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.