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Thursday, 14 January 2021 13:47

50% of Australians now covered by Telstra 5G in 'major rollout milestone' Featured

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With one in two Aussies now living in Telstra's 5G coverage footprint, Telstra says this progress shows it is on track to "expand coverage to 75% of the population by the middle of the year" as it adds thousands of 5G devices to its network every week.

5G is now a reality for one in two Australians with a 5G-capable smartphone on the Telstra network, which has impressively grown since the 41% mark was reached in early October 2020.

Telstra reminds us that "5G will make good on the promise of a truly connected entertainment experience, delivering speeds and network capacity previously only dreamed of", with the company predicting that "when 5G reaches its peak it could be 10x faster than the current 5G speeds enabling a download of a HD movie in around a second".

Telstra proudly boasts of more than 750,000 5G devices on the network, and of "adding thousands of new 5G devices every single week as more customers take up new devices". The company's network is "growing every week with 2,650 Telstra 5G sites on-air across the country, as well as coverage in more than 100 cities and towns and more than 2,000 suburbs across Australia with selected areas of Telstra 5G coverage".

At CES, Telstra notes it has "continued to see 5G front and centre in many of the presentations and product announcements covering phones, cars and smart cities with more to come as the event continues.

"Also from CES, our friends at Verizon laid out a vision of additional sporting stadiums and entertainment theatres with 5G for a more immersive spectator experience, they also plan to work with the Smithsonian and Metropolitan Museum of Art to create digital experiences using AR, digital scanning, and other technologies".

As Telstra announced in December 2020, it is "bringing 5G connectivity to sport with the recently announced new AFL deal which will see AFL-owned Marvel Stadium receive network and technology infrastructure upgrades including installing 5G connectivity, with the ambition of making it one of the world’s most advanced stadium and entertainment precincts.

"Telstra technology and connectivity will be deployed over the next few years including fixed and 4G/5G networks upgrades, AI, mixed reality and edge computing".

Telstra’s Network Technology Development & Solutions Executive, Channa Seneviratne, said the milestone marked "another huge step forward for the network roll out and showed Telstra was on track to hit its target to expand coverage to 75 per cent of the population by the middle of the year".

Seneviratne added: “Our customers have told us coverage is the most important thing when it comes to 5G so Telstra’s 5G roll out reaching more than half of the Australian population is a huge milestone.

“Bringing Telstra 5G coverage to more people means they can get more out of their 5G device and really experience what 5G has to offer.

“This isn’t any ordinary milestone, especially when you look back just a couple of years to see where we’ve come from and now to the huge 5G network construction project we’re getting on with.

“We’ve made great progress but there’s still more work to do, which is why we’ve set our teams aggressive roll out targets to bring Telstra 5G to 75% of the Australian population by the end of June this year.

“We’ve expanded Telstra’s 5G network coverage to even more areas of our big cities, regional centres and country towns and, with more to come, more Australians will be covered by Telstra 5G than anyone else.

“We now have Telstra 5G coverage in selected areas of more than 100 cities and towns, including major regional centres in every state including Sunshine Coast, Newcastle, Geelong, Mt Gambier, Launceston and Busselton so our customers can get Telstra 5G in more places,” Seneviratne concluded.

My take is that 5G upload speeds are still slow, with 4G upload speeds seemingly often faster, and 4G with good coverage can be almost as fast as 5G in many cases too, I've even seen cases where the 4G speeds were faster than 5G, but I do note Telstra stating above that "5G at its peak could be 10x faster", so faster speeds are always in the future. 

It also makes me wonder when we might see Telstra introduce 5GX as it did with 4GX, but we'll probably have to wait until sometime in 2022 or 2023 with Telstra's ultra-wideband 5G to become available and widespread in Australia first. 

Until then, I am happily enjoying seeing the 5G label on the various 5G capable smartphones I own, and am glad that after years of hype, 5G is finally here in more than places than ever before, and it's growing every week. 


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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