Vodafone has joined the 5G party in Australia, with the company clocking speeds of 5Gbps over 200 MHz of spectrum in its first local live public trial of the technology.
The trial was conducted in partnership with the telco’s 5G technology partner, Nokia, at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) on October 12, and involved robots, virtual reality, and the entire season of Game of Thrones.
The methodology used to determine the 5Gbps download speed in the trial included the download of a full, 50GB season of the hit television show in full high-definition. According to Vodafone Australia, a full season could be downloaded in HD in around 10 seconds at 5Gbps.
The tests also tested latency, with the UTS trial rated at 3 ms, according to Vodafone. Meanwhile, a virtual reality test managed the transmission of eight simultaneous streams of VR content, clocking a throughput of up to 1.5Gbps, with a full speed of 4.5Gbps over the system.
Vodafone’s 5G trial comes as the company is seeing compounding annual data growth rates of around 40 per cent, which are expected to “skyrocket,” according to Vodafone chief technology officer, Kevin Millroy.
“While our 4G network is better than ever, and is continually improving, at these growth rates, the industry is searching for a solution to support higher volumes of data traffic,” Millroy said.
“5G will enable our customers to use more data in more ways, at faster speeds than ever before,” he said.
It’s appropriate that Vodafone tested the data speeds of its 5G technology by downloading a television show. Australia’s telcos are finding an increasing proportion of their bandwidth gobbled up by video download and streaming services on mobile devices.
This trend was typified by one Telstra customer when he burned through almost a terabyte of mobile data when the telco offered its second day of free data in compensation to customers after a series of network outages.
According to Millroy, Vodafone is gearing up to handle the increasing demand, with the company having already migrated 550 sites to its fibre transmission network in preparation for 5G deployment in Australia.
Despite the public demonstration, Vodafone is by no means the first Australian telecommunications provider to have embarked on the 5G journey, with Australia’s two largest telcos, Telstra and Optus, having already conducted trials to test the technology.
In early October, Optus announced it had signed an agreement with Nokia to collaborate on network evolution to 5G, with the two companies conducting initial closed tests in Sydney. Optus and Nokia also plan to undertake an early 5G prototype in Optus’ band in Australia by next year.
“As we look ahead, Optus will explore new network architectures and use case trials with a specific 5G focus,” said Tay Soo Meng, group chief technology officer of Optus’ parent company, Singtel, at the time.
“We are also preparing the network across transport and core networks, through virtualised network functions and cloud infrastructure,” he said.
On 20 September, Telstra and Ericsson tested what the telco claims is one of the world’s first 5G radio test beds in Melbourne, using 800MHz of spectrum, equating to around 10 times more spectrum that the company uses for its 4G service. Those tests revealed speeds to two mobile devices of more than 20Gbps.