Australian telecom operator Telstra has started 5G field tests in anticipation of the next-generation mobile service being launched in the country in 2020.
The field tests will use network technology provided by Ericsson and will study 5G capabilities in a real-world setting in areas like network capacity and speed, latency, use of antennas and beam steering technology.
Telstra’s group managing director for networks Mike Wright said that 5G has the capability to connect many more users than current 4G technology and collect massive amount of data for real-time decision making.
This will change the way consumers live and impact the way businesses, government and industry operate, he noted.
When available, 5G will offer more capacity, higher speeds, and lower latency, he said at a special demonstration for Australian and Southeast Asian media in Melbourne today.
The new 5G technology will also enable new machine-to-machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) applications in mining, self-drive cars, autonomous drones, automation, monitoring in mining and other areas, he added.
The experience from the trial and the data collected will help Telstra contribute to the international 5G industry standards.
Australia is a large country with specific requirements, said Wright. “We’ve a large rural area, how can we use 5G to connect people who live there. How far apart for example, can we put the antennas in the rural areas to ensure that there are signals and thus connectivity?”
These are issues that need to be addressed in the standards so that upcoming technologies are well-suited to the country, he added.
In a recent blog on Telstra Exchange, he wrote that the telco had sent its engineers to work with Ericsson’s research team in Sweden where they were developing 5G radio channel models. The Telstra engineers will also be trained on the fundamentals of 5G radio operations.
“This is key to ensure that we’re bringing the best experience to our Australian customers” he said in the blog.
The first 5G trial is expected to be rolled in the Gold Coast in 2018.
Grace Chng, a veteran tech writer, is in Melbourne to attend Telstra Vantage 2016.