Australian operator Optus has announced it has established a 5G data call over its 2300 MHz spectrum. Optus completed the test call in Sydney, in partnership with Ericsson. Optus currently uses 2300 MHz and 3500 MHz spectrum, and plans to build a dual-band 5G network to provide customers with increased capacity and coverage.
The operator is rolling out its 5G deployment plan using the 3500 MHz spectrum band and has more than 300 sites already installed. At this stage, the operator says, it is working toward deploying its 2300 MHz spectrum during 2020, to complement its existing 3500 MHz spectrum. Currently it has 300 5G sites live across Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra and other locations in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.
In February 2019, Ericsson, Singtel, Optus and Oppo enabled a 5G video call using augmented reality. The real-time AR video call took place between Singapore and Australia over Ericsson’s 5G networks. Engineers from Singtel and Optus demonstrated the use of AR on a real-time 5G video call using Ericsson’s 5G networks, making instant on-screen annotations to exchange views on their respective live 5G sites.
Whenever voice calling, the most old-fashioned and traditional of mobile services, seems most left-behind and irrelevant, a new technology arrives on the scene to enhance it and make it relevant again. One might even say that voice demonstrates over and over its evergreen nature as a perennially useful and in-demand functionality, even as data in its various deployments gets the most attention.
As 5G is rolled out in diverse markets worldwide, the bandwidth of these high-speed networks is brought to bear in ways that enhance existing services, as well as making new services possible. In the case of voice telephony, the technology being deployed by Optus in partnership with Ericsson is noteworthy because by transmitting voice over IP with video using 5G speed, it transforms and heightens the experience by adding an augmented-reality component. This AR feature allows users to write on the screen and annotate a conversation in order to exchange different sorts of input on a real-time interactive basis, in a way beyond what oral communication can accomplish on its own. Presumably these calls could be recorded with the annotations for further review later.
By consecrating a particular piece of spectrum for 5G calling (including but not limited to this AR-enhanced version), Optus is carving out for itself a market sector in Australia and internationally. The original trial in February was done over Ericsson’s proprietary spectrum, but now Optus has made a move so that its own 5G spectrum—enhanced by developments created by Ericsson—can handle this special voice calling application. Bringing this new technology in house is an excellent example of the ways in which technology partnerships can help mobile operators be not only relevant but cutting-edge.