Australia will launch its first 5G service in 2019, with wireless carrier Optus pledging to start the rollout of the next generation of connectivity early next year. The Sydney-based telecom giant is planning to prioritize “key metro areas” with its upcoming offering that will be delivered in the form of a 5G fixed wireless access solution. The company said its previous trials suggested its customers can expect speeds that are up to 15 times faster than what the current infrastructure allows, noting that its most recent 5G New Radio test reached 2Gbps peak download speeds through an experimental FWA device.
5G FWA is essentially a broadband alternative that would replace traditional wired modems with fully wireless ones, effectively allowing for all-in-one routers that don’t just create Wi-Fi networks between local devices but also connect them to the Internet as directly as smartphones communicate with the World Wide Web. As such, the technology isn’t a “true” mobile service since it’s still limited to a physical location with required equipment but many telecom companies are describing it as the first step toward fully wireless 5G. Optus is one of them, claiming its 5G FWA service will provide its customers with palpable effects of the wireless revolution that the industry has been touting for years now. The firm called the upcoming launch of the network “a historical [sic] milestone” and one that will eventually lead to entirely mobile 5G. The fixed wireless service set to be deployed in early 2019 will likely utilize both millimeter-wave and C-band spectrum, as suggested by the company’s recent trials. Optus already started rolling out certain 4.5G technologies over the course of 2017 and is expected to continue doing so going forward, propelled by the fact that the 3GPP recently finalized its first comprehensive 5G NR standard — Release 15 —in Lisbon, Portugal.
5G FWA hasn’t been actively pursued by all wireless carriers in the United States, though Verizon is seeking to deploy one such solution in partnership with Samsung in the second half of the year. All four national carriers in the U.S. are planning to commence mobile 5G rollouts next year and should offer nationwide coverage by 2020.