'World's first' 5G public trial switched on in Australia

Telstra, Australia’s largest telco, has today announced that it has switched on the world’s first 5G-enabled Wi-Fi hotspots on Queensland’s Gold Coast, just ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The trial next-gen Wi-Fi hotspots will be free to use and are located in the suburb of Southport, making it the first 5G-enabled precinct in the world. 

The connectivity is provided through Telstra’s newly set up 5G Innovation Centre located on the Gold Coast, which houses the tech for the next generation of wireless standard.

The need for speed

As there are no commercially-available 5G devices yet on sale (phones, tablets or otherwise), Telstra’s installed a number of 5G-enabled Wi-Fi hotspots in order to more broadly trial its new infrastructure. The hotspots connect to the telco’s cellular network via 5G and will then allow any Wi-Fi enabled device to access the speeds promised by the new cellular standard.

“Our 5G backhaul is capable of delivering download speeds of more than 3Gbps, which is capable of supporting around 1,000 HD movies being streamed simultaneously,” said Telstra’s Managing Director of Networks, Mike Wright.

Visitors and locals attending the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast will be able to enjoy free broadband during event, helping Telstra trial its new 5G tech.

However, Telstra warns that speeds will vary across hotspots due to various factors like the type of devices used, distance from the access point and number of people connected to a single hotspot.

Zooming around on 5G speeds

The need for speed doesn’t stop at mobile use – Telstra is also putting a 5G-enabled connected car on the streets of the Gold Coast as well. The car uses Intel’s 5G Automotive Trial Platform, a prototype device already available.

“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 1Gbps inside the car and the vehicle is also equipped with a Wi-Fi access point," Wright announced.

The spread of 5G

While Telstra has already flipped the trial switch on in Australia, American carries AT&T and Verizon have also been preparing their own 5G rollouts.

Both carriers plan to release portable 5G-enabled hotspots this year, so Americans who want access to the technology’s higher speeds won’t have to wait for the arrival of mobile devices that can support the faster standard.

AT&T is set to trial 5G connectivity to 12 US cities, while Verizon has partnered with Samsung to start trials in Sacramento, California, later this year.

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.