While the devices that launch here in Barcelona are shiny and feature rich, they are nothing without the mobile networks they connect to. It’s those networks that dominate the show floor at Mobile World Congress and today Telstra sat side by side with their network partners to re-affirm their commitment to 5G as our next big step forward.

While this next advanced network has been discussed for some time (many years), it’s now almost a reality with 2019 slated as the timeframe for Telstra’s Australian launch in a number of major cities and regional centres across Australia.

This doesn’t come cheap, Chief Operating Office Robyn Denholm outlining the $5 billion investment over three years leading up to next June “5G will help deliver the next industrial revolution, unlocking opportunities across industries and markets and we want to ensure Australians are among the first in the world to gain access to it,” Ms Denholm said.

“5G will be a critical building block in economic competitiveness for the nation, so we are planning our
network rollout to give as many customers as possible access to 5G technology as soon as possible.

Telstra are at pains to point out that a network like this does not just turn on with the flick of a switch.

The company’s planning for 5G has been underway for years. Here’s their own timeline of activities leading up to the launch next year.


  • Networks for the Future program begins with approximately $1.5 billion of additional
    investment above business as usual in Telstra’s network over three years to 30 June
  • Telstra conducts Australia’s first 5G field trial with Ericsson in Melbourne


  • Launch of Telstra’s gigabit-capable 4G service and rollout in CBDs and other high traffic
    locations in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
  • Telstra’s 4G coverage footprint passes 99% of the Australian population
  • Telstra and Ericsson conduct the world’s first 5G outdoor data call over 26GHz
    ‘mmWave’ radiofrequency spectrum
  • Optical transport technology rolled out in transmission network connecting Sydney,
    Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth
  • Milestone passed of 90% of Telstra customers with double the original speeds of 4G


  • Launch of the Telstra 5G Innovation Centre on the Gold Coast and Australia first test of
    5G in a moving vehicle
  • Demonstration of 2 Gbps enabled 4G with Qualcomm and Ericsson
  • Planned rollout of 2Gbps enabled 4G to select high traffic locations**
  • Planned deployment of more than 1,000 small cells to enhance capacity in metro areas*
  • 4G and 5G integration trials with Ericsson, Intel and Qualcomm, including first
    interoperability testing the new 5G Non Stand-Alone Radio (NSA) standard
  • Ongoing trials and collaboration with vendor and industry partners at the new 5G
    Innovation Centre on the Gold Coast
  • Global standard setting body, 3GPPS, meeting on the Gold Coast to consider 5G
    commercial standards


  • Telstra plans to offer its first 5G services
  • Networks for the Future program concludes at 30 June 2019

Trevor Long traveled to Barcelona for Mobile World Congress with Support from Sony, Huawei, Samsung and Vodafone.