Telstra, in partnership with Ericsson, has tested one of the world’s first 5G radio test beds in Melbourne, bringing the next generation of wireless technology once step closer to deployment.
5G is about imagining the future. It will take us from a world of connecting people to people and people to the internet, to a world that includes connecting machines to machines on a mass scale. This is a technology that will fundamentally change the way our world works.
The increase in performance 5G will bring will not only continue to benefit mobile broadband and smartphone experiences, but will also be essential to supporting the expected increase in the Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices. It’s a technology that will exist until beyond 2030, so it’s important to think ahead about what wireless communications will mean in that time-frame.
Last month, we announced Telstra would be the first to test Ericsson’s 5G test bed in Australia. The first live 5G trial in Australia has now been conducted, demonstrating 5G capabilities in a real world environment, including speed and beam steering tests.
- Speed: We know 5G is going to be much faster than today’s mobile networks. The test bed used 800 MHz of spectrum in a previously unattainable, high frequency band, which is 10 times more spectrum than we use with our 4G service. Testing revealed total download speeds (to two mobiles) greater than 20 Gbps which is very impressive in a real world, outdoor environment.
- Beam steering: Beam steering technology, where the beam steering antenna array tracks a user’s location and directs a mobile signal straight to their device rather than sending it out in all directions or to a particular sector as it does today. The tests demonstrated the accuracy beam steering can achieve as a result of less interference and a higher quality signal. This means more capacity in the network and an improved network performance.
Earlier tests also indicated latency (the time it takes to send a signal from your mobile, to the network, and then get it back again) in 5G will be significantly lower than what we see in 4G networks. Lower latency is going to be crucial for supporting IoT, as well as virtual and augmented reality.
But what made this trial really significant is we took the test bed out of the laboratory and into real world, outdoor conditions. Australia’s environment, size, and population density is unique, and it means we need to consider different things to other countries. We’re even trying to understand how radio signals propagate in through gumtrees.
Along with the test bed, contributing to the international 5G industry standards is key to ensuring the technology will be best suited to Australia. Telstra has been using our experience to contribute to these standards, which means 5G will be the first technology that comes to us ready for Australian conditions.
Preparation will be key to ensuring Australia is ready for 5G post 2020, and Telstra now has a truly realistic view of what 5G will be able to offer.