Optus readies 5G network tests for 2017
In partnership with Nokia, Optus has already tested virtual reality content across mobile networks.
Optus has confirmed its plans for developing higher-speed 5G networks, signing a memorandum of understanding with Nokia to start running 5G trials in early 2017.
The trials will use 3500Mhz spectrum already owned by Optus. The telco has already conducted closed tests in its North Sydney headquarters using Nokia gear to deliver virtual reality (VR) video content. Optus says a future test will involve a "major sporting event", which is welcome news to anyone who has ever tried to get signal at a stadium.
5G is the next step after 4G, which is now the dominant mobile network technology in Australia. While 5G networks promise faster download speeds, much of the work in developing 5G is aimed at ensuring that higher speeds are available to more people simultaneously. Improving latency is also a key concern, which is important when mobile networks are used to send sensor data from buildings, robots, appliances and other electronics.
Every Australian telecommunications network is now actively exploring 5G options. Telstra has been working with Ericsson and plans a major trial for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. Vodafone is also working on 5G trials. 5G is expected to be broadly available by 2020.
At the same time, older 2G networks are in their death throes. Last week Vodafone confirmed plans to switch off its 2G network in September next year; Telstra's will be switched off in December this year, with Optus following in April.