FKG Group eyes 5G’s potential to boost agritech efforts

Telstra equips engineering firm with early commercial 5G device

Civil engineering and construction firm FKG Group is one of the first Telstra customers to get its hands on a commercial 5G device, the telco announced today.

FKG will conduct tests with the HTC 5G Hub mobile broadband device, which Telstra last week revealed will be one of the first commercial 5G devices it launches.

“This launch is a vital first step toward enabling a 5G experience with a customer, bringing together a first generation device with Telstra’s 5G network using the 3Gpp standards for the first time,” said Telstra CEO Andrew Penn said.

“We expect a range of devices to become commercially available in the first half of 2019 and as soon as they are launched at scale, we will begin to offer them to customers.”

Telstra expects to release the Hub, which it collaborated with HTC to develop, in the first half of next year.

Toowoomba is home to one the first mobile sites that Telstra has declared 5G-ready. The company expects to have 200 5G-ready base stations by the end of December.

(Telstra has also declared sites 5G ready in Launceston, where smart city applications are being tested, and the Gold Coat, which is home to the telco’s 5G Innovation Centre.)

Telstra chose Toowoomba as an early 5G site in part because of FKG’s efforts to develop an agritech innovation centre there, including launching earlier this year the $40 million Pulse Data Centre — which FKG says is the first Tier III data centre in regional Australia.

“Early familiarisation of the technology with our customers is crucial to understand the opportunities that will open up as 5G becomes available more broadly, and we will be adding additional customers as the trial progresses,” Penn said.

In a statement, Gary Gardner, the executive chairperson of FKG Group, said: “It’s fantastic to working with Telstra and having the opportunity to test one of the first 5G devices in the country. Being at the forefront of this advanced technology will greatly assist FKG and its newly developed Aatlis Innovation Precinct to explore IoT use cases and pilot innovative solutions in the agriculture and food value chain.”

As expected, Telstra was the biggest spender in the government’s auction of spectrum in the 3.6GHz band — which will play a key role in the first wave of 5G services. Telstra spent $386 million on 143 lots in the auction. Optus and a joint venture between TPG and Vodafone also purchased spectrum, as did UK firm Dense Air.

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