World-first 5G hotspots come to Australia... with 4G speeds!

Aussie carrier Telstra has switched on a set of 5G-capable Wi-Fi hotspots, but mere mortals will only get a fraction of 5G speeds on their 4G phones.

Claire Reilly Former Principal Video Producer
Claire Reilly was a video host, journalist and producer covering all things space, futurism, science and culture. Whether she's covering breaking news, explaining complex science topics or exploring the weirder sides of tech culture, Claire gets to the heart of why technology matters to everyone. She's been a regular commentator on broadcast news, and in her spare time, she's a cabaret enthusiast, Simpsons aficionado and closet country music lover. She originally hails from Sydney but now calls San Francisco home.
Expertise Space, Futurism, Science and Sci-Tech, Robotics, Tech Culture Credentials
  • Webby Award Winner (Best Video Host, 2021), Webby Nominee (Podcasts, 2021), Gold Telly (Documentary Series, 2021), Silver Telly (Video Writing, 2021), W3 Award (Best Host, 2020), Australian IT Journalism Awards (Best Journalist, Best News Journalist 2017)
Claire Reilly
2 min read

5G promises incredible speeds, but it's yet to become a reality.


Here's the good news: Australia is now home to the world's first 5G-capable Wi-Fi hotspots. The bad news? There are currently no 5G-capable phones or tablets on the market, so no one using them will see 5G speeds.

Aussie carrier Telstra installed the hotspots at its 5G Innovation Centre in South Port on Australia's east coast, utilising its 5G test network. But while the Innovation Centre has been kitted out with a 5G-capable modem to power the hotspots, people using the free Wi-Fi won't see 5G speeds. That's thanks to the limitations of Wi-Fi throughput, as well as the fact the public will be stuck on 4G phones.

Telstra says its 5G network is capable of speeds of up to 3Gbps, but people using the Wi-Fi will be limited to roughly 100Mbps, based on launch-day tests. Still, that's an impressive speed for public Wi-Fi and a good way to sell the sizzle of 5G, minus the beefy network-enabled steak.

The race toward 5G is continuing apace as carriers around the world push to be first to market with 5G testing and public 5G demos. But until the world's carriers, telco infrastructure companies, handset manufacturers and regulators decide on a 5G standard (which could come as early as the 3GPP conference on the Gold Coast in September), we won't see 5G in the wild.

Still, Telstra has been working hard to get the 5G buzz out in Australia. The rollout of the 5G hotspots was accompanied by the demo of Australia's first 5G-connected car. Telstra says it's reaching download speeds of 1Gbps inside the car, which also has its own Wi-Fi access point.

No word yet on whether the speeds will get faster when the car is painted red.