Optus has switched on a new 5G site in the north-western Sydney suburb of Kellyville. The telco partnered with Ericsson to establish its fourth 5G site, which is expected to eventually give customers in the area access to a 5G network.

Optus said the new site is currently undergoing inter-operability device testing. Once complete, the telco is expected to request expressions of interest from eligible customers in the area.

Initial use cases will likely be 5G powered fixed wireless – a service Optus announced last month – as 5G enabled mobile handsets are not yet available in Australia, nor is the 5G network infrastructure.

The Optus live sites follow its main rival, Telstra, which debuted their own live sites late last year after securing early access as part of its 5G spectrum auction win.

TPG had to shelve its plans for a 5G network after the federal government barred the use of its Chinese network infrastructure vendor Huawei for 4G network upgrades, citing national security concerns.

Optus explained the details of its new site in a statement. “Using Ericsson’s 5G RAN equipment the site has achieved a working end to end solution based on 3GPP standards, utilising third-party customer premises equipment (CPE) test device on Optus’ 3.5 GHz spectrum with a channel bandwidth of 60 MHz.”

The Kellyville site joins three other Optus 5G “live sites” in Sydney and Canberra, and the telco said it has plans for around 50 similar sites to be built in the coming months.

Optus plans to deliver 1,200 5G sites across the ACT, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia by March 2020.

Rollout plan

An Optus spokesperson told Which-50 upcoming 5G sites are being selected based on availability, access and “anticipating future demand for 5G mobile services”.

“… the first rollout of sites will include residential locations and other key customer hotspots surrounding airports, train stations, sports stadiums and CBD locations.”

Optus would not give a timeline for the full roll out of its 5G network but indicated urban areas would be first in line.

“Our multi-year, 5G network build will include upgrading and adding new mobile sites while densifying the network with innovative small cell solutions to increase capacity and speed in highly populated inner-city locations,” the spokesperson said.

5G is being touted as the infrastructure that can enable nascent technology like autonomous cars and smart cities, through higher network speeds and lower latency. But the next generation mobile network requires considerable infrastructure investments to operationalise.

While Ericsson is partnering on the initial 5G sites, Optus managing director, networks, Dennis Wong said the company is taking a multivendor approach to 5G infrastructure.

“We are further demonstrating that our multi-vendor approach to Optus 5G will help to deliver a more dynamic and innovative 5G network for the benefit of our customers,” Wong, said.

“With our fourth live 5G site now live we are building towards a truly game-changing year for Optus and our customers. Our next generation network build is now well and truly in full swing with site roll out planned over the coming months.”

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