What’s the current state of play of 5g modems in Australia?

The thing that I want to do is just highlight first of all, that there are different shapes and flavors of 5g modems just as with the 4g modems in general. So I, for myself would say, there’s the obvious ones which is the network operator provided solutions, the carrier grade stuff. They’re the most important ones because they’re the first ones that come out and they’re the obvious ones that people can get their hands on. Link to spreadhseet

Telstra 5G Modems

First of all, if I look at Telstra. Telstra currently has formed what’s available on general opportunities, Wifi Pro it’s a compact ZTE MU500 dongle modem, looks like a bottle of soap. There’s the NightHawk, used to be the M5, but the NightHawk M5 is no longer available and the M6 is now being released as the alternative solution to that. And then there is the 5g home router as well which is the AW1000, I’m using that in the workshop as well. So first of all, on the wifi pro the ZTE MU500. The only thing we’ve learned is that we had trouble getting a 5g antenna working on the antenna port. The NightHawk M5, not available anymore so that’s an easy one. The NightHawk M6, we’re waiting for our new stock. Once we have that we’ll see exactly what we can get out of that device. I believe the external port should be 5g, but we’ll test that and make sure. On the 5g home router, the AW1000, that modem led me to a previous video where I specifically referred to do we know what exactly the two antenna ports are that’s being routed to the external ports? I don’t know. I don’t know for sure. Even if you look on the inside you see antennas and then you see a whole raft of antennas in there and I don’t know what the function is of the two antennas that the manufacturer decided to route to the external ports. So I’d be cautious at this point to assume that I plug in an external antenna and I’m gonna get phenomenally faster 5g speeds. Yes, you will get better reach in 4g. You are supposed to have that modem working in places that is not as good anymore because then you will get a better connection because the external antennas is helping you. But is it gonna help you on better 5g speeds? I haven’t seen that happen.

Optus 5G Modems

Now on Optus, the Nokia FastMile, that’s the one I’m using at home. That’s a great little unit. It actually has five separate sets of antennas available for the modem to use to select which one is it gonna use for the 5g connections. And you see when you boot it up, there’s LED on top there that actually is searching through each of those to make sure I’m getting the best connection before it establishes itself says, that’s the way that I’m going to work. Hence also my video where I recommended using a direction antenna because your modem only has a connection to one base station at any given time.

Vodafone 5G Modems

Then Vodafone I actually haven’t really spent a lot of time ’cause we don’t get a lot of inquiries for 5g and Vodafone. But now that I look at it, they actually released, at least globally, the Vodafone GigaCube. Now the Vodafone GigaCube is the Huawei CP Pro 5g. I have that one in my hand, I had it earlier as well because that’s been a while around for a while. As a 5G device, works well, no issues with it. Again, the external antenna, there’s two external antenna ports available. The two external antenna ports, if you look at it closely, seems not to be at a 5G antenna, it seems to be 4G specifically.

5G Antennas

To me it makes sense because if you think what’s the purpose of an external antenna, of course a lot of customers want faster speed, so connect an antenna ’cause I want faster internet. I get that, I understand why people would think like that but that’s not the purpose of an external antenna port from a lot of applications perspective, ’cause you want people to have a connection when the signal is weak. So the purpose of an antenna is often to get connections where things are actually poor, not to just get faster speeds, but it’s good or it’s better. That’s the state of play on the network operator modems at the moment. It’s gonna be a different story in three months time, I’m pretty sure of that. Now on the industrial level, and consumer level as well, there’s a few things brewing and I hope that we can have changes to what I’m about to say in the next three months as well. But in the industrial grade what you can currently see is available is devices such as that from Milesight, Pepwave, Comset, and CradlePoint.