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In September, the Australian Communications and Media Authority proposed an acceleration of the process that would allow telecommunications companies to build 5G mobile networks.

The network could be operational within Australia by the end of the decade. Internet service will be 100 times faster than it is right now, with users able to download three episodes of a TV series in a single second. The 5G network will also offer lower latency (the time interval between when data is sent and received) than the 4G network.

The faster speeds will be crucial for the Internet of Things and by the time 5G is available, there will be more than 50 billion connected systems and devices worldwide, including sensors, household gadgets, and wearables. All of these things will benefit from the lower latency and greater availability of data.

Here are a few things Australians will look forward to on the 5G network:

Intelligent Cars
Whether we’re talking about cars equipped with AI to make cars smarter and safer, or cars that don’t require a driver at all, the amount of data these cars require make it imperative that the 5G network is on the way.

Virtual Reality
5G will be able to hand the intensive graphics seen in VR apps much better and more smoothly than 4G, simply because of the ability for gigabytes of data to be transmitted in seconds.

Artificial Intelligence
This is another example of how access to massive amounts of data will change the game for technology. Better data sharing between devices will enable AI apps and robots to continue to grow more intelligent and useful.

While this is great news for many industries, the telco industry will have a number of hoops to jump through before we’ll all be enjoying much faster internet speeds.

Experts have expressed concern about the potential health effects of the new network. Professor Dariusz Leszczynski believes Australians have a lack of understanding about the impact the radiation could have on health. The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency is also asking for Australia’s radiation safety standards to be reexamined and potentially changed before 5G is rolled out.

The higher speeds are possible by using many more base stations or antenna sites than currently in use today. This massive project will require a huge amount of power, but 5G will also enable a more dynamic power grid, capable of managing solar, wind, and other renewable sources.

South Korea is currently preparing a 5G network and is aiming for to be live for the Winter Olympics in 2018. At home, Telstra is planning a 5G trial for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. The company recently completed 5G radio testing and in the lab, download speeds greater than 20Gbps were delivered. That’s like downloading 4,000 HD movies at once.

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, 5G may challenge the adoption of the NBN. While almost half of the eligible 6.2 million businesses and households have switched to an NBN connection, 84% of them have only signed up to introductory plans with lower speeds between 12 and 25Mbps. Mobile 5G may be a more attractive prospect when it's ready in 2020, which is when construction on the NBN is expected to be finished.

20%of Australians already rely on mobile-only service, but this is expected to rise once 5G is available. The challenge will be whether telcos can offer large enough data quotas at comparable prices to fixed-line internet.

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