Home Telecoms & NBN Telstra and Ericsson conduct FIRST live 5G trial in Australia

Telstra and Ericsson conduct FIRST live 5G trial in Australia

The 5G momentum keeps accelerating, with Telstra and Ericsson partnering to test one of the world’s first — and Australia’s first — 5G radio test beds, in Melbourne.

With all the work being done on 5G around the world, you might think a test bed is where you try taking a nap, but not when you’re helping pioneer the eventual 5G standard that will revolutionise telecommunications as the world knows it today.

It was in Melbourne that Telstra and Ericsson, on 20 September, carried out the test to bring "the next generation of wireless technology one step closer to deployment".

So, what did the test demonstrate and achieve?

The trial demonstrated "5G capabilities in an outdoor 'real world' environment, and included speed demonstrations, beam steering tests and live video streaming".

Telstra chief technology officer Philip Jones noted that today’s demonstration "provided a glimpse into the future of what mobile performance will be like in the coming years" and said: “This is the first 5G trial on Australian soil, and the outdoor nature of the test has provided a true sense of what 5G will be able to offer customers once it is launched commercially.

“Telstra already has the strongest 4G service in Australia, and we’re excited to be working with Ericsson to see how we can use the additional capacity, higher speeds, and lower latency 5G offers to connect and empower Australians even more.”

Telstra’s Group managing director of Networks, Mike Wright, noted that "while previous generations of technology connected people to people and people to the internet, 5G will connect more machines than ever before, and fundamentally change the way our world works".

Wright said: “During the outdoor trial we saw total download speeds (to two mobiles) of greater than 20 Gbps, so there’s no doubt 5G is going to be a lot faster than today’s mobile networks, but it will also deliver a much lower latency.

“The test bed used 800 MHz of spectrum in a previously unattainable, high frequency band, which is 10 times more spectrum than we use with our 4G service.”

Telstra explained that "lower latency (the time it takes to send a signal from your mobile, to the network, and then receive it back again) in 5G will be crucial for supporting industrial applications and the Internet of Things (IoT). Early tests indicate latency in 5G will be significantly lower than what we see in 4G networks".

Wright added: “We know this lower latency will have a huge impact on future gaming and immersive experiences, virtual and augmented reality, and IoT. The results we have seen are extremely promising, particularly at this early stage of the technology.”

5G: Beam me up, or rather, beam it to me

Telstra also notes that an important technology in 5G is "beam steering technology", which directs a mobile signal straight to a device rather than sending it out in all directions or to a particular sector as it does today.

Wright explained: “Today’s event demonstrated the accuracy beam steering can achieve as a result of less interference and a higher quality signal, which will provide more capacity and ultimately a better network performance for our customers.”

Dr Magnus Ewerbring, chief technology officer at Ericsson Asia-Pacific, said: “Ericsson and Telstra have a long history of partnering for innovation, these early 5G trials will help drive the global standards that will ultimately cover 5G.

“Running trials with our 5G Radio Prototype in different environments across the globe provides important feedback on trial conclusions to our research teams. In addition to the Telstra 5G trials, Telstra engineers were embedded with our researchers in Sweden, providing direct input to our 5G research and product development.”

Both companies proudly note that "the demonstration today is a key milestone in the extension collaboration efforts between Telstra and Ericsson to ensure Australia is ready for 5G".

"While major deployment of 5G is not expected until 2020, work around standards, testing, and spectrum is ongoing and Telstra, in partnership with Ericsson, is at the forefront of these developments."

Plenty more information on Ericsson’s 5G journey is here

ERICSSON 5G

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.