Telstra flicks on a tiny piece of 5G in Melbourne and Sydney

Sydney and Melbourne have very small patches of 5G available, with Telstra getting early access to 3.6GHz spectrum.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

If you manage to have a 5G handset sent to you from the future, you can enjoy Telstra 5G coverage at a number of very select sites in Melbourne and Sydney -- at Telstra's Customer Insight Centre on George St in Sydney, at Telstra Labs on Exhibition St in Melbourne, and at both major cities' airports.

Australia's incumbent telco said it is able to do this thanks to early access to 3.6GHz spectrum picked up in the recent 5G spectrum auction.

The telco said it now has made 187 5G upgrades around the nation, with 5G coverage already in Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, Launceston, Toowoomba, and the Gold Coast.

On the basis of its tiny 5G footprint in Sydney and Melbourne, Telstra CEO Andy Penn claimed the telco was the first in Australia to have coverage in all major Australian cities; presumably, the telco does not believe the likes of Newcastle, Darwin, Wollongong, and Geelong to be major cities.

"This is a crucial component of our plans to bring 5G services to as many of our customers as possible once 5G compatible devices are commercially available next year, and another significant milestone in expanding its 5G coverage to capital cities, regional centres, and other high demand areas," Penn said in a statement. 

"This series of network upgrades is not only making Telstra's mobile network 5G ready but is also expected to help deliver world leading 4G speeds."

"Over the coming months Telstra will continue expanding its 5G coverage with plans to roll out the technology and grow coverage to more cities, regional centres and high traffic areas."

In the 5G auction, Telstra paid AU$386 million for 143 lots, made up of 12 each in Sydney and Melbourne; seven in Adelaide; six each in Brisbane, Canberra, and Perth; 10 each in northern Queensland, central Queensland, northern NSW, southern Queensland, Tasmania, and regional Victoria; as well as 15 in regional South Australia; and 16 in regional Western Australia.

The telco now claims to have between 60Mhz of contiguous 5G spectrum in all "major capital cities", and between 50 and 80Mhz of contiguous spectrum in regional areas.

At the start of the month, Telstra announced the impending release of an HTC 5G smart hub, and also unveiled a prototype 5G smartphone it is using to test its 5G network.

Last week, the telco said it had signed up its first enterprise 5G customer, which will use its early launch network in Toowoomba.

FKG Group, a construction and civil engineering company which opened a Tier III datacentre in the region earlier this year, will test the 5G smart hub's features and connectivity.

Executive chair of FKG Group Gary Gardner said his company would use the 5G network and device at its Aatlis Innovation Precinct to test Internet of Things (IoT) opportunities across agriculture and the "food value chain", including logistics and transport use cases.

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