Wednesday, 28 March 2018 00:49

Gold Coast gets Telstra ‘world first’ 5G Wi-Fi precinct Featured

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Telstra is claiming a world-first with the switching on of a precinct of 5G-enabled WiFi hotspots on Australia’s Gold Coast, allowing locals free broadband during evaluation of the technology.

The Gold Coast will stage the 2018 Commonwealth Games in April, and Telstra says it is using the connectivity via its recently opened 5G Innovation Centre in the city to power a series of Wi-Fi hotspots on Scarborough and Nerang Streets in Southport as well as a 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,” said Telstra’s Group managing director Networks, Mike Wright.

“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.”

There are no 5G-compatible commercial smartphones or tablets available today but Telstra says that by connecting 5G backhaul and infrastructure in the Southport Exchange, to a standard Wi-Fi access point, people can use the technology on their existing device.

According to Wright, using Wi-Fi access as part of Telstra’s 5G technical program is an innovative way to show the benefits of 5G capability in real world conditions, with the 5G hotspots open to anyone in the area and free, with a download limit of 10 GB per day per device. 

“Wi-Fi has limited throughput so a single hotspot alone cannot come close to reaching the limits of 5G at our 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,” Wright said. 

“Our 5G backhaul is capable of delivering download speeds of more than 3 Gbps, which is capable of supporting around 1,000 HD movies being streamed simultaneously.”

Telstra is also using mmWave spectrum and its 5G Innovation Centre to put a Connected Car on the road with the Intel 5G Automotive Trial Platform, promoted as one of the most advanced 5G prototype devices available in the world today. 

“Working with global technology companies Ericsson and Intel, we have put Australia’s first 5G Connected Car on the road. We are in the very early stages of development and are achieving download speeds approaching 1 Gbps inside the car and the vehicle is also equipped with a Wi-Fi access point,” Wright said. 

“This shows how quickly the technology is evolving.  At the start of the year our 5G prototype device was the size of a bar fridge and weighed more than 200 kilograms.  Now, in collaboration with Intel and Ericsson, we have one that has been shrunk down to the size of a personal computer and can be installed in a car.”

Telstra says the Connected Car will help it to start getting real results on mobile performance over mmWave and ensure 5G network readiness.

“These advances are part of a series of 5G related activities that Telstra, Ericsson, Intel and other technology companies will undertake on the Gold Coast in 2018,” Wright said.

The telco has positioned its 5G Innovation Centre as central to a $60 million investment it has made to upgrade infrastructure on the Gold Coast to support what it says is growing demand and major events in the area. 

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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