Optus has been testing 5G for some time now with over 200 customers across almost 300 possible 5G sites trying out their home broadband via 5G solution. Today, 5G gets real with Optus formally launching a mobile and in-home solution.

Then in-home 5G solution is Optus’ key point of differentiation from Telstra though Optus is, of course, selling the Samsung and Oppo 5G handsets for mobile users.

Optus CEO Allen Lew says the company will have 5G coverage from 1200 towers by March 2020 ramping up longer-term though it could take three, four or five years before 5G truly replaces 4G.

He described today as the “Commercial launch” of Optus 5G, going on to say it was not just an “add on” with Optus integrating the 5G brand into the company name for marketing purposes calling it “OPTU5G”.

Optus 5G is available to almost 140,000 homes in Australia, across the capital cities, along with Geelong, the Mornington Peninsula, Central Coast of NSW, Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and as far north as Burpengary in Queensland.

Their Nokia in-home 5G Broadband solution acts as your modem and WiFi router, and should be a plug and play solution being what Optus call “Walk out Working”.

Speed wise, the trials have shown evening speeds on average of 164Mbps, far exceeding what’s possible on the NBN, though the limited users on the network would certainly aide that, with Optus still guaranteeing just 50Mbps on this service.

Mobile wise, the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and Note 10 5G along with the Oppo Reno 5G will be sold at Optus, with Mr Lew noting that “at this stage” the usage of 5G will be part of existing customer plans.

Content wise, Optus are creating a brand for themselves as the “Video Experience Network” with 4K Coverage of the Euro 2020 football championship in the middle of next year, and 4K for selected Premier League and Champions League from late 2020.

This is being done only for Optus 5G customers, allowing Optus to fully control the network and user experience, something they were unable to do during the World Cup of course.

For massive football fans with Optus NBN and a Fetch box, there is no change, with no current plans to offer 4K to those users. You would need to be on the Optus 5G network for your broadband to be able to stream games in 4K. This will hugely limit the audience for 4K streaming but will allow Optus to “say they did it” for additional bragging rights, but more importantly to get the technology right.

Coverage wise, from our look at the coverage maps, Optus have a far more advanced network roll-out than the big name in the game – Telstra.

In Sydney Telstra’s coverage is barely out of the city

While Optus has pockets all over the place.

The same can be said for Telstra in Melbourne

With Optus reaching far more locations.

In all of the announcement today from Optus, there was a lot of talk of “next-generation”, referring to both handsets and the network.

Allen Lew talked of 2021 being a defining time for the network when 5G would become extremely low latency as well as fast, while also pointing to the next generations of handsets we buy being a more advanced 5G – all of that leading us to retain our view that 5G is today for the earliest of early adopters, the time to get excited will be in 2021/22.

Though Optus do have a clear point of difference with their Home Broadband product, a great alternative for people not looking for fixed-line NBN services, or unhappy with their fixed-line broadband.