Vodafone announcew first sites for its 5G network

Australia's third mobile operator Vodafone has confirmed it will roll out a 5G next year despite not knowing if the company will still exist in its current form.

Vodafone is awaiting a decision on its appeal against the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's blocking of a proposed $15 billion merger with rival telco TPG.

That decision is expected in February, and it had been thought Vodafone would wait until after that before making any announcements on its 5G future.

On Monday morning, however, Vodafone announced it would be partnering with Nokia to roll out its 5G network, with the first to be switched on at Parramatta “in the coming months”.

Vodafone CEO Iñaki Berroeta said the Nokia partnership was an “exciting milestone”.

“We have worked with Nokia for several years across different elements of our network. They presented a compelling road map that aligned with our 5G objectives and will help us to continue improving our 4G network to our customers. Their knowledge is extensive, and they are in the best position to ensure a seamless transition and that we reach our 5G goal as soon as possible while maintaining the best experience for our 4G customers,” he said.

Vodafone's 4G network made use of Huawei technology, and it's understood that had also been the plan for 5G before the Government banned the Chinese company from participating in the construction of new mobile networks in August last year, citing national security concerns.

TPG had also planned to use Huawei technology to construct its own mobile network, which would have been the nation's fourth, but gave up following the ban, claiming rival equipment was too expensive.

The telco's since-abandoned plans to build an alternative mobile phone network was the main reason the consumer watchdog poured cold water over the merger plans, believing that TPG still planned to build an alternative network, thereby increasing competition and giving more options to consumers.

TPG and Vodafone counter claimed that neither had the power to compete effectively with Telstra and Optus on their own, and so the best thing for consumers would be to allow them to combine and therefore strengthen their market power through the merger.

Vodafone lost $124.4 million last year and has already reported a loss of $153.4 million in the first half of this year.

The company still hasn't turned a profit since merging with Three 10 years ago.

Optus and Telstra have already begun rolling out their 5G networks using a mix of Nokia and Ericsson equipment, but Mr Berroeta doesn't think Vodafone has left it too late to get in the game.

Mr Berroeta said “now is the right time to start rolling out 5G” as more devices become available.

Have you already connected to 5G? Let us know what you think of the new technology in the comments below.

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