Ok, It’s time to concede that 5G is very real. Today I saw with my own eyes at HTC Mobile Hotspot device connect to a 5G network which Telstra say is a world first – so, it’s happening folks.

Telstra have been banging on about 5G for a while now, rightly – it’s critical to their future. But we’re on the cusp of a genuine reality here with Telstra showing not some bulky test device, but a real commercial device connecting to their 5G network.

Now, when I say “Their 5G network”, Telstra tell EFTM they have over 130 5G towers already, getting to 200 by the end of the year. These are however located in QLD and Tasmania where they have spectrum available to operate 5G, Sydney and Melbourne will have to wait until the Government spectrum licence auctions are complete – we’re awaiting timing on that, but it could be as late as the middle of next year.

In the meantime, Telstra is full steam ahead.

Each site they get 5G ready is also upgraded to Gigabit LTE or super fast 4G because the first 5G devices will rely on the 4G network to initially connect to, and also to share the capacity of any data transfers – trust me, it’s complicated.

Having conduced a call via a 5G test device recently, Telstra today took a much bigger step forward, showing EFTM two devices connecting to a 5G mobile tower which is operating on their main core network.

The first was a prototype from ZTE. It looked a LOT like a standard smartphone today, though to me it seemed 50% thicker so there’s still some work to be done on compressing down the components inside. This gives rise to the likelyhood of many 5G ready devices launching early next year, though as I’ve stated before, I doubt that will be the flagships from Samsung and Apple.

Also shown today, and perhaps more importantly was what we can only assume will be the first 5G device sold in Australia when it comes to market in the first half of next year. The “5G Hub” from HTC looks like a small mobile hotspot but with quite a large screen on front to show WiFi info, connectivity info and signal strength.

While I was not able to connect to it and test, I saw it power on, and connect to the 5G network after an initial few seconds on 4G.

Speaking in Sydney today Telstra CEO Andrew Penn said it was an important device for Telstra “Telstra’s 5G development and testing in real world environments is crucial to ensure Australians are among the first in the world to have access to 5G devices such as the HTC 5G Hub,” said Mr Penn.

Perhaps more realistically, those looking for speed should have their eyes focussed on the Netgear Nighthawk M2 mobile router. The second Mobile Nighthawk from Netgear, taking the first generations gigabit speeds and raising them to 2Gbps through the use of 5 simultaneous connections paired as one for you the end user. Mr Penn said “With the NETGEAR Nighthawk® M2 Mobile Router expected to be available in early 2019, we are gearing up to launch the world’s fastest 4G device on Australia’s fastest mobile network*.

“Hand in hand with our 5G rollout and supported by our network partner Ericsson, the 200 base stations we are enabling with 5G before the end of the year will also support peak speeds approaching 2Gbps# for enhanced 4G,” Mr Penn said.