Optus will launch its 5G fixed network next year

Photo: Sergio Dionisio / Getty Images

Singtel Optus will begin rolling out a 5G fixed network early next year following successful trials with speeds 15 times faster than current technologies.

The telecommunications company recently launched an outdoor trial for 5G New Radio and is set to showcase the technology at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, including trials of its mobile network.

The fifth generation “5G” in mobile connectivity has long been expected to open up virtual and augmented reality real-time gaming and applications, and to spur on the “internet of things”. Optus will now role out a fixed 5G wireless product in some metro markets, as it continues its move into the mobile product.

The new generation of wireless is also expected to be one of the requirements for self-driving cars and smart homes to take off due to its near-instant speed ability.

There has been speculation over would be the first provider to release 5G to the public, with Telstra also taking steps towards a 5G rollout.

In January, Telstra chief executive Andrew Penn said 2018 would be “a big year for 5G” with both companies undertaking testing of the technology.

It is understood Telstra is also expecting to start rolling out the technology shortly.

Optus has been developing its 5G technology since 2016, later launching 4.5G in 2017.

Exactly what constitutes 5G as a network has yet to be completely defined, but “most parts” have been finalised by 3GPP, Optus managing director of networks Dennis Wong said.

“People have been hearing about 5G for some time, and there is pent up expectation, but to date a lot of the talk has been highly theoretical,” he said.

“Seeing 5G data speeds through our trial that are up to 15 times faster than current technologies allows us to show the potential of this transformative technology to support a new ecosystem of connected devices.”

The company is still continuing to develop its 5G technologies, though this is the among the first time an Australian telco has put a firm timeline on when to expect an initial rollout.

Telstra group managing director Mike Wright said it was also preparing for 5G, and expected to be “offering 5G services in 2019” though was not able to say when in the year.

Deloitte’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications Predictions 2018 expected most developed markets would have access by 2023.

Major American telco AT&T announced it would rollout 5G in some US cities by the end of 2018 and rival Verizon has similar plans.

Most had anticipated 2020 as a more likely year for Australians to have access to 5G networks.

This article was originally published by the Sydney Morning Herald’s Business Day. Read more here, or follow Business Day on Facebook.

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