Optus gives Aussies public 5G preview

Optus showcases 5G technology

For the next 10 days the Australian public will have its first chance to experience some of the features of 5G: Optus has opened a public 5G demonstration centre in Kurrawa Park at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast that will be run for the duration of the Commonwealth Games.

Opening the centre, Optus CEO Allen Lew said the exhibits had been designed to show consumers and businesses some real world applications of the low latency and high bandwidth that will be key features of 5G.

“We believe once people are exposed to these real world capabilities they will use their imagination to come up with new services,” he said. “We also believe Australia is in a unique position to have leadership in this new generation of technology.”

Earlier this year Telstra launched its '5G Innovation Centre' on the Gold Coast.

Lew announced that Optus would launch a fixed wireless 5G service in January 2019 and said he hoped Optus’ public demonstrations of 5G’s capabilities would “allow us to learn from consumers as they interact with these new technologies so we can better come up with the new services that we will start to deliver in nine months time.”

The managing director of Optus Networks, Dennis Wong, said Optus had been upgrading its backhaul network from 10Gbps to 100Gbps for the last several years to prepare it for the bandwidth demands of 5G.

Lew also said he hoped also that the demonstration would attract “young entrepreneurs to partner with us and experience the world of 5G.”

He suggested the applications that emerge for 5G will “depend on the imagination of the device manufacturers and of all the young developers and entrepreneurs who will experience the low latency we will have on show here, to hopefully come up with something we have never seen before.”

In the centre Optus demonstrated:

-  a robotic arm that could play ‘rock-paper-scissors’ responding instantly to the hand movements of the human player;

- a robotic arm able to mimic movements of a human arm so that it could be directed to pick up balls;

- virtual reality soccer in which the goal keeper sees the kicker, the ball and their own hands only through VR goggles but is able to catch a ball kicked at the goal;

- VR cycling in which two cyclists on fixed bikes race each other around a virtual velodrome

- VR driving where the driver controls a model car around a model of the Gold Coast using a VR headset;

- a 360 degree dome into which Optus will present high-definition coverage of Games events.

Lew said all the services in the demonstration were being run through a single 5G wireless router that would be offered to support Optus’ commercial fixed 5G service in 2019.

“That router is available today. Everything you see here is driven off  it,” he said.

“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.”

Outside Optus also had a 5G base station mounted on a pole alongside its 4G base station set up for Commonwealth Games coverage and used this to demonstrate streaming of 8K video to a Van driving around the area.

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

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