The next ‘wave’ of 5G is coming to Telstra with planning underway to allow customers early trial access to millimetre wave (mmWave) 5G spectrum and the launch of Australia’s first mmWave 5G-enabled device by mid-year.

Telstra CEO Andrew Penn said internal testing of the technology had begun and work was underway to roll out trial mobile sites in selected areas ahead of an expected auction of mmWave spectrum in 2021.

“mmWave will supercharge 5G. Its higher capacity and the potential to deliver even faster speeds as well as lower latency will help power the next generation of devices and innovations,” Mr Penn said.

“Putting its power and opportunities into the hands of our customers early will put them at the forefront of this revolutionary technology.”

mmWave is higher frequency spectrum with the potential to deliver even higher 5G speeds and capacity as well low latency. 26 GHz will be the first mmWave band to be used for mobile services in Australia.

Telstra customers’ early access to the next-gen 5G technology will be in selected areas initially. It will be made possible through ACMA 26 GHz scientific licenses that can be used for trials ahead of the spectrum auction early next year.

“Not only will customers be able to enjoy trying out the benefits of mmWave in selected areas early, it means we will be on the front foot when spectrum is made available via the auction in 2021,” Mr Penn said.

More details on the first mmWave locations will be announced in the coming months.

The first Telstra branded 5G-enabled device and Australia’s first mmWave-enabled device, the Telstra 5G Wi-Fi Pro, will launch to coincide with the early mmWave rollout.

Fast and portable, further details on the Telstra 5G Wi-Fi Pro will be announced closer to launch.

Leading in 5G

Australia is already a global leader in mmWave, with Telstra and technology partners Ericson and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc, a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, recently testing the world’s first live mobile base station in a commercial network using the 26GHz band.

26GHz is set to become one of the most prevalent spectrum bands for mmWave 5G in the world, including Europe and Asia, so live testing on a commercial network is an important step towards delivering this technology to the world.

Head of Ericsson Australia and New Zealand Emilio Romeo said, “This announcement is an important step in realising the benefits of mmWave spectrum for Australia and the world. With 5G live demonstrations on the 26GHz band now underway, this is a significant step in showcasing how mmWave can be scaled and integrated into a commercial mobile network.

“Ericsson is pleased to be working with Telstra and Qualcomm Technologies to drive industry leadership through ongoing innovation and collaboration, and importantly helping Telstra to ensure Australians are among the first customers in the world to experience this technology.”

Qualcomm Technologies, Inc senior vice president and general manager, 4G/5G Durga Malladi said,

“With the fully integrated modem-to-antenna Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X55 5G Modem-RF System, we continue to enable the industry to utilise the benefits of 5G mmWave technology by delivering peak multi-gigabit data speeds and capacity.”

“This collaboration and milestone is an important step towards accelerating deployment of 5G NR mmWave technology in Australia and across the globe.

Expanding 5G coverage

As the first Australian telco to introduce 5G, Telstra has now rolled out coverage to selected areas in 32 major and regional cities and remains on track to deliver 5G into 35 cities by mid-year.

“More than 4 million people now pass through our 5G footprint and can access it’s benefits on any given day. We will continue to work to deliver world-leading connectivity for our customers,” Mr Penn said.

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