Telstra turned on 5G-enabled Wi-Fi hotspots on two streets in Gold Coast to give users in the city a taste of 5G as it evaluates the next-generation mobile technology.
In a move the operator said is a world first, people in the areas covered are being offered free internet access up to a maximum daily download limit of 10GB per device. Mike Wright, Telstra’s MD Networks, said it is using the connectivity from its recently opened 5G Innovation Centre to power a series of Wi-Fi hotspots as well as Australia’s first 5G connected car.
“We have said we intend to lead on 5G, and with these 5G-enabled Wi-Fi hotspots Australian consumers will be among the first people in the world to try the technology,” Wright said.
“Taking 5G technology out of a lab and into the hands of consumers is another key milestone on Telstra’s roadmap to offering 5G services in 2019.”
Although there are currently no 5G-compatible smartphones or tablets available commercially, Telstra explained in a statement that connecting 5G backhaul and infrastructure in its exchange to a standard Wi-Fi access point enables people to experience the technology on their existing devices.
Wright explained limits on Wi-Fi throughput means a single hotspot cannot come close to reaching the limits of 5G at its Innovation Centre: “By using multiple hotspots with potentially hundreds of smartphone users served through a single 5G device we are able to get closer to demonstrating 5G in a real world environment,” he explained.
“Our 5G backhaul is capable of delivering download speeds of more than 3Gb/s, which is capable of supporting around 1,000 HD movies being streamed simultaneously.”
Telstra is also using mmWave spectrum to put a connected car on the road with the Intel 5G Automotive Trial Platform. The operator said it is achieving download speeds approaching 1Gb/s inside the car, which is also equipped with a Wi-Fi access point.