5G is good, but it’s going to get better, Telstra exec says

Telstra’s shift to a heavily virtualised network allows the telco to rapidly roll out software updates

Telstra’s network engineering chief, Channa Seneviratne, says that the telco has launched 5G at a much earlier stage in the technology’s development compared to the 3G and 4G standards.

“When we launched the Next G network it was quite a mature technology,” the Telstra executive today told a press briefing. “Even when we launched 4G in 2011, it was quite mature.”

In contrast the telco has begun offering 5G services “when the ink was just drying”, following the standard’s release last year.

“The software that we’ve got in our network today is not even at, if you like, general available status,” Seneviratne said. “This is really advanced; its beta-level software we’re launching with – but it’s stable, it’s absolutely stable. We’ve made sure of that.”

“It is really early days,” he said.

The performance of 5G services will increase progressively as updated software is rolled out across Telstra’s network, and as mobile device makers also update their software, Seneviratne said.

Telstra’s move to a highly virtualised network allows it to roll out updated software across its network a lot quicker than it could previously, he said.

Seneviratne said that Telstra was currently offering 5G support in 10 cities — Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, the Gold Coast, Hobart, Launceston, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, and Toowoomba — covering the CBDs “plus a little more”.

Delivering 5G coverage to those CBDs means that “over 4 million can enjoy the benefits of 5G for either work or play,” he said.

In the next 12 months, Telstra will increase the 5G footprint in those cities and “push on” to 25 more cities, he said.

“Over the next two to three years you’ll see a lot more advanced features coming along, where 5G becomes absolutely ubiquitous in the way we do everything at work or play and in the way we run industries and the way we manage our infrastructure as well,” he said.

Last week Telstra began selling its first 5G device, the HTC 5G Hub, through its website. From tomorrow, the device will be available in-store — alongside the first 5G handset available in Australia, the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G.

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