5G CELL technology probably won’t deliver headline speeds to most of rural and remote Australia because it will need a dense network of towers to work.
This unfortunate truth is often overlooked as 5G is a term used for both high frequency bandwidth capable of delivering high speed data, as well a marketing term for advancing features in handsets and security protocols.
Telstra, general manager emerging technology strategy, Warren Jennings said Telstra had recently launched the first 5G cell in regional Australia at Toowoomba, Qld.
“We will be using that as a location where we can test and tune the network for the regional aspects of 5G,” he said.
5G work in higher frequencies and higher frequencies have lower range, so you need a much denser network
“5G looks quite different in regional environments then it does in urban environments.”
When questioned whether 5G required a denser network of towers to work in rural and regional Australia, Mr Jennings said 5G was a grouping term for an number of different technological features and upgrades, some of which required close tower proximity.
“5G is a whole collection of different features,” he said.
“If you are talking about the headline speeds of being able to deliver gigabits to individual handsets, then that is very much the case.
“Because those features in 5G work in higher frequencies and higher frequencies have lower range, so you need a much denser network.”
There are no immediate plans to turn off the 4G or the 3G network
Mr Jennings said there were other features, besides high speeds, which 5G would deliver more broadly, including enhance ability for the internet of things (IoT) and better security for customers.
“Typically it is Telstra in their with the standards bodies, really pushing for a lot of the solutions for regional customers,” he said.
“A lot of the places the standards are developed, like Korea and Europe, don’t have the same sort of environment we do, so those factors are often forgotten as they deal with much denser networks and much greater concentration of urban environments.”
Mr Jennings said Telstra asked the standards bodies to incorporate features Telstra felt suited the non-urban locations.
“We need to make sure there are features in the standards that support customers who need hundreds of kilometres of range and have lots of IoT devices and fewer of these nice glass fronted bricks playing Netflix,” he said.
”Place like Toowoomba mean we can do not only our own testing, but testing on behalf of the standards bodies we are a part of, so we can make sure 5G actually does address the needs of rural and regional environments.”
With a population of about 115,000 Toowoomba is ranked as the 16th largest city in Australia.
Mr Jennings said many of the features which make up 5G besides the headline speeds, would actually become available in the current network.
“Most of the features that will make up 5G will be progressively rolled out in new releases of LTE or 4G technology,” he said.
“5G, other then the headline speed that comes from new frequencies, is something of a marketing term.”
Mr Jennings said rural and remote areas could rest assured the 4G network and technology would remain in place and supported for some time.
“If you look at Telstras investment profile, the 2G network was around for 30 plus years, those are the sort of cycles that these things move on,” he said.
“There are no immediate plans to turn off the 4G or the 3G network, that will eventually happen as technology progresses, but it happens on a very slow cycle.”
5G top speed benefits
In a recent media release about the launch of 5G on Queensland’s Gold Coast, Telstra, chief operations officer, Robyn Denholm said the headline high speeds enabled by 5G had the potential to transform the way we all live and work.
“5G will take us from a world of connecting people to each other and the internet to a world of ultra-fast mobile speeds and the internet of things on a mass scale,” she said.
“These enhancements will unleash a host of new opportunities, everything from smart cities and smart homes, to drones and driverless cars, to augmented reality in both entertainment and at work.
“For example, drones can operate over 4G today but when the ultra-high reliability and incredibly low latency of 5G becomes available more sophisticated applications will be possible, such as drone swarms and autonomous drones that can communicate and adjust behaviour based on real-time data inputs.
“5G readiness is part of building Networks for the Future, a key pillar of the up to $3 billion in incremental investment we are making to transform the way we deliver services and bring new products to market.
“This investment will mean Telstra continues to deliver Australia’s largest and fastest mobile network.”
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