Vodafone will undertake lab trials of 5G technologies on its network towards the end of the year, just months after completing the bulk of its 4G rollout.
The mobile telco is following closely on the heels of rival Telstra to begin its testing of 5G technologies ahead of planned 5G deployments in 2020.
It today said lab tests would commence in the fourth quarter of this year. Production trials are scheduled closer to the 2020 deployment, around 2018/19.
The telco’s acting chief technology officer Kevin Millroy declined to provide specifics of the “first glimpse” Vodafone would take at 5G.
He said Vodafone would work with a number of its equipment suppliers - which include the likes of Huawei and Ericsson - on the trials but would not comment further.
“This will be the first opportunity to see and experience what a customer will get with a 5G offering,” Millroy said.
“The actual network will not be there until 2020. We’ve still got a 4G network that we have to ensure continues to deliver the great servivce that is has been delivering”.
But outgoing CTO Benoit Hanssen claimed Vodafone would be the first to market in Australia with a “standardised 5G offering”.
Vodafone in the UK last month revealed it was working with Huawei to lay the foundations of 5G by 2020. It is undertaking technical trials of 4x4 versions of Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) combined with multi-user beam forming to improve performance in heavily built up areas.
Millroy said he was not aware of the UK trials when questioned on whether they would be replicated locally.
Vodafone will undertake the 5G tests just months after completing the majority of its 4G network deployment. It recently converted its holdings of 850 MHz and 2100 MHz spectrum to 4G.
Vodafone chief strategy officer Dan Lloyd told iTnews a "handful" of sites, predominantly in metropolitan areas, remained unconverted due to things like landlord agreements that specified certain technologies.
He said the telco was working through each site on an individual basis.
Telstra is similarly planning a 2020 commercial launch of 5G services following production trials in 2018.
It revealed earlier this month it would start using an Ericsson 5G radio testbed from next month to “look at 5G capabilities in a real-world environment”