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Telstra: we'll unleash 5G mobiles by June

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JULY 24: Mobile phones products and consumer telecommunications technology on display in a Telstra retail store in Sydney on July 24, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by James Alcock/Getty Images)

Telstra is claiming a major win in the 5G race, announcing it will sell smartphones fit for the new network before any other Australian telecommunications provider.

Telstra chief executive Andy Penn confirmed that the company had signed exclusive agreements with unnamed mobile manufacturers, and that it would start selling 5G handsets in the first half of this calendar year.

“More than 200 Telstra 5G mobile base stations are now online across the nation and our customers will very soon be among the first in the world to experience the possibilities this revolutionary technology can deliver,” he said at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

No other details on the phones or the manufacturers were announced.

Australian telecommunications providers are locked in a fierce race to deploy new 5G mobile networks as a super-fast viable alternative to land-based data connections. Testing has indicated 5G is capable of going at 30 times faster than the NBN and 60 times faster than current 4G mobile networks.

While both Optus and Telstra now have operational 5G zones, the next step is to get actual 5G-capable devices into consumers’ hands so that they can actually use the network.

With today’s announcement, Telstra is likely to be the first offer mobile phones, while Optus planned to have a fixed wireless router for home internet available this month.

The technology also provides capacity for ‘internet of things’ devices that are expected to proliferate in the coming years — everything from internet-connected toasters, industrial sensors to smart cars.

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