Optus has launched its fixed-wireless 5G Home Broadband network across two suburbs of Canberra and one tower in Sydney, announcing that 50 sites will be online by March to provide coverage to 60 suburbs.
Optus said it will have 1,200 5G mobile sites live by March 2020 across New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, South Australia, and Western Australia.
5G Home Broadband on Optus will cost AU$70 per month for unlimited data at a 50Mbps minimum speed guarantee.
The telco also revealed that its vendor partner for the initial 5G launch is Nokia, which has supplied its 5G RAN and Fastmile 5G customer premises equipment (CPE).
According to Optus CEO Allen Lew, however, the company will be taking a "multi-vendor approach" to its network.
"We will have more 5G sites going live across Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, and Sydney over the coming months, giving a select group of customers the chance to get their hands on our 5G Home Broadband devices in areas of selected suburbs," Lew said on Thursday at the launch of the network in Dickson, Canberra, calling it "an historic day".
"We will open the service up to more customers and more locations as more devices are released and our 5G cells continue to roll out."
Optus customers in select areas can take part in an expressions of interest campaign to become the telco's first 5G customers, which will give them connectivity in the second quarter of 2019.
Lew added that Optus is currently working with multiple smartphone manufacturers on developing 5G-compatible devices to enable a mobile 5G service.
As part of the rollout, Optus will be building new and upgrading existing mobile sites, as well as adding small cells to its network for densification, higher capacity, and increased speeds in inner-city areas.
The 5G network is already live in Dickson and Manuka, ACT, ahead of launching by March in Russell, Campbell, Weetangera, Mitchell, Franklin, Harrison, and Wanniassa.
In NSW, 22 sites will be live by March: Bidwell, Warwick Farm, St Johns Park, Bonnyrigg, Tascott, Niagara Park, Springfield, Yattalunga, Woy Woy Bay, Phegans Bay, Koolewong, Daleys Point, St Huberts Island, Richmond Lowlands, Shalvey, Lethbridge Park, Blackett, Emerton, Dharruk, Minchinbury, and Tregear, as well as Glendenning where it is already live.
By March, there will be 13 sites live in Queensland across Clayfield, Newmarket, Auchenflower, Kenmore, Kenmore Hills, Macgregor, Camira, Goodna, Brookwater, Bellbird Park, Gailes, Kallangur, and Burpengary.
There will also be 13 5G sites live in Western Australia: Mosman Park, City Beach, Kiara, Lockridge, Eden Hill, South Guildford, Bellevue, Midland, Orange Grove, White Gum Valley, Hilton, Henderson, and Wattleup.
Lastly, South Australia will see three sites go live by March in Trott Park, Reynella East, and Old Reynella.
The telco said it is targeting CBDs, residential areas, airports, train stations, and sports stadiums in its initial 1,200 sites.
The launch on Thursday comes after Optus said back in November that it would be launching 5G fixed-wireless services in Canberra and Brisbane in January 2019.
In December, Optus announced paying AU$185 million for 47 lots of 5G spectrum in the 3.6GHz band, after being excluded from buying metro spectrum due to its already significant holdings.
Optus' new 5G spectrum purchases were limited to seven lots each in North Queensland, Central Queensland, Regional Northern NSW/Southern Queensland, Regional Victoria, and Tasmania; and six lots each in Regional Southern/Western NSW and Regional South Australia.
Optus' road to 5G saw it begin switching on its 4.5G network almost two years ago, followed by the additions of Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (Massive MIMO) and three-cell carrier aggregation to 4G at the end of 2017.
Optus had in February last year announced that it will begin rolling out its 5G network across Australia in early 2019 in an aim to launch a fixed-wireless product in "key metro areas", following its first 5G trial with Huawei back in November 2016. Huawei was since banned by the federal government from involvement in the rollout of 5G networks across Australia.
Optus had also signed an MOU with Nokia back in 2016 to collaborate on developing a 5G network.
Disclosure: Corinne Reichert travelled as a guest of Optus to Canberra
5G, smart cities, and other top tech trends for 2019 (TechRepublic)
Quantitative futurist Amy Webb shares her predictions for 2019 tech trends.
Private LTE & 5G networks to surpass $5B annually by 2021 (TechRepublic)
Equipment vendors are pitching turn-key "network in a box" technology to governments and enterprises eager to deploy wide area networks in localities without existing adequate infrastructure.
The WA government is reviewing whether the US charges against Huawei will prevent the Chinese company from supplying equipment under a AU$136 million contract to construct and manage the data and voice digital radio systems for the state's Public Transport Authority.
Verizon took a big writeoff for Verizon Media, but said it added 1.2 million retail customers and has revamped to focus on 5G experiences.
Australian telco says the lack of a clear upgrade path to 5G will see it end its network rollout.