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You are going to hear a lot about 5G at Telstra over the next few weeks. Today GadgetGuy was at the Telstra Experience Centre at 400 George Street in Sydney. Naturally, there you can get the best 5G signal in Australia – one of the few 5G signals at present. And, we saw the new Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and HTC 5G modem.

Yes, you are all going to hear about 5G at Telstra for a long time to come because in the 5G phone game it is the main player. If 5G is a mystery to you, then read GadgetGuy’s 5G guide here.

Let’s get a few things straight – 5G at Telstra is still embryonic.

5G (as we saw it today) is still very early in its development phase. Telstra admits that it has many software updates and tweaks to make, but it is stable and operating in a very limited area.

The Telstra Ericsson technology in Australia is sub-6GHz in non-standalone mode. It is built on existing 4GX technology, adding small cell repeaters and 5G antennas, utilising existing power and backhaul networks.

All the 5G speed and low latency hype are based on mmWave 5G. This has not even been licenced for use. It will be some years away before implantation, let alone comprehensive roll out and coverage.

Telstra will not talk about definite 5G speeds. And we dont blame it with the ACCC scrutiny of Telcos and truth in advertising. Except to say that 5G today should be up to two times faster than 4GX.

When it states that 4G/4GX speeds are up to 50/300Mbps then it is nowhere near 20 Mbps that 5G (mmWave) promises. No we will see speeds around 1Gbps for a long time to come.

Telstra claims 5G coverage in 10 cities. A total of 35, including major regional cities to come in an unspecified time frame.

It currently has 125 small cells, so the coverage is in 125 places and for the most part, only a few hundred metres around that small cell. You can see the Telstra 5G Sydney coverage map here (estimate at 30 June). And while you may have 5G coverage outside it uses a higher frequency that is more susceptible to being blocked inside homes and buildings.

5G at Telstra

Telstra and HTC 5G Hub

The HTC 5G hub is a portable 5G (and 3/4G) modem and Wi-Fi AC/AD router/hotspot that can support up to 20 devices. It is really a 5-inch Android tablet powered by a Qualcomm SD855 and the X50 5G modem.

5G at Telstra

Forgetting 5G (which GadgetGuy cannot get at Woolloomooloo – about 1km from Telstra’s HQ in George Street) the modem can get 241/51.8Mbps (DL/UL) which is about twice the NBN 100 speed.

The catch 22 is that unlike NBN, there is no all-you-can-eat data package. The consumer package (per month over 24 months and includes the modem) is $70/10GB, $94/30GB and $104/80GB. Telstra is offering 15/30/20GB bonus data if you sign up by 24 June (conditions apply). Extra data is $10 per GB. There are no 365-day, 5G plans or outright modem purchase plans at present.

I just want to put data costs in perspective. A 4K, 60-minute show will use 90GB and costs over $90. A 1K show may get down to 10-15GB. Note we are not talking about highly compressed video streams.

It’s not a bad little modem/router at all with a 5-inch, 1280 x 720, colour touch screen, USB-C 3.1 (with DisplayPort out), microSD to 512GB, Gigabit Lan Port, 7660mAh battery, running Android 9 and Google Assistant support.

Telstra and Samsung Galaxy 10 5G

The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G was launched today and in extremely controlled tests at Telstra HQ reached 1.2Gbps/64Mbps DL/UL speeds.

It is the first 5G phone available in Australia and uses the Samsung Exynos 9820 SoC (same as the S10 family) and a new Exynos 5100 Modem. This is an industry first as the modem supports 2/3/4G/4GX on the same chip saving power over the Qualcomm X50 5G modem that requires a separate 3/4G modem.

5G at Telstra

Interestingly it also supports 4G LTE Cat 19 for download speeds of up to 1.6Gbps – of course that depends on the Telco setup.

The new Galaxy S10 5G has six cameras (two front and four rear) as well as Infrared depth sensing and has tied with the Huawei P30 Pro at 112 DxoMARK for rear cameras and blitzes the rest with 97 for Selfies.

Samsung Vice President, Mobile Division, Garry McGregor said:

“Today is a historic moment in smartphone technology. Australians will be amongst the first in the world to experience the power of 5G as this is the third country globally, where Samsung has launched the Galaxy S10 5G. We are delivering on a longstanding commitment to ensure that Samsung continues to set new milestones with its smartphones through meaningful innovation in design, engineering and network collaboration.

Only from Telstra (at present) in Majestic Black and Crown Silver

If you bought a Galaxy S10+, you can upgrade for free for 21-days from 28 May (details here). If you have the 128GB S10+ then you get the 256GB S10 5G – note the 5G version does not support microSD memory expansion. You maintain the balance of your existing plan.

Telstra Samsung Galaxy S10 5G plans

Telstra offers a buy and a lease plan.

Buy

On a 24-month Telstra Mobile  Buy Plan, you purchase a phone to use with your plan and pay it off over 24 months. At the end of the plan, the phone is yours to keep.

Lease

On a 24-month Telstra Mobile Lease Plan, you don’t own the phone, you make monthly lease payments. As you don’t own the phone, you need to return it to Telstra in good working order or there are additional costs.

Outright purchase

At present there are no outright purchase options from Telstra

Buy (24 months) based on 256GB model (512GB model in brackets). As you own the phone you get any trade-in value if you resell it.

Price $ Data GB Bonus GB Plan value $ Handset payment $ Total cost $
132 (152) 3   59 73 (93) 3168 (3648)
136 (156) 10 10 79 57 (77) 3264 (3744)
140 (160) 30 20 99 41 (61) 3360 (3840)
144 (164) 60 100 119 25 (45) 3456 (3936)
199 (199) “unlimited” 120GB limit may apply – see Fair Play Policy   199 0 4776

Lease (hand phone back in good working order at the end or charges apply). As you don’t own the phone Telstra gets any re-sale value.

Price $ Data GB Bonus GB Plan value $ Handset payment $ Total cost $
132 (152) 3   59 73 (93) 3168 (3648)
136 (156) 10 10 79 57 (77) 3264 (3744)
140 (160) 30 20 99 41 (61) 3360 (3840)
144 (164) 60 100 119 25 (45) 3456 (3936)
199 (199) “unlimited” 120GB limit may apply – see Fair Play Policy   199 0 4776

All plans include a range of Telstra extras and have the ability to trade up to a new phone. If you go over your data allowance extra data is $10 per GB or you can opt for a 1.5MBps speed cap. Please read the critical information on each plan.