Spirit claims first to offer services using 5G tech

Spirit claims first to offer services using 5G tech

Telecommunications provider Spirit Telecom has claimed it is already using technology that has been ratified as part of 5G.

The publicly-listed company's managing director, Geoff Neate, said on 10 October that beamforming technology will not be available to Telstra and Optus customers until next year. However, Spirit has been using it since 2017.

Beamforming is an antenna that transmits the signal in an approximately circular pattern and usually used by radio broadcasters or low-end Wi-Fi routers.

Spirit said that, thanks to the use of beamforming, the telco's customers are benefiting from reliable, symmetrical speeds of up to 1Gbps.

“True 5G will be a totally new network that will eventually make the existing 4G redundant,” said Dainen Keogh, CTO at Spirit Telecom.

“The full suite of 5G technologies has yet to be fully confirmed, but is expected to include at least five separate components. The one technology that has been agreed upon is beamforming.

“This is the piece that the high street giants are referring to when they talk about launching 5G next year but they are really just adding beamforming to their existing 4G networks. ‘4G+’ would be a better label, even though the global industry refers to it as 5G New Radio (5GNR).

“And while those two telcos say they have activated their first 5G sites, that’s of no use to their customers as suitable devices aren’t expected until 2019.

“True 5G probably won’t be available in Australia for another five to ten years,” Keogh added

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Optus has, however, disputed the comments saying it will deliver 5G in early 2019.

"This is not what the market would define as a complete 5G technology service, which Optus will deliver in early 2019," Andrew Sheridan, VP regulatory and public affairs at Optus told ARN.

In August, discussions had sparked over 5G readiness between Optus and Telstra.

The issue rose after Telstra claimed to be the first provider in Australia to be 5G ready, after the telecommunications giant revealed on 15 August it had turned on its 5G network in the Gold Coast.

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That claim was refuted by Optus who said it had publicly demonstrated its 5G capability in April at its 5G Live showcase during the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Spirit Telecom explained that earlier this year it upgraded the radios that provide the multipoint connections between a site and its customers it serves.

"Thanks to beamforming, this upgrade allows the company to offer plans as fast as 1Gbps. As Spirit owns its network, it was able to implement beamforming without disturbing customers’ existing connections," the company stated.

Telstra had not responded to ARN's request for comment at the time of writing.

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