mmWave 5G: what you need to know
You’ve probably heard of 5G and its ability to provide fast speeds at low latency with higher capacity, but what you might not know is what goes into making 5G a reality. 5G, like 4G, is made up of many different technologies all working together to give you a great experience, wherever you go. One such technology that brings 5G to life is mmWave.
What is mmWave?
mmWave – pronounced as “millimetre wave” – is a short-range, high-frequency network technology that really shows off what 5G can do.
It’s the next ‘wave’ of 5G, so to speak.
If you think of a network like a pipe, you can only force so much down that pipe before things become congested. We’re always looking to create newer, wider pipes so more data can be carried across our network for more people at once. That’s where mmWave comes in.
mmWave has a lot more bandwidth on offer. It’s another step towards delivering on 5G’s potential with super-fast speeds and more capacity.
It got its catchy name from the type of frequency it uses – which is what your phone uses to talk to mobile base stations to make calls, send texts and keep your data running fast and smooth. What you might not know is previous generations of mobile coverage have often operated over a number of different frequencies, all working together seamlessly to ensure a fantastic experience that offers great coverage and speed whether you’re using it in a building, a train station or out on the street.
5G is very similar in that we will be layering several different frequency technologies together to deliver its potential of great speed, low latency and high capacity for all our customers.
We’ve already rolled out 5G coverage, using 3.6Ghz spectrum, to 32 metro and regional cities, and are on track to reach into 35 cities by mid-year. mmWave, which operates on higher frequencies like the 26GHz Telstra is using for live trials, will be added to the mix in the near future as one of those extra layers.
How does mmWave work?
mmWave higher frequency means it can offer a lot of capacity and bandwidth over a shorter range. mmWave cells broadcast a signal up to a few hundred metres from the base station, meaning it’s best suited for areas where a high amount of users are concentrated – places like shopping centres; crowded inner-city train stations and even stadiums can all benefit from the capabilities of mmWave.
Think how good it would be to have less congestion and awesome data speed on New Year’s Eve in Sydney Harbour, Federation Square or Riverbank. That’s the power of mmWave!
Having thousands of attendees stream 4K video to a smartphone or tablet, or holding video calls and send amazing pictures to each other while attending the Melbourne Cricket Ground requires the immense bandwidth and speed that mmWave can offer, and it’s perfectly tuned for the task.
mmWave is not new – it is already used in Australia for wireless services like fixed point-to-point communications infrastructure and satellite internet. Recent advancements have now opened the digital door to high-speed wireless.
We know there’s a lot of talk about the public safety impact of new, high-frequency networks. We’ve completed extensive testing of our 5G network infrastructure in real-world settings using commercially available 5G devices, and our data confirms two things. Firstly, our 5G technology produces electromagnetic energy (EME) levels at around 1000 times below the safety limits in many cases. Secondly, all our testing has found 5G EME levels to be similar to 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi.
Through our 5G Innovation Centre on the Gold Coast and via live trials, we’re continuing to explore technology like mmWave as we roll out 5G to more places in Australia. It represents the next step in ongoing technical leadership, unlocks greater potential for our customers using this incredible new technology and, as we enhance it going forward, we’re excited to see the whole ecosystem improves dramatically.