Telstra has established what it claims is the first precinct of 5G-enabled Wi-Fi hotspots in the world, with the network set to go live on 28 March in Queensland’s Gold Coast region.
The telco’s networks group managing director, Mike Wright, said Telstra is tapping into connectivity through its 5G Innovation Centre on the Gold Coast to power a series of Wi-Fi hotspots on Scarborough and Nerang Streets in the Gold Coast suburb of Southport, as well as a 5G-connected car.
As reported by sister publication, Computerworld, Telstra formally launched its 5G Innovation Centre on the Gold Coast in early February, using the site to house tests of technology based on the emerging next-generation wireless standard.
Given that Australia is yet to see the introduction of commercially-available 5G compatible smartphones and tablets, Telstra decided to connect standard Wi-Fi access points to its 5G backhaul and infrastructure in its Southport Exchange in a bid to give users a real-world experience of the technology – although the telco warns that actual speeds will vary.
Telstra said that Gold Coast locals and visitors to the area will be able use free broadband via the network while Telstra evaluates the 5G technology. The 5G hotspots will be available for anyone in the applicable areas to use, and are free with a download limit of 10GB per device per day.
“We have said we intend to lead on 5G and with these 5G-enabled Wi-Fi hotspots Australian consumers will be among the first people in the world to try the technology,” Wright said. “Taking 5G technology out of a lab and into the hands of consumers is another key milestone on Telstra’s roadmap to offering 5G services in 2019.”
Meanwhile, Telstra said it is actively using mmWave spectrum in conjunction with its 5G Innovation Centre as part of a connected car trial featuring the Intel 5G Automotive Trial Platform.
“Working with global technology companies, Ericsson and Intel, we have put Australia’s first 5G Connected Car on the road,” Wright said. “We are in the very early stages of development and are achieving download speeds approaching 1Gbps inside the car, and the vehicle is also equipped with a Wi-Fi access point.”