Vodafone launches 5G, wins merger with TPG
With Vodafone finally entering the 5G race officially, the Australian telco market is getting tighter. The telco recently announced that their first 5G site will be turned on “within weeks”, but have just made good on that promise sooner than expected by turning on 5G sites in Parramatta this morning. Vodafone plans to switch on 650 5G sites in all state capitals as the first stage of their rollout, and more sites will be turned on mid-year.
While Telstra and Optus got a head start on 5G, Vodafone coming late to the party may not be bad at all. The telco has had ample time to observe the 5G environment from the sidelines, and Optus and Telstra are yet to complete their rollout despite being a year ahead.
Vodafone also scored a victory when a federal court granted their merger with TPG, and the ACCC has just announced it won’t appeal that decision. The $15 billion merger gives the telco the resources needed to compete with the other major networks on 5G, making for a more leveled landscape that should give consumers some great deals when 5G is fully rolled out in Australia.
With all three major telcos now unveiling their 5G strategies, we now have a clearer picture of what their 5G plans are. Read on to find out everything we know about 5G plans from Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone.
Some recent 5G news about Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone
While Vodafone have recently gotten some good news with their TPG merger victory and first 5G launch, Telstra and Optus are in the news as well.
- As of last month, Telstra already had 100,000 5G devices on their network. Telstra’s Andy Penn recently stated that the telco’s 5G footprint already surrounds 5 million Australians. The telco has already seen a 28X increase in 5G data usage, and their 5G network has already rolled out in 32 major and regional cities, with the target for mid-year being for 35 cities to be 5G-ready. Telstra also plans to make use of 25GHz mmWave spectrum to launch a “supercharged” 5G hotspot mid-year, for even faster speeds and lower latency. The telco recently removed their top tier NBN 100Mbps plan in the midst of their 5G rollout, citing the failure of those NBN connections to reach their advertised speeds. This is major news, considering Telstra hold a 50% stake in the NBN market. This may indicate a 5G-dominant strategy for the telco moving forward, where the NBN will take the back seat.
- Optus successfully launched 2300MHz and 3500MHz dual band 5G network in Sydney, and has tagged Melbourne next. The telco is the first in the world to make use of the dual band approach that promises increased coverage and capacity. So far, Optus 5G is available to around 138,00 homes in Australia. The telco’s 5G home broadband averaged 100Mbps last year, and peaked at 295Mbps. Both speeds dwarf the NBN.
5G plans from Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone
With 5G still rolling out, the available plans aren’t that many. MVNOs don’t have any share in the 5G market yet, leaving the three major telcos with sole control. This will eventually change when the rollout is complete, and Optus has already averred to selling their 5G networks to MVNOs in the future.
Telstra 5G plans:
- 5G phone plans
You can access Telstra’s 5G network on any of their four postpaid month-to-month plans ranging from $50 to $100 with 15GB to 100GB of data, provided your area has 5G coverage. You’ll get free access to 5G on all plans, but that only lasts until Jun 30 for their Small and Medium plans – you’ll have to pay an additional $15 per month if you want to continue using 5G on those plans.
- 5G mobile broadband plans
Telstra also offer four mobile broadband plans ranging from $15 to $75 with 5GB to 100GB of data, and you’ll get access to their 5G network if your area has coverage. This 5G access is also free across all four plans, but the Extra Small and Small plans are only free until June 30, after which you’ll need an additional $15 per month or get downgraded to 4G. You’ll need a 5G mobile broadband device to make use of this plan, and Telstra sell the 5G HTC Hub for $11.33 per month over 36 months, or $17 per month over 24 months (minimum cost is $407.88 and $408 respectively).
Optus 5G plans:
- 5G phone plans
Optus haven’t indicated any additional cost for 5G coverage on smartphones, and they’ve rolled out some compatible handsets. The Samsung Galaxy S20 5G is also available for pre-order.
- 5G fixed wireless broadband plan
Optus main 5G focus so far has been their fixed home broadband, which gives you the option of either month-to-month or a 24-month contract plan. Both plans come with a free Nokia 5G modem, guaranteed minimum speeds of 50Mbps, and cost $70 per month for unlimited 5G data with no caps. The difference is that the contract plan doesn’t come with any start-up fees, while the month-to-month plan charges a $200 startup fee.
Vodafone 5G plans:
- 5G phone/broadband plan
Vodafone will not charge extra for 5G, and you won’t need to switch your current plans to use their 5G network. The telco also begins selling the 5G-capable range of Samsung Galaxy S20, phones tomorrow, so you can start using their 5G network with that device if you’re in the Parramatta area.
Australia is now well into the 5G journey with all three major telcos now offering 5G to some extent. While Telstra and Optus have been live with 5G since last year, Vodafone has now launched their first 5G sites and is moving full steam ahead to catch up. As far as the best 5G plans go, it’s best to make that decision when all three telcos have rolled out their networks to vast coverage areas. So far, though, Telstra is alone with their plans to charge extra for 5G phone plans – both Optus and Vodafone haven’t committed to any additional charge yet.