab into the street”. He added that the announcement is a significant milestone as it signals commercial 5G devices are getting closer.
The operator also said it turned on two 5G-enabled base stations in the state of Tasmania. In August it switched on its first 5G-compatible cell sites in Gold Coast to enable testing of pre-commercial devices, with aims to deploy more than 200 sites across Australia by the year-end.
Telstra plans a commercial 5G launch in 2019 and is engaged in various trials at its 5G Innovation Centre in Gold Coast, which it opened in February.
Telstra launches its first 5G-enabled sites in Tasmania
Embargoed until 8am 22 November 2018 – Telstra has switched on two 5G-enabled base stations in Launceston, bringing 5G technology to Tasmania for the first time.
Speaking at the TasICT Industry Breakfast in Hobart, Telstra’s Network Engineering Executive, Mr Channa Seneviratne, said the sites, at Invermay and Norwood, marked an important milestone in Telstra’s 5G network strategy.
“This is an exciting first step for our 5G rollout in Tasmania with Launceston now among the first cities in Australia to have sites upgraded with 5G technology,” Mr Seneviratne said. “This investment is part of our planning to bring 5G services to as many of our customers as possible once 5G compatible devices are commercially available next year.
“Telstra is leading the Australian market on 5G with a series of world and Australian firsts in 5G testing and network development and over the coming months we will continue expanding our 5G roadmap with plans to roll out to more capital cities, regional centres and other high demand areas across Australia.”
With the switch-on of the two sites in Launceston, Telstra now has more than 60 5G-enabled base stations across Australia, at locations including Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Toowoomba.
Telstra is on track to deploy 200 5G-enabled mobile base stations by the end of 2018. 5G technology will transform the mobile landscape, delivering ultra-low latency and high-data speeds while supporting massive machine-type communications.
Telstra’s rollout of 5G is underpinned by the around $5 billion in mobile network investment over the three years to 30 June 2019, consistent with previous guidance, to enhance the capacity, capability and reach of Telstra’s network.
Last month Telstra announced Ericsson would be its key 5G partner under an agreement that will see the two companies partner to deliver the next generation of mobile technology for Australia.
In late 2017, Telstra and Ericsson completed a world first 5G trial data call over mmWave spectrum using Telstra’s production core network.
In February Telstra launched its 5G Innovation Centre on the Gold Coast supported by Ericsson. That Centre has since been home to several world and Australian firsts including the world’s first precinct of 5G-enabled WiFi hotspots, Australia’s first 5G Connected Car and the world’s first end-to-end 5G nonstandalone data call on a commercial mobile network.
In August, Telstra announced it had started switching on 5G technology, making Australia’s largest and fastest* mobile network the first in the country to be 5G ready.
As for how many additional base stations will likely be eventually needed for full 5G in Launceston. The following from an industry report is interesting:
These short range stations will likely be constructed from densely packed antenna arrays, which is incidentally exactly what’s needed for increased capacity. Furthermore, larger antenna arrays have already been shown to boost the range of even very high frequency implementations. A 2016 NTT DOCOMO study presented at the Brooklyn 5G Summit suggests that a 77 X 77 antenna array of 6,000 elements can exceed a kilometer in distance at 3.5 GHz and can even cover over 800 meters at 30 GHz. Even so, this would require potentially 40 to 50 base stations to provide the same area coverage as 8 to 10 4G stations, although speeds will be much higher.
Does that mean 5 times the current number of base stations will be needed for full 5G in Launceston? Will the public have any say in where these are put and has Telstra told the Launcestion Council how many additional base stations will eventually be required?