Australia’s second-largest telecommunications company, Optus today announced that it will be the first to launch 5G wireless service in the country, beginning in early 2019. Having achieved test speeds of 2 Gigabits per second in an outdoor trial with Huawei hardware, Optus is promising “15 times faster” wireless internet, a significant improvement for Australian 4G/LTE users.
The recent trial focused on so-called fixed 5G wireless, which replaces traditional wired broadband modems for homes or businesses with a high-speed wireless device. In this case, the tested Huawei 5G dual-band device used spectrum in both millimeter-wave and 3.5GHz bands. Optus says that its early 2019 rollout will focus on fixed 5G hardware, with mobile 5G — smartphones, tablets, and other portable devices — following once release dates are more concrete.
Optus expects to spend 2018 building out its network using 4.5G bridge technologies that can be quickly leveraged for 5G service when needed. On its own and with its Singaporean parent company, Singtel, Optus has partnered with Huawei and Nokia to collaborate on 5G networking gear, recently testing Huawei’s in-home devices, as well as Nokia’s tower-mounted hardware. Optus will work with its partners on fining-tune their 5G hardware to ensure compatibility with the global 5G standard.
Australia’s leading carrier, Telstra, has not yet announced its 5G plans but has said that 2018 will be a “big year” for 5G and that it is planning a trial for the Commonwealth Games in April.