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Telstra will offer free 5G Wi-Fi on the Gold Coast

Posted: 27 March 2018 8:00 pm

Grab 10GB of free Wi-Fi data while helping Telstra test its next-generation network.

Telstra is, strictly speaking, not a Commonwealth Games sponsor, but it has certainly been making noise around its plans to test 5G services on the Gold Coast while the Commonwealth Games are on, having announced that it would do so more than 12 months ago, ahead of its upcoming full launch of 5G services in 2019.

While the telco has its share of 5G testing equipment on the Gold Coast that it's keeping in-house, part of what it wants to assess in 5G terms is how it deals with crowds.

The underlying design of 5G networks should allow for considerably more devices served with data at higher rates than on existing 4G networks, and to test that, Telstra will make Wi-Fi networks running on its 5G network available for the public to use, free of charge, on Scarborough and Nerang Streets in Southport.

The use of Wi-Fi is deliberate because it's not as though you can rush out and buy a 5G-capable handset just yet. Individual users will be limited to a maximum of 10GB per day, but Telstra reckons its existing 5G network can manage some pretty impressive speeds, so that 10GB might not last you that long.

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

The benefit for Telstra, aside from simple advertising, is in testing the limitations of its 5G infrastructure with hundreds of concurrent connections.

"Wi-Fi has limited throughput so a single hotspot alone cannot come close to reaching the limits of 5G at our Innovation Centre. By using multiple hotspots with potentially hundreds of smartphone users served through a single 5G device we are able to get closer to demonstrating 5G in a real world environment," Wright said.

Telstra will also be trialling a "5G Car", using Intel's 5G Automotive Trial Platform to assess real-world, truly mobile connectivity using the mmWave spectrum.

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

"At the start of the year our 5G prototype device was the size of a bar fridge and weighed more than 200 kilograms. Now, in collaboration with Intel and Ericsson, we have one that has been shrunk down to the size of a personal computer and can be installed in a car."

You won't personally be able to go for a spin in Telstra's 5G car, but the free Wi-Fi network will go live from tomorrow, 28 March 2018.

Telstra representatives told finder that there wasn't a fixed end date for when they will switch off the free Wi-Fi network. They stated they had plans to assess how it goes "over the coming period".

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