Federal Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has announced Telstra will be expanding the amount of coverage available on its 5G network across Greater Brisbane in the next few months, following widespread coverage of the technology in the country’s largest city, Sydney. The announcement came as Telstra announced that it had sold or donated $1.4 billion worth of services to NBN, all contributing to the budget deficit of the Australian government.
What is 5G, and what does it mean for Australia?
In short, 5G is a version of 4G that uses the current frequency band that has long been exploited for data transmission (as a result of some technological shortcomings such as inadequate transmission of signals through the air and failure to cover the entire spectrum).
Up until the recent announcement, 5G was aimed largely at providing operators with a range of options: for the time being, it is still being tested primarily for use in drones, as well as for traffic management, and for 5G-powered home and office broadband connections.
In Australia, next-generation mobile technology has been designated as 5G, but the standard has been inconsistent and has now been ditched. Current 3G/4G networks continue to function for the time being, but at speeds in the ranges of around a few hundred megabits per second, not the 20–100 Mbps advertised by their carriers. The 5G network that 5G proponents now want to achieve is seen as capable of speeds of around 10–100 Mbps, or more than the current levels of widely used wireless broadband connections.
In terms of coverage, 5G coverage is in its early stages across Australia, and efforts are still being made to expand coverage, including the formation of some unofficial 5G-powered testing grounds. In light of that, the government’s recent announcement on the expansion of coverage in some parts of Brisbane is welcome.