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New phones, expanding 5G and more: our news from CES 2020

Tech and Innovation 5G

Posted on January 9, 2020

3 min read

The annual Consumer Electronics Show – or CES – sets the stage for the year ahead in tech. With almost 200,000 attendees from around the world converging on Las Vegas in January each year, it is the largest event of its kind and is where tech companies go to showcase their latest cutting-edge products.

Our thoughts for those at home

It is a strange feeling being over here in Las Vegas, watching the bushfire crisis unfold in Australia.

The bushfires are top of mind for the Telstra team over here, as well as pretty much every partner we’ve spoken to. We’ve been relaying what Telstra has been doing for our emergency services and customers, in particular our disaster assistance packages in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, as well as assistance for firefighters, payphone users and those looking to get emergency information via the mobile web.

We’re also matching donations from our people to the Red Cross for the month of January to help ensure these communities get the help they need to get back their feet. We’ll continue to do all we can throughout the year to help ensure the affected communities can stay connected and supported.

While it has been difficult to divert our attention away from the news back home, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to update you on the latest from Telstra at CES given that’s what we’re here for.

What’s next for gaming in 2020

We made a lot of ground in 2019, especially in the entertainment space. We were pleased to partner with Microsoft to launch as an exclusive partner for Xbox All Access in Q4 2019, for example. Since its launch on 29 October, we’ve been overwhelmed by demand that has far surpassed our initial pre-sale estimates.

We’re happy that our customers are embracing gaming like never before thanks to the convenient bundle that puts hundreds of games on offer faster than ever. To celebrate, we’re bringing more to our gaming offer than ever in 2020, with the addition of new games and hardware for our customers.

From January 28, 2020, we will be adding Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Deluxe Edition to the Xbox All Access Bundle. This game will also be offered on top of existing inclusions so that nobody misses out on the experience of being a Jedi Master. Furthermore, we’ll be offering the amazing new Xbox Elite Wireless controller on a repayment option over 24 and 36 months and adding it to our Telstra Plus Rewards Store.

We’re continuing to make our network faster for gamers too, building on the existing work we’ve done with Microsoft to make access to Xbox content even faster and more reliable. The work we teased late last year on creating a gaming optimised broadband product also isn’t too far away. We think it offers a real point of difference from customers that are purchasing additional gaming routers or gaming VPNs today in a way that’s simple and integrated into our Smart Modem. Over time we think there’s some cool concepts that could incorporate the work we’re doing on low-latency mobile connections and give gamers the choice of network they want to use to get the best gaming outcome. 

Gaming is a $7 billion per year business in Australia alone, and the appetite for our Xbox All Access offering certainly confirms that it’s no fly-by-night fad.

Improving home Wi-Fi in 2020

Delivering WiFi has been a big part of the in-home experience and a big part of our vendor discussions. The big technologies this year by our vendor partners (Technicolor, Arcadyan, Netgear) are EasyMesh and WiFi 6, the new WiFi standard which will take the home wireless network to a whole new level.

WiFi 6 will also allow more devices connected to the network with increased speed and coverage and can help optimise devices depending on if they are streaming 4K content, playing low-latency games, or simply browsing the web.

A fixed line in the home is now the gateway to countless hours of entertainment, and the beachhead in the home is the Wi-Fi access point. Our customers know that Wi-Fi is important to their home entertainment experience, but improving it can be complex. Thick walls can cause spotty coverage, creating a lacklustre experience, but we’re setting out to solve those problems with our 2020 product line up.

We’ve got a great set of products that solve many of the common household Wi-Fi problems, and we can’t wait to share more about it soon!

Talking tough with the new Tough Max 3 

CES is the home of new technology, which is why we’re announcing a brand-new handset for our line up in 2020: the Tough Max 3. It’s a global exclusive for us, and we think it’s perfect for Australia.

It’s not only Tough by name, it’s tough by nature, with military-grade IP68 water and dust resistance and an immersion rating of 1.5 metres for 30 minutes. It has huge battery power – almost a third bigger than the Tough Max 2 – and packs all the mod-cons, including fingerprint sensor, USB-C charging and NFC.

Best of all, it has facial recognition, meaning you can unlock your device while wearing gloves or getting your hands dirty. It works on even the toughest of mugs. And all these rugged yet modern features weigh just 180g, making it even more convenient.

The Tough Max 3 is available from 14 January, 2019 for $499 outright, and on our 24- or 36-month repayment options on our new plans at an extra $20.79 or $13.86 per month (plus plan costs) respectively.

We know our rural and tradie customers will love this device. We’ve already sold hundreds of thousands of rugged phones over the last four years, and the new Tough Max 3 is the best one yet.

Huge progress with 5G

In 2019 we launched Australia’s first 5G network. We’re incredibly proud of that fact, and we’re not slowing our progress in 2020.

We’re pleased to see our customers are excited as we are about this new technology. Since late May last year, we’ve added nearly 100,000 5G services to our network, which is huge. We’re also excited to see that customers who aren’t yet covered by the 5G footprint already readying themselves for service, with a quarter of the phones we’ve sold since July 2019 5G-compatible.

Those customers will be well-served throughout 2020, with our rollout expanding to an additional nine cities over the next six months. Right now, we already have 800 5G sites live around the country, and we’ve started rolling out in 26 cities.

CES is a great opportunity to look at new technology that’s coming down the pike, and we’re excited to see a number of vendors showing off second-generation 5G chipsets set to materialise in consumer devices in the next six months.

Research from Telsyte shows that 5G has incredible momentum, and we’re well-placed to capitalise on that. 5G adoption is set to be faster than previous generations, with 15 million handset services expected to be in operation by the end of June 2023.

We’re keen to bring the 5G revolution to even more people this year.

Doing more with our Internet of Things network

Speaking of cutting-edge networks, we’re making our IoT network even better. We’ve improved the coverage of our narrowband IoT network from a single site from 100 kilometres to 120 kilometres. This means we’ll expand the coverage of this narrowband IoT network from an impressive 3.5 million square kilometres to nearly 4 million square kilometres. We hope to complete that expansion in the early part of this year.

To use the best that the new network has to offer, we’ve launched a new Locator device connected to the Cat-M1 network. The new Locator Cat-M1 Tag reports the location of tagged items through the combined capabilities of our Bluetooth Locator Community and our world-leading cellular IoT network, improving the ability for Locator to help to track your stuff down. 

Australian businesses are losing $4.3 billion in assets every year, including items like lab equipment, IT plant and even vehicles! 82% of these companies try to locate their gear, but only 22% ever find it once it’s lost. That’s what we want to solve with Locator and the new Cat-M1 device.

The uptake of our Locator offering shows that Aussies are keen to make sure they don’t lose their stuff in 2020. The number of data points created for our customers with our Bluetooth community has gone from 7 million in February 2019 to 65 million in November 2019. As of today, the combined number of Locator customers (across Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Cat-M1) is a whopping 87 million.

We’ve also had discussions with vendors about the opportunities for companies to provide ways to manage, maintain, and diagnose their devices. As we connect more and more things to the internet, how can customers seamlessly diagnose and fix problems easily and seamlessly without digging out five troubleshooting manuals?

We’ll be bringing you more news from CES this week as we roam the show floor for the best that 2020 has to offer. Stay tuned.

Tags: 5g, gaming, Wi-Fi,