Optus to launch fixed-wireless 5G service in 2019

06 Feb 2018

Australian telecoms operator Optus said it plans to roll out a fixed-wireless 5G service in key metro areas by early 2019. The announcement comes after the launch of an outdoor trial of 5G New Radio (NR), which showed 2Gbps download speeds for a fixed wireless service in homes and businesses, the Singtel subsidiary said.

The trial, conducted at its headquarters in Macquarie Park in Sydney in January, used dual-band 5G NR equipment and commercial grade CPEs for both C-band and millimeter wave band frequencies. C-band is within the same spectrum range of Optus’ 3.5GHz, which has been earmarked for 5G deployment, the operator said. The mmWave band 5G network has the capability to reach peak data speeds of 15Gbps to a single user, which is 15x what 4.5G is capable of today.

“Everyone has heard of concepts like self-driving cars, smart homes, AI and virtual reality however their full potential will require a fast and reliable network to deliver,” said Optus managing director of networks Dennis Wong.

“Seeing 5G data speeds through our trial that are up to 15x faster than current technologies allows us to show the potential of this transformative technology to support a new ecosystem of connected devices in the home, the office, the paddock and in the wider community.”

Optus will also be hosting a 5G technology showcase during the 2018 Commonwealth Games, which will be held on the Gold Coast in Queensland from April 4 to 15 this year, allowing visitors to experience a taste of what 5G will be able to deliver.

Use cases to be demonstrated during the Commonwealth Games include real-time in virtual reality, competing against machines in games, and remotely controlling robot’s movements, Wong said.

“As we continue to develop Optus 5G technologies and prepare for deployment in 2019, it is also important to ensure people understand the capabilities it can offer, and how it is able to benefit their day-to-day lives,” he noted.

Wong said Optus has been working towards the delivery of 5G technology since 2016. Throughout 2017, Optus launched 4.5G technology and a trial of 3CC CA massive MIMO technologies in preparation of an eventual 5G rollout.

Additionally, Optus snapped up a variety of new metropolitan licenses for its customers in the 2300 MHz and 3500 MHz spectrum bands during last year’s spectrum auctions, boosting its spectrum holdings in the relevant fields for 5G technologies.

“Now 3GPP has finalized most parts of the world-wide standardization of 5G technologies, Optus can increase momentum and throughout 2018, Optus is going to lead the Australian market in the development and deployment of pre-5G and 5G technologies,” said Wong.

Telstra opens 5G Innovation Center on Gold Coast

Meanwhile rival Telstra has launched a 5G innovation center at Southport Exchange on the Gold Coast in Queensland, a few days after Optu’s announcement.

The Australian incumbent said the main aim of the new 5G center will be to test next-generation technologies to support the early commercial deployment of 5G mobile services in Australia. Telstra also aims to launch commercial 5G services in Australia in 2019.

The center is a key part of Telstra's A$60 million ($47.3 million) investment in upgrading infrastructure on the Gold Coast to support growing demand and major events in the area, specifically the 2018 Commonwealth Games in April.

The A$60 million is part of the A$5 billion investment Telstra is investing in its networks in the three years to June 30 2019, Telstra chief operations officer Robyn Denholm said.

“Telstra has already conducted Australia’s first 5G field trial and the world’s first 5G outdoor data call over 26GHz ‘mmWave’ radiofrequency spectrum. From our new 5G Innovation Center we will be completing a number of 5G firsts in 2018 to ensure Australia remains at the forefront of mobile technology,” Denholm said.

“5G will take us from a world of connecting people to each other and the internet to a world of ultra-fast mobile speeds and the Internet of Things on a mass scale. These enhancements will unleash a host of new opportunities – everything from smart cities and smart homes, to drones and driverless cars, to augmented reality in both entertainment and at work.”

At the launch on Monday, Telstra highlighted the current 5G demos and use cases include:

  • A 5G field trial using a moving vehicle demonstrating how the high bandwidth and low latency of 5G can deliver an immersive view from the driver’s perspective via virtual reality headsets and support autonomous driving.
  • A speed test of around 3 Gbps down and 300 Mbps up over mmWave spectrum demonstrating the speed and capacity that will be achieved over 5G and how that will support advanced multimedia applications such as augmented and virtual reality.
  • How drones enabled with artificial intelligence can support surf lifesaving and be operated on a mass scale by 5G beam forming technology targeting each drone.
  • A robotic arm demonstrating how the ultra-low latency of 5G can support a range of industrial applications requiring precise control.

Telstra will also conduct 5G field trials in the coming months in and around the Gold Coast, where industry body 3GPP will host a meeting in September to consider the global standards for 5G.

“We look forward to hosting leading 5G developers from around the world so Australian businesses can begin developing products and services that will take advantage of 5G,” Denholm said. “Our activities at the Innovation Center will culminate in the 3GPP meeting later in 2018 that will play a critical role in setting the 5G standards underpinning the launch of commercial services.”

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