On the docket: Optus 5G network rollout set to begin in early 2019

In February 2017, Singtel subsidiary Optus launched its gigabit speed 4.5G network in Sydney’s north-west as a trial and, at completion, managed to clock up to 2Gbps download speeds using a Huawei device.

Fast forward a year ahead and Optus has announced that it plans to begin the rollout of the next generation of mobile connectivity in early 2019.

The news of Optus’ 5G network rollout comes after the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), a consortium of telecommunications standard development organisations, met in December 2017 in Lisbon, Portugal, to finalise the standardisation of 5G technologies.

“People have been hearing about 5G for some time, and there is pent up expectation, but to date a lot of the talk has been highly theoretical,” said Dennis Wong, networks managing director at Optus.

“Seeing 5G data speeds through our trial that are up to 15 times faster than current technologies allows us to show the potential of this transformative technology to support a new ecosystem of connected devices in the home, the office, the paddock and in the wider community. This is a technology and future we at Optus are extremely passionate about,” he added.

The need for speed

The telco began developing its 5G technology in 2016, and although it’s still a work in progress, Optus has partnered with the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games to allow visitors to preview what the fifth generation of mobile connectivity has to offer.

Optus has also added that it has “secured a variety of new metropolitan licences for its customers in the 2300 MHz and 3500 MHz spectrum bands during recent Spectrum Auctions,” thus strengthening its spectrum holdings.

Optus, however, has not revealed any specific dates or locations for the commencement of the rollout, except to say it will be made available in “key metro areas”. There is no word on what it would cost the end user either.

At present, there are no mobile devices – tablets or smartphones – that are 5G-enabled, so there is a possibility that the telco might offer home broadband plans running on its 5G network at launch. However, it's best to wait till these plans get implemented in 2019 to see how things fall into place.

Sharmishta Sarkar
Managing Editor (APAC)

Sharmishta is TechRadar's APAC Managing Editor and loves all things photography, something she discovered while chasing monkeys in the wilds of India (she studied to be a primatologist but has since left monkey business behind). While she's happiest with a camera in her hand, she's also an avid reader and has become a passionate proponent of ereaders, having appeared on Singaporean radio to talk about the convenience of these underrated devices. When she's not testing camera kits or the latest in e-paper tablets, she's discovering the joys and foibles of smart home gizmos. She's also the Australian Managing Editor of Digital Camera World and, if that wasn't enough, she contributes to T3 and Tom's Guide, while also working on two of Future's photography print magazines Down Under.