Following in the footsteps of Samsung, Apple has released its first high-spectrum 5G smartphone, the iPhone 12. But only US customers will benefit.
High-spectrum 5G uses millimetre-wave frequencies in the 26GHz range (25.1GHz to 27.5GHz). But Australia’s mobile phone networks, although they can access the mid-range 5G spectrum, don’t have access to these high frequencies.
Unlike the US version, the iPhone 12 model for Australia lacks the distinct millimetre-wave antenna necessary to access them. In other words, Australians who purchase an iPhone 12 wouldn’t be able to access high-spectrum 5G even if it was available here.
This is another stark reminder of the effort needed to enable Australia’s “fourth industrial revolution”.
Not having high-spectrum 5G available for the public and businesses right now is a letdown and will set the country back as it struggles to recover from a recession.
How did we fall so far behind?
Using millimetre waves such as the 26GHz frequency range allows massive data transfer capacity over short distances.
Millimetre waves are what will help US iPhone 12 users reach speeds of up to 4Gbps (gigabits per second). The extra bandwidth will be especially useful in public spaces that require higher data capacity throughput, such as shopping centres and sports stadiums.
In the US, Samsung’s Galaxy S20+ and Galaxy S20 Ultra, launched in March, both support millimetre-wave frequencies. But telcos AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile had rolled out the network even before the millimetre wave 5G-capable smartphones were released.
Meanwhile, individual customers and businesses in Australia are still limited to 5G in the sub‑6 GHz range.
The higher-frequency 5G technology is currently only available in the US, but has also been assigned in Italy and Finland.
Several other countries are planning to upgrade soon, including Singapore, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. Local licenses are also available in the UK.
According to a European Commission report, 15 of the European Union member states, as well as the UK, have already completed at least one 26GHz spectrum auction. And at least one spectrum auction was…