Australia’s National Broadband Network Company (NBN Co) announced it will launch 5G trials in the 3.5GHz band in Melbourne to see how 5G works as an access technology for delivering Fixed Wireless Access (FWA).
The national wholesale provider will use Ericsson’s 5G New Radio equipment in the trials running on 100Mz of 3.5GHz spectrum.
“We really want to use these tests to find out more about the technology and how it can help us deliver better services to our fixed-wireless end-users across Australia,” NBN Co CTO Ray Owen said at an event in Sydney.
A representative told Mobile World Live there are no plans at this stage to expand the trials, which are expected to start soon and run for a relatively short period, beyond Melbourne.
The company runs more than 2,500 fixed-wireless base stations across the country, providing service to about 225,000 end-users.
In December 2017 it secured spectrum through a multibank auction held by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). It spent AUD4.01 million ($3.1 million) on five lots, the most expensive being 3.5MHz of 3.4GHz spectrum in Hobart for AUD1.5 million.
The 3.4GHz band (or C-band) is one of the few spectral bands on which the global telecoms industry is converging as it moves towards 5G, with strong support from governments around the world including China and Japan.
NBN co CEO Bill Morrow said previously it plans to participate in a 5G spectrum auction scheduled for later in the year.
ACMA announced in late October 2017 it would start to reallocate spectrum in the 3.6GHz band and move to more efficient arrangements in the 900MHz band to prepare for 5G broadband services.
Optus, the second largest mobile operator by connections in Australia, announced in February plans to roll out 5G technology with a FWA product in key metro areas by early 2019.