In another milestone on our 5G roadmap, we’ve connected a customer with a commercial 5G device on our 5G technology for the first time.

Our first customer using a 5G device is FKG Group in Toowoomba, a commercial construction and civil engineering company that has divisions specialising in technology innovation including data centres.

FKG will use the first iteration of the HTC 5G Hub mobile broadband hotspot to test the device’s connectivity to our mobile network that we have enabled 5G on in parts of the area.

Toowoomba is a regional centre with a major local industry centred around agriculture, contributing to its position as one of the fastest growing cities in Australia. The over 4,000 farms in the area are part of an agriculture sector producing $4 billion in annual value, and all can benefit from the improved connectivity and transformative technologies that 5G will bring.

Earlier this year, we announced a partnership with the National Farmers Federation to power the future of farmers around Australia, including through the opportunities enabled by 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT). The agriculture industry already uses IoT to track herds of livestock and monitor crops across vast areas, and 5G will make it possible to massively scale up these efforts to improve water usage and reduce waste using smart sensors on our mobile network.

Our early testing with FKG will focus on their experience as a customer, with extensive familiarisation and testing of the device’s features and connectivity. We’ll also be demonstrating the real world improvements to our 4G service that come along with our 5G site upgrades, delivering faster speeds and more capacity across our network.

We’re committed to getting 5G devices into our customers’ hands as early as possible – part of our mission to lead on 5G, and to test in real world environments across the country. We are similarly committed to rolling out 5G across both metropolitan and regional areas, bringing the latest technology to our customers in the bush as well as in Australia’s capital cities.

While Telstra’s network is 5G ready in parts of Toowoomba, the user experience benefits of 5G are not expected to become available until the first half of 2019.

Our 5G upgrades also give a boost to 4G technology, allowing for faster speeds for customers with existing 4G devices.

As the first wave of 5G devices become available at scale, we will offer them to customers. We expect this will happen in the first half of 2019, but this limited launch now is a vital step in validating our network and processes to accommodate the new technology.

In the last 12 months, we have pioneered in 5G with a string of Australian and world firsts including the first 5G call, the first 5G to 5G video call, the first live 5G connection with a commercial chipset and a string of 5G mobile base station upgrades across both cities and regional areas.

Grant Statton, CEO of FKG’s Digital Innovation and Energy Division, is looking forward to the potential that the new technology enables. “It’s fantastic working with Telstra and having the opportunity to test one of the first 5G devices in the country. Being at the forefront of this advanced technology will greatly assist FKG and its newly developed Aatlis Innovation Precinct to explore IoT use cases and pilot innovative solutions in the agriculture and food value chain.”

We have been switching on 5G and upgrading mobile base station sites around the country since August of this year, making our mobile network the first in the country to be 5G ready. Toowoomba was the first regional centre to be upgraded, and now has 22 5G-enabled sites in the area where FKG is located.

Around the country, we have enabled 130 sites with 5G technology, and are on track to deliver 200 sites before the end of the year that are 5G ready and that also deliver world leading 4G speeds on Australia’s largest and fastest* mobile network.

* All references to Australia’s fastest network are based on national average combined 3G/4G mobile speeds.