5G Update November 2020: Where can you get fast data now?

Telstra’s 5G coverage grows

Telstra continues to lead the 5G race in Australia. The telco now has over 2,000 5G base stations and their 5G coverage is 41% of the population.

With the 5G rollout well under way, Telstra has made a series of announcements regarding its progress and future plans. However, Optus has made a lot of progress as well, so the 5G race is far from over.

In this article, we’ll discuss Telstra’s latest 5G updates, as well as Optus’ updates to help you figure out where you can get fast data now.

Telstra’s latest 5G updates

Telstra’s recent statement gives us a full picture of how far their 5G network has rolled out so far. Here’s a quick look:

  • Telstra currently has over 2,000 5G base stations
  • Their current 5G coverage is 41% of the population
  • Over 1,400 Australian suburbs currently have at least 50% 5G coverage
  • Over 12 million Australians live, work, or pass through Testra’s 5G coverage
  • The telco has improved in-building 5G coverage in several areas and buildings, including the Melbourne and Darling Harbour Convention Centers, Westfield Centrepoint, Bondi Junction, Macquarie Shopping Centre, Melbourne Central and more.

Telstra also has some ambitious plans for 5G in the coming year. They plan on improving their 5G coverage to 75% of the population by June of next year. Telstra also upgraded to Stand Alone 5G back in May, which means its 5G network is independent of 4G technology. As a result, the telco will be the only SA 5G-capable network when SA 5G devices begin to hit the market at the end of this year.

So where can you get Telstra 5G data?

Telstra has been rolling out 5G since May 2019, so they’ve had some time to really improve their footprint. With the current 41% coverage, there’s a good chance you might be in an area where Telstra’s 5G network is available.

Telstra announced that it rolled out 5G in parts of the following areas over the past few months:

  • Sunshine Coast in Queensland
  • New South Wales
  • Victoria
  • South Australia
  • Western Australia

But their coverage stretches beyond this areas, though. You can get 5G coverage in the following cities:

  • Canberra
  • Central Coast
  • Brisbane, Sidney
  • Cairns
  • Gold Coast
  • Adelaide
  • Hamilton
  • Melbourne
  • Perth, and more.

Optus’ latest 5G updates

While Telstra has made major strides with its 5G network, Optus has made progress as well. Optus recently announced that it has recorded 5G download speeds of 2.5Gbps, the fastest in the country so far.

For now, that ultra-fast 5G is only being tested, so Telstra still has the fastest 5G network in Australia for now.

Opensignal’s test

Opensignal’s test indicate Telstra 5G averages 231.8Mbps, while Optus’ 5G averages 170Mbps. src

However, because Optus’ 5G 2.5Gbps speed test was achieved on the mid-range spectrum that Optus 5G currently uses, you can expect those super fast speeds to become the norm very soon. The telco plans on rolling out this ultra-fast 5G throughout Australia, starting with 150 sites in Sydney and Melbourne by the end of November, giving Telstra some real competition.

Optus is also the first telco (and the only telco so far) to open its 5G network to Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO). Back in July, the telco made its fixed home wireless 5G service available to smaller telcos to resell to consumers. And this October, Optus also opened up its mobile 5G network to MVNOs.

With MVNOs now in the 5G loop thanks to Optus, many more Australians shoud be able to access 5G. Optus says it has turned on 920 5G sites in Australia so far, accessible to 650,000 homes, so MVNOs have an opportunity to have that same 5G coverage.

Final words

Australia’s 5G rollout is really taking shape. Telstra and Optus have made strides that align well with their schedules, and although Vodafone was occupied with its merger, the telco has now turned on its 5G network, but its coverage is still sparse.

Next year, the the ACMA will allocate 26GHz spectrum to the major telcos, popularly known as mmWave. This spectrum will unlock high sped 5G networks, and Telstra has already begun testing the technology, while Optus has plans to as well.

These signs point to 2021 being a great year for 5G plans in Australia. As telcos increase their coverage, the 5G footprint will continue to expand. And as more affordable 5G phones hit the market, more and more Australians will get a taste of super fast 5G speeds.

Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.