As the 5G mobile network rollout gathers pace in Australia, one analyst is pointing to an unintended benefit for those who stick with their 4G phones.
- The introduction of the 5G network will mean the 4G network will run faster, according to analyst David Kennedy
- 5G will be better than the NBN for some home broadband users, Mr Kennedy said
- Consumer Shane Le Beau says his home 5G broadband connection is faster and cheaper than NBN
David Kennedy has consulted to many of the Asia Pacific’s telecommunications networks, including Telstra, NBN and Optus, and said the rollout of 5G in South Korea provided an insight for Australia.
“One of the effects we saw in [South] Korea with 5G rolling out [was] that a lot of early adopters in the Korean market got 5G handsets very quickly,” he said.
“And what we actually saw there was a boost in 4G network performance because all of the heavy users had moved off onto the 5G network.
“We would expect to see similar effects in a lot of other markets like Australia.”
5G better than NBN for some home users
Mr Kennedy said 5G would have some limited impact on the NBN’s business model.
“Where we think 5G will have an impact on the NBN is in areas where the the NBN network is weakest so far,” Mr Kennedy said.
That is areas with fibre to the node or fixed wireless access, and rural areas.
“It’s in these particular areas that we think 5G will actually take business from NBN,” Mr Kennedy said.
“But we don’t expect to see a big impact on a national basis.”
Optus introduced 5G fixed wireless modems earlier this year for areas where 5G towers are already in place and where there may be consumers disappointed with the NBN.
Shane Le Beau decided to get a 5G home fixed wireless plan from Optus because the NBN installation date for his home was delayed.
Mr Le Beau lives in Clifton Hill in Melbourne’s inner north-east, one of the few areas with 5G coverage.
He pays about $70 a month.
“The price is actually cheaper than what the NBN costs, and it’s faster,” Mr Le Beau said.
“I get four or five times what most people get on NBN. So I’m pretty happy with it.
“I’m getting approximately 300 to 400 megabits down, 30 to 40 megabits up. I pay about $70 a month.
“When you compare that to an NBN plan, and you pay like $70 for 50 [megabits] down, 20 [megabits] up.”
Mr Le Beau said he initially had trouble getting the modem set up but “finally found a place that it would work and it really hasn’t caused me any trouble since”.
He said some of his neighbours now have the NBN connected, but he is happy to stick with the 5G connection.
“I don’t think many people realise that 5G can be an internet alternative,” he said.
“I think if you live in a coverage area and you’ve got windows where you can sit the modem, that it is an alternative. And it actually works really great.”
Telstra looks to business users
Telstra, one of the most aggressive spruikers of 5G technology, is approaching things differently.
“That’s certainly not in terms of our planning at this moment,” Telstra network engineering executive Channa Seneviratne said.
“Fixed wireless is something that is used in other countries. But at this stage with Telstra, we want to focus on mobility as being the best use case to advance 5G for our customers.”
Mr Seneviratne helped oversee the introduction of 2G, 3G and 4G in Australia.
He said Telstra’s 5G focus was the business market.
“5G is is going to be much faster, and it’s going to handle many more connections, and it’s going to do things that 4G could never do before,” he said.
“For example, we have a collaboration with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, where they envisage a 5G future.
“Which is an infrastructure-free branch, where everything inside the bank is running on the 5G network.”