A phone with no signal isn't much use. Picture: David Becher Creative Commons 2.0
A phone with no signal isn't much use. Picture: David Becher Creative Commons 2.0

Annoying phone problem solved

EVER been at a crowded event like a music festival or grand final and struggled to get phone coverage?
You're not alone. In fact, that's precisely the problem.

Most people now have a smartphone in their pocket, so when lots of us gather in places that are usually almost empty, it can make it hard to get coverage, as the existing mobile network can support only a limited number of devices.

 

 

The introduction of 5G mobile networks however should soon make this annoying limitation a thing of the past.

The existing 4G network is limited to around 100,000 devices per square kilometre, while the incoming 5G can support ten times that - up to a million devices at once.

It's just one of the benefits of the new network technology, and will become increasingly important in the future as things like autonomous cars, internet of Things, and other staples of so-called "smart cities" become more commonplace and devices vie for space on the network.

The increased connection capacity means you don't have to fight against other fans trying to share video of their favourite band on Instagram or going live on Twitter to broadcast a game-winning shot at goal.

Faster data transfers and lower latency means you'll also be able to do it much quicker too.

Currently Telstra and Optus are in the middle of rolling out 5G mobile networks, while rival telco Vodafone, the only other mobile network operator, is waiting a decision on whether it can merge with TPG.

A 5G tower like this one can support up to a million devices per square kilometre.
A 5G tower like this one can support up to a million devices per square kilometre.

While the increased capacity of 5G networks means more people are able to connect, some areas such as stadiums and out-of-the-way areas used for music festivals could require special treatment.

"Providing 5G coverage in and around special event locations is part of our rollout plans but it will require customised design and sufficient capacity deployment at and around each location," Optus head of mobile access planning Kent Wu told news.com.au.

"Once installed in crowded venues such as stadiums, 5G technology is expected to provide much wider bandwidth, higher speeds and higher overall capacity which means it will be able to accommodate more users simultaneously. When looking at a confined venue such as a stadium an in-building coverage solution needs to be built which ensures the 5G signal is able to travel throughout all areas of the venue."

Optus already has around 300 5G sites across Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, and a number of regional centres, but it plans to quadruple that to 1200 sites by March next year.

Crowds at Optus Stadium in Perth should have 5G coverage by the start of next year’s footy season. (AAP Image/Tony McDonough)
Crowds at Optus Stadium in Perth should have 5G coverage by the start of next year’s footy season. (AAP Image/Tony McDonough)

Optus has also announced plans for its namesake stadium in Perth to have full 5G coverage by the start of the 2020 AFL season.

Earlier this year Telstra turned on a 5G network at the MCG ahead of the AFL Grand Final.

The introduction of 5G networks will bring huge improvements for early adopters, but those who wait should also see an improvement to their existing 4G networks as people move away from it.

"Before 5G dedicated coverage solutions are installed in these locations, we are also continuously expanding the 4G capacity in these areas so that majority of our 4G customers can also have a better experience," Mr Wu said.

"The additional bandwidth and capacity that 5G will provide will only continue to improve as the 5G network is built out and densified. For Optus it's about building a 5G network powerful enough to cope with the huge demand that is put on the network as tens of thousands of festival goers or sporting fans upload videos to social media, message their friends or simply browse the internet throughout an event," he said.

 

 

Like many other areas of every day life, 5G also boasts huge potential for emerging and future technology that could change how we interact at big events too, with augmented and virtual reality able to deliver immersive viewing experiences and access to stats and other figures in real time.


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