Telstra smart cities the focus of next 5G launch

Telstra will activate its 5G mobile network across another regional centre next as part of a focus on smart cities, with the telco also revealing a 5G partnership with the Commonwealth Bank on 'mobile banking of the future'.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor
(Image: Corinne Reichert/ZDNet)

Telstra's next 5G launch will be based around smart cities, Telstra ED of Network and Infrastructure Engineering Channa Seneviratne has revealed, with the telco choosing each of its 200 initial launch sites for showcasing different use cases.

"We will launch another regional centre which I can't name yet where we're going to do smart cities," Seneviratne told media during Telstra Vantage 2018 in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Seneviratne said the 5G launch in Toowoomba was based on a partnership with FKG Group, which had opened a Tier III datacentre in the region earlier this year, and on enabling agricultural technology applications.

"Within 100km of Toowoomba, you've got every single different type of agriculture ... Toowoomba is becoming a centre where there's advanced agri-tech being developed," he said.

"They're creating an advanced industrial precinct for high-tech agri-tech, so for us to provide them with 5G coverage is a really important thing to enable this next wave of industrial development."

Penn last week told ZDNet that Telstra already has its 5G network live across 15 towers -- 13 in the Gold Coast, one in Toowoomba, and one in Brisbane, with 200 to go live by the end of 2018.

"We've got a very clear plan and roadmap in progress for where that deployment is going to happen, and we've got all of our partners lined up to support that rollout," Penn told ZDNet.

"We need the handset and the device manufacturers to start building equipment at scale now. Initially by having the 5G network ready, what that enables us to do is to trial and test the early versions of the handsets and dongles and mobile hotspots and tablets, and the manufacturers come through and test them outside of the lab environment and in a commercial environment."

During her keynote at Vantage on Wednesday, meanwhile, current COO and incoming CFO Robyn Denholm also revealed that the telco is partnering with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia on 5G.

"It's not just the industrial sector that are using these types of technologies; we're also working with customers across the board in other areas, and financial technology is one of those, and financial services," Denholm said.

"If you look at what we're doing with Commonwealth Bank today ... we're actually working with them today on what 5G can enable in their mobile banking of the future."

Penn added on Wednesday that Telstra is "absolutely leading the world in 5G", and has "always punched above its weight" on the international stage.

According to Penn, Telstra has a very good relationship with US carrier Verizon and its CEO Hans Vestberg, telling ZDNet that Telstra is looking to offer similar fixed-wireless products as Verizon 5G Home, which was announced last week at Mobile World Congress Americas (MWCA) in Los Angeles.

"We already provide a fixed-wireless option for customers that want to have a fixed-wireless option," Penn told ZDNet.

"We currently with 4G customers have a home service, they can use it at home as well ... there will be those offerings under 5G.

"Fixed-wireless will be an option for us, it will be a use case in the future, but our 5G strategies are much broader than that."

Disclosure: Corinne Reichert travelled to Telstra Vantage 2018 in Melbourne as a guest of Telstra

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