Vodafone just held its first live public 5G demonstration in Australia, with Nokia at the University of Technology in Sydney. Gizmodo joined UTS staff and students watch robots deal with latency, eight simultaneous streams of Virtual Reality and of course — speed tests using 5G capabilities.
But when will we get it, and what will it be used for?
Using 200 MHz of spectrum, the tests produced speeds of up to 5 gigabit per second. That's like downloading a (legally acquired, of course) season of Game of Thrones in 10 seconds.
VR will be one of the biggest benefactors of 5G Vodafone said, and it was demonstrated at the trial through footage recorded with Nokia's OZO 360 degree virtual reality camera. The VR trial showed the transmission of eight simultaneous streams of VR content, achieving throughout of up to 1.5Gbps — full speed of 4.5Gbps possible over the system, according to Vodafone.
The tests also showed latency (super important for the Internet of Things slowly taking over all of our lives), was 3 milliseconds. In a nutshell, latency is the speed in which a packet of data gets from one device to another. This becomes crucial in technology like connected vehicles, where live updates of a car's position can be communicated to other vehicles.
Vodafone Chief Technology Officer Kevin Millroy said that 5G will be a fundamental leap forward in mobile network technology, bringing with it the power of the Internet of Things.
"5G will to propel a technological revolution," Mr Millroy said. "With IoT promising to change all of our lives, it calls for a technology which can handle an immense amount of simultaneous connections, far greater than the capabilities of 4G networks."
He emphasised that while Vodafone's 4G network will be around for many years to come, there's a growing importance for 5G as consumer demand for data continues to grow at faster rates than ever. Vodafone is already gearing up for the deployment of 5G, with more than 550 sites already migrated to Vodafone's fibre transmission network.
But that doesn't mean we'll have it anytime soon. Think 2020's and you're in the ballpark.
"We see compounding annual data growth rates of around 40 per cent, which we expect will skyrocket as more everyday things become connected to the internet," Mr Millroy said. "The industry is searching for a solution to support higher volumes of data traffic".
Nokia's Managing Director, Oceania, Ray Owen, said "It won't happen overnight, but 5G is a change that will ultimately impact every industry."
UTS is leading the research efforts in Australia on several projects covering antenna design, development of systems and networks, and innovative solutions to enable Internet of Things deployment with 5G, as well as hosting the Internet of Things Alliance Australia (IoTAA).
"UTS is uniquely placed in Australia to conduct 5G research, with a large team of world-class researchers combining extensive industry and academic experience in world-class research facilities," said Professor Eryk Dutkiewicz, Head of the School of Computing and Communications, Faculty of Engineering and Information technology (FEIT).
"Innovations created by UTS researchers working with industry partners are contributing to emerging 5G international standards, and we will be further testing 5G technology solutions for their deployment in the Australian market and beyond."