In the battle for 5G coverage in Australia, it has until now, been a fight between the two largest telcos, Telstra and Optus. While 2019 saw the launch of Australia’s first 5G network and devices courtesy of Telstra, Optus wasn’t far behind with its own rollout of a 5G network and 5G-compatible products. During this time, Vodafone was very quiet with little information on when its 5G network would be made available to customers, until now. Right before the new year kicks off, Vodafone has announced a partnership with Nokia to deliver its 5G network.
While Vodafone has been the slowest of the big three telcos to roll out a 5G network, the 5G partnership between Vodafone and Nokia goes back to 2016 when Vodafone conducted the first public 5G trial. “We are delighted to be working closer with Vodafone Hutchison Australia on transforming its network to deliver superior 5G services to its customers.” says Federico Guillén, President, Customer Operations EMEA and APAC at Nokia.
This announcement comes after an interesting 2019 for Australia’s third largest telco, as a proposed merger between Vodafone and TPG was blocked by the ACCC, which likely contributed to the delayed 5G rollout. However, Vodafone does plan to fight this decision in the Federal Court.
Vodafone 5G network to go live in 2020
This partnership brings some solid confirmation that Vodafone will officially launch its 5G network in the first half of 2020. The telco plans to switch on sites in and around the Sydney suburb of Parramatta, as these sites were initially a test area for Nokia and have now helped to fast-track the launch of the Vodafone 5G network.
Vodafone’s Chief Executive Officer, Iñaki Berroeta says, “Their knowledge of our network is extensive, and they are in the best position to ensure a seamless transition and that we reach our 5G goals as soon as possible while maintaining the best experience for our 4G customers.”
A Vodafone spokesperson has also stated that the telco has no plans to charge customers extra to access 5G services. While both Telstra and Optus’ 5G networks are currently available free to all eligible customers, Telstra does plan to impose a $15 per month surcharge for the service on lower-priced mobile and data plans from June of next year.
5G-compatible devices from Vodafone
While we now have a more solid road map for Vodafone’s 5G network, there is still no news on whether a 5G-compatible device will be available through the telco once the network is live. Whether the telco will release a 5G mobile phone or broadband device has also not been made clear, but no doubt we will hear more on this in the coming months.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G phone was the first 5G phone to be launched in Australia and was initially a Telstra-exclusive device until Optus started rolling out its 5G network in the second half of 2019. The same year also saw several new 5G devices released from other manufacturers including OPPO and LG, which are mostly available through Telstra and some through Optus as well.
While 2019 was a big year for 5G devices, 2020 will see many more handsets available, including the possibility of a 5G iPhone from Apple.
Compare 5G phone plans
While Vodafone’s 5G network is still a while off from launching, both Telstra and Optus carry a range of 5G phones on plans. As Telstra started its 5G rollout first, you might find there are more 5G sites available through Australia’s largest telco, but Optus is playing catch ups. You’ll also find a wide selection of 5G phones from a range of manufacturers, so you can compare devices to find the right phone for you.