Canberrans among the first in Australia to test new Optus 5G network
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Canberrans among the first in Australia to test new Optus 5G network

A handful of Canberrans will be among the first people in Australia to trial Optus' new 5G Home Broadband network, which will be rolled out in a total of nine ACT suburbs by March 2020.

Optus Chief Executive Allen Lew unveiled two live 5G locations at Dickson and Manuka on Thursday. The only other live location in Australia is Glendenning in NSW.

"[5G] is a new mobile network that will offer unprecedented bandwidth, low latency, fast mobility and high capacity, which over the next few years will support a set of broad new applications for consumers and for enterprises," Mr Lew said.

"We are proud to be able to bring this to residences across Australia starting with two suburbs in Canberra, in Dickson and Manuka, and one in Glendenning in Sydney."

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The network will be made available to 50 people in the live locations who lodge an expression of interest in the coming weeks, with the expectation that applicants will have it installed by July.

At present, the network will only operate via household broadband, to which users can connect their mobile devices. Handsets with Optus 5G capabilities will be tested from about June onwards.

The network has a guaranteed speed of 50Mbps. Australia has an average 4G download connection speed of 33.76Mbps, according to OpenSignal.

Optus Chief Executive Allen Lew announces the details of the telco's new 5G network.

Optus Chief Executive Allen Lew announces the details of the telco's new 5G network.Credit:Jamila Toderas

Home Broadband packages will retail for $70 per month for unlimited data.

"Since it's a new technology we will be hand-holding the first 50 customers with professional installation and dedicated support ... but eventually all of the 5G home broadband customers will be able to get it from our stores and have it working immediately," Mr Lew said.

"I believe [manufacturers] are all busy developing their handsets … indications are that the first 5G devices will come out at the middle of this year."

Optus said they are in talks with overseas manufacturers about bringing 5G-enabled handsets to Australia for testing once the global 5G standard is finalised.

The technology for Optus' roll-out of the 5G Home Broadband network in Australia has been developed with Nokia, who are supplying the core Radio Access Network and Fastmile 5G devices, which are the wireless modems users will have in their homes.

Mr Lew said chinese telco Huawei has no involvement in the development of the 5G Broadband network, but Optus would continue using their devices on the 4G network.

In August last year, the federal government banned Chinese telcos including Huawei from providing 5G technology to Australia.

"What has been very clear is that for 5G, we cannot use Chinese manufacturers at all in our infrastructure, and we've certainly made sure that that’s the case," Mr Lew said.

"As far as other technologies, at this stage, only at the core [will we be] ripping out the Chinese vendors and not using Chinese. The rest of the radio equipment [for 4G] depend on the core, unlike 5G which has greater capability."

Mr Lew said the technology will be rolled out to 1200 locations by March 2020, including residential locations and other key hotspots surrounding airports, train stations, sports stadiums and CBD locations.

In October last year, Telstra unveiled several 5G network towers in the ACT. The telco's Chief Executive Andy Penn said yesterday that it is in "a good position" when it comes to the rollout of the superfast 5G technology.

Cassandra Morgan is a reporter at The Canberra Times. She was previously a breaking news reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald.

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