NBN will this week begin its first tests of 5G wireless technology.
The company will stage trials of the new wireless standard in Melbourne in collaboration with networking vendor Ericsson.
The tests will utilise 100MHz of bandwidth in the company’s 3.5GHz spectrum holdings, NBN’s chief technology officer, Ray Owen, announced this morning at the CommsDay Summit in Sydney.
NBN operates more than 2500 wireless sites for its LTE-based fixed wireless service.
“We really want to use these tests to find out more about the technology and how it can help us deliver better services to our fixed wireless end-users across Australia,” Owen said in remarks prepared for the conference.
“That being said we are certainly not done with 4G yet and we have a number of initiatives under way using next generation 4G technology such as MIMO to deliver an improved end-user experience on fixed wireless – but we absolutely want to look at what 5G will offer in the future to all Australians wherever they may live.”
5G, which can provide high-speed, super-low-latency data connections, is unlikely be a substitute for fixed-line broadband, Owen said.
“We know that 5G will enable much faster speeds than 4G but at NBN we also know better than anyone about how much data end-users are consuming and some of the challenges on putting that data capacity onto fixed wireless network,” the CTO said.
The government is preparing to auction off spectrum in the prime 3.6GHz band, which telcos plan to use for 5G deployments.
Government research released yesterday predicts that the rollout of 5G mobile technology will deliver a boost to productivity across Australia’s economy.
A new working paper (PDF) produced by the Department of Communications and the Arts’ Bureau of Communications Research forecasts that 5G could “add an additional $1,300 to $2,000 in gross domestic product per person” after the first decade of the rollout of the new wireless standard.