Optus to launch fixed 5G in January 2019

Optus has revealed that it will offer a 5G-based fixed wireless alternative to NBN in some areas from January 2019.

Optus has revealed that it will offer a 5G-based fixed wireless alternative to NBN in some areas from January 2019.

Optus CEO Allen Lew announced the plan at a press briefing to mark the opening of Optus’ public 5G demonstration centre at the Commonwealth Games site on the Gold Coast.

“In Australia we will have 5G available to people in the capital cities starting from January 2019,” he said.

“The first application will not be mobility because the standards for that will not be finalised until June 2018. But the standards for fixed wireless access using 5G to provide, for example, 100Mbps to a home. Those standards have been set.”

Optus had a range of 5G demonstrations including virtual reality, and immersive 360 degree video in the demonstration, which Lew said were all powered from a single, commercially available 5G router.

This he said, gave Optus the confidence that it would be able to offer a fixed 5G wireless service from January 2019.

“That router is available today. We still have to do more testing, but it is pretty robust and suitable for home use. For business we need to do some work on the security. We need to put a bit more protection into it.”

He added:  “I am very confident we will have  a device people will be proud to put into their homes.”

He declined to provide any information on pricing, saying it would be made available closer to launch, but would “reflect the quality and features of the service.”

A 5G router
A 5G router

As for 5G mobile services, Lew said device and infrastructure manufacturers alike were awaiting finalisation of the standards, due in June 2018. “After that you will see a flurry of announcements.

Lew declined to name any of the vendors who had supplied 5G equipment for the demonstration and said Optus was still working to finalise vendor selection for its commercial 5G network.

“We are working with multiple systems integrators and multiple infrastructure providers,” he said. “We have not finalised who the one infrastructure provider will be for when we launch the commercial service next year.”

5G to drive Optus transformation

Optus intends to use 5G to transition from being primarily a telco to becoming “a premium mobile-led provider of communication and entertainment services,” according to Andrew Sheridan - VP of regulatory and public affairs, speaking at the opening of Optus’ public 5G demonstration centre on the Gold Coast.

CEO Allen Lew said Optus’ ambition was “to make a real difference to the lives of consumers and businesses by using leading edge technologies to provide reliable high speed communications and to provide exciting content and a personalised customer experience.”

He said: “In the coming year you will see us lift competition to a new level as we seek to deliver on these three pillars. … As a next generation telco we cannot just be providing a connectivity service. We believe 5G allows us to do much more than that.”

The author travelled to the Gold Coast as a guest of Optus.

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