Toowoomba is a small rural city in Queensland, but it’s about to become the home of something big. Telstra have chosen Toowoomba as the next site to have 5G switched on, ready for the complete roll out sometime next year. The plan is to have 200 sites ready by the end of 2018. At this stage it’s more interesting than practical, but the upgrade will have Toowoomba powering ahead when 5G does become commercially available.
Telstra and 5G
Most of the major telcos are talking up 5G as a major point of interest and investment, and none more than Telstra. Telstra and Optus are not only leading the 5G race nationally, but achieving what they claim are world firsts as they scramble to be ready to offer 5G to their customers. Both companies chose the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast to showcase their 5G technology, with Telstra even turning on 5G capability in some areas.
Telstra claimed it was the world’s first precinct of 5G-enabled Wi-Fi hotspots, which they achieved by connecting standard Wi-Fi access points to the 5G backhaul and infrastructure to give users a real-world experience of the technology. They also launched an “Innovation Centre” to host demonstrations and help spark the public’s interest. There are no 5G capable devices available to the public yet, so the demonstrations are with future technology in mind.
Telstra have to start somewhere, and with the major international games hosted in the Gold Coast, the location made sense. But why Toowoomba?
The town seems to have attracted Telstra’s attention by its size and location. Toowoomba is the size of a large town or small city, but has been named one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. It is a key agricultural centre, merging city life with a rural location and focus. Telstra CEO Andrew Penn foresees possible innovations in education, health, community services and agriculture being made possible through his company’s provision of 5G.
Agriculture in particular was named as an area likely to benefit from 5G capabilities, which seems to have influenced the decision. “For a sector like agriculture, the fibre-like data speeds, low latency and high performance and capacity of 5G open up fantastic opportunities for growth” Penn said.
Benefits for Australia’s Backyard
It’s exciting for Toowoomba to have been chosen to host the next stage of the 5G rollout, but in terms of current practical benefits, there really aren’t many. Toowoomba residents will no doubt be gratified that the company has identified their city as an up-and-coming area that can make good use of 5G capabilities when they become available.
In the future, 5G will be especially important in rural areas that do not have access to fast internet speeds. Together with small cell technology, 5G should be much easier to deliver to remote locations. The extremely high speeds and low latency mean it should be a workable option for anyone needing an internet connection, and there are industry predictions that fixed-line internet services will become less important.
Almost every area of society is moving towards some level of automation and/or technological advancement. Agriculture provides a vast number of issues that can be solved or alleviated with the help of technology. Simple innovations like crop monitoring or tracking milk production in cows can provide more efficient systems, save money and time, and could potentially aid in addressing food shortages around the world.
A 5G Future
Even with 5G enabled, there are no devices capable of utilizing its full potential. However, by initiating and announcing the deployment of 5G capable infrastructure in areas around Australia, Telstra are showing their commitment to having everything ready to go when 5G-enabled devices become commercially available. There are at least 198 more sites planned for this year, both rural and urban. When the times comes to make 5G a reality for customers, Telstra will be perfectly placed to make sure their customers are among the first in the world to benefit from the new technology.