Telstra has become the latest major telco to share its 5G roadmap, announcing plans to trial key 5G technologies in partnership with Ericsoon during the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Mike Wright, managing director of networks at the Australian incumbent, said during a press conference on the eve of Mobile World Congress that the telco aims to gain an understanding of how 5G radio hardware performs in the field.
He said Telstra does not expect to trial commercial 5G devices but will put 5G chipsets to the test, adding that the company's plans will be refined between now and 2018.
In the meantime, Telstra is working closely with Ericsson, including sending engineers to Sweden for six months to collaborate on millimetre-wave (mmWave) technology in preparation for a 5G field test in Australia later this year.
Telstra will also use Ericsson's testbed to investigate use cases for massive multiple-input, multiple output (MIMO) and beam-forming, Wright said.
Through its work with Ericsson, Telstra is also participating in the 5G standardisation process to ensure that the next generation of mobile technology meets the unique needs of Australia, a developed but sparsely-populated market.
In addition, Telstra also announced it will deploy Ericsson's telecom cloud, virtualising its wireless core network in readiness for 5G and advanced Internet of Things (IoT) services.
"Telstra will be our lead customer and one of the first [telcos] in the world" to virtualise its core network, said Emilio Romeo, head of Australia and New Zealand at Ericsson.
Under the deal, Ericsson will supply a full-stack telecom cloud that includes network functions virtualisation (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN).
Romeo said Telstra will have "a fully programmable, agile network," that is 5G-ready and supports network slicing, where a single physical network is divided, or sliced, into multiple virtual networks with capacity and coverage tailored to meet the individual requirements of a diverse range of use cases.