Telstra today connected a customer with a commercial 5G device on its 5G network for the first time, in another important step in Australia’s 5G roadmap.
The first customer using a 5G device is Toowoomba-based FKG Group, a commercial construction and civil engineering company with divisions focused on technology innovation, including data centres, with 800 employees across Australia.
FKG will use the first iteration of the HTC 5G Hub mobile broadband device to test the device’s connectivity to the network, which as the device evolves, will allow exploration of transport, logistics and agribusiness use cases.
While Telstra’s network is 5G ready in parts of Toowoomba, the user experience benefits of 5G are not expected to become available until the first half of 2019.
The initial focus of understanding the customer experience will be on familiarisation and testing of the device’s features and connectivity, as well as an analysis of the improvements to Telstra’s 4G service as sites are upgraded to 5G.
Telstra’s CEO Andrew Penn said getting 5G devices into customers’ hands early was an important part of Telstra’s 5G development, with use in real world environments crucial to ensuring Australians were among the first in the world to have access to 5G devices.
“This launch is a vital first step toward enabling a 5G experience with a customer, bringing together a first generation device with Telstra’s 5G network using the 3Gpp standards for the first time,” Mr Penn said.
“We expect a range of devices to become commercially available in the first half of 2019 and as soon as they are launched at scale, we will begin to offer them to customers,” Mr Penn said.
“Telstra is at the forefront of 5G in Australia, with a string of world and Australian 5G firsts and launches over the last 12 months. We are now at a critical point in time where we can start bringing together our 5G ready network and 5G commercial devices with our customers.
“We’re pleased to be working closely with FKG Industries in these early stages to see what the device can do for our enterprise customers.
“Early familiarisation of the technology with our customers is crucial to understand the opportunities that will open up as 5G becomes available more broadly, and we will be adding additional customers as the trial progresses.”
Gary Gardner, Executive Chairman of FKG Group welcomed being Telstra’s first 5G customer. “It’s fantastic to working with Telstra and having the opportunity to test one of the first 5G devices in the country. Being at the forefront of this advanced technology will greatly assist FKG and its newly developed Aatlis Innovation Precinct to explore IoT use cases and pilot innovative solutions in the agriculture and food value chain.”
In August, Telstra announced it had started switching on 5G technology, making Australia’s largest and fastest* mobile network the first in the country to be 5G ready. Toowoomba was the first regional centre to be upgraded and there are now 22 5G-enabled sites in the area, where FKG is located.
Across the country, 130 sites have now been 5G-enabled, with another 70 to be upgraded before the end of this calendar year. This series of network upgrades will not only make the Telstra Mobile Network 5G ready but is expected to deliver world leading 4G (LTE) speeds.
*All references to Australia’s fastest network are based on national average combined 3G/4G mobile speeds.