The current state of 5G in Australia
Mobile operators in Australia have been accelerating 5G deployments in 2020 and are waiting for additional spectrum that local regulator ACMA plans to award next year to further expand 5G networks. The main cities across the country are already covered by 5G. Here we briefly describe 5G deployments and future 5G plans announced by Australian carriers.
Australian carrier Telstra already deployed over 2,000 5G base stations in the country, providing 5G coverage to 41% of Australia’s population.
The recently said that it aims to cover 75% of the country’s population with its 5G service by June 2021.
In the past few months, Telstra deployed its 5G technology in the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, along with parts of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
The telco had also announced that there are more than 60 cities and towns across the country where Telstra’s 5G roll out is currently underway.
Telstra, which had launched 5G in May last year, is currently using its spectrum in the 3.6 GHz band to provide 5G technology across Australia. Some of the cities in which Telstra offers its 5G service are Canberra, Central Coast, Brisbane, Sidney, Cairns, Gold Coast, Adelaide, Hamilton, Melbourne and Perth.
Telstra had also upgraded its 5G radio access network (RAN) coverage footprint across Australia, connecting a cloud-native 5G Core (5GC) network to handle new 5G standalone traffic. Telstra used equipment from Swedish vendor Ericsson for the network upgrade.
The 5G upgrade means that Telstra already has the capability to run 5G technology independent of existing 4G network technology. The telco claimed that its mobile network is now end-to-end enabled for 5G Standalone.
Meanwhile, rival operator Optus, controlled by Singapore telecommunications group Singtel, said that its 5G network currently operates more than 900 5G sites and is available to over 426,000 households across Australia.
Some of the cities where the telco currently provides 5G coverage include Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaida, Gold Coast and Perth.
In July, Optus announced it was testing 5G mmWave technology in partnership with Ericsson.
Optus noted that mmWave technology will enable higher speed and reduced latency for its customers, especially in highly dense areas with large demand for the Optus mobile network.
Optus has approval from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to operate and test mmWave technology using the 26 GHz band at four locations in Sydney, including its Macquarie Park headquarters.
In January, Optus successfully implemented spectrum sharing technology from Ericsson to made an end-to-end 5G video test call while simultaneously streaming video content on a 4G device. The Optus network was able to assign spectrum resources on both 4G and 5G switching between them in milliseconds to support the different service video demands from both users, Optus said. Dynamic Spectrum Sharing is a technology that allows an operator use the same spectrum at the same time for LTE and 5G, with the network base stations controlling the allocation of spectrum.
Meanwhile, TPG Telecom previously announced plans to accelerate its 5G rollout over the next months, with over 85% of the population in the country’s six largest cities expected to be served by the end of 2021.
The company, which was formed through the merger of TPG and Vodafone Hutchison Australia earlier this year, previously said that more than 1,200 sites 5G sites had entered the planning phase.
TPG Telecom said the six cities where 5G will be initially available are Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra.
TPG Telecom had selected Nokia as its 5G equipment vendor last year and that the deployment of the 5G network began in March 2020.