This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon, so in the long run, it won’t make any difference who was first except to say that Telstra got the jump on everyone both in a real-world availability and marketing sense.
But the playing field is levelling out, as Vodafone today makes 5G available to customers.
Initially – as with other telcos – in a very small few areas, the 5G roll-out will be aggressive as towers are upgraded across major metro areas offering faster speeds to those with Vodafone accounts, and 5G devices.
Samsung’s latest S20 range are all available in 5G, and we expect a large number of 5G phones to hit the market in 2020, with prices expected to start at much lower numbers than we saw in 2019 when it was a super-premium offering.
With Apple’s next iPhone expected to be 5G compatible, this will be a big year for Telcos to enable more coverage in more areas.
Right now even Telstra’s coverage is patchy at best – but, as we say, it’s a long race.
I tested Vodafone’s 5G signal last night using a Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra at Sydney’s Rosehill, and while I wasn’t aware where the signal was, I isolated the best speeds around a hotel with a large number of mobile towers on it, which I believe was the host of Vodafone’s 5G signal.
The best speeds I achieved were just over 500mbps, but it’s early days!
Choosing Western Sydney as a launchpad for 5G is smart – it’s where Sydney’s heartland is, and while it is still quite small, its a signal to everyday Sydney-siders that 5G is coming, not just for City workers.
Vodafone CEO Iñaki Berroeta noted the excitement of the launch saying “This is an exciting occasion for us as a business and for our customers – we have worked tirelessly to put our customers at the heart of our 5G plans and we are proud to switch on our first live sites today in Parramatta,”
Critically, Mr Berroeta also confirmed two important aspects of 5G for Aussie customers. There will be no additional charge for using 5G, and 5G international roaming is coming soon.
“In the coming months, we will be leading international roaming into the next generation of mobile technology by combining the great value of our $5 Roaming product with a 5G network experience in five of Australia’s favourite travel destinations,” he said.
Those five countries will be the UK, Spain, Ireland, Germany and Italy with more to come.
On charging for 5G, the CEO said “When 5G arrives to our customers with 5G devices, they will get 5G network access at no extra charge,”
It’s a big project. Over 600 sites are in planning, with thousands on the long term road-map.
5G sites will be rolled out progressively in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra and Perth.
As we say, better late than never!