5G Speeds in Australia: Telstra Faster Than Optus

Telstra 5G

Testra 5G dominates Optus

Opensignal’s latest report on 5G speeds in Australia ranks Telstra ahead of Optus. Telstra’s 5G network averaged download speeds of 232Mbps, over 36% faster than Optus’ 170Mbps. The report is based on results from over 119,000 5G devices between May 1 and July 29.

Opensignal has awarded Telstra 5G

Opensignal has awarded Telstra 5G download speeds as the fastest in Australia. src

Telstra also holds the lead over Optus in their overall network speeds – including 3G and 4G. Optus, though, is slightly ahead of Telstra in 5G availability – that is, the amount of time Australians have access to 5G.

But overall, both telcos showed improvements in their 5G networks compared to a year ago. Opensignal applauds the improvements, considering how new 5G technology is in the country.

5G speeds are not yet impressive – 4G is faster in some cases

5G technology has been hyped for a while now, with common claims of the network being up to 10 times faster than 4G. However, current 5G plans won’t yield speeds anywhere close to the hype we’ve become accustomed to hearing.

This mostly has to do with the technology being notably young. In Australia, Telstra launched commercial 5G in May of last year. Optus launched its “Expression of Interest” campaign in January of last year to trial its 5G fixed home broadband with select customers, and then launched commercial 5G late 2019.

So far, 5G is yet to average anywhere close to 10 times 4G speeds. In fact, in some cases, 4G has hit faster speeds than 5G. Last year, for example, Opensignal reported that Australia was the only country where 4G maximum speeds were faster than 5G maximum speeds – 950Mbps compared to 792Mbps.

However, current 5G average speeds are now superior to 4G average speeds. The latest Opensignal report indicates that Telstra users have experienced average 5G speeds that are 4.6 times faster than average 4G speeds. Likewise, Optus users average 5G speeds are 3.9 times faster than their average 4G speeds.

Telstra vs Optus: 5G speeds availability

The Opensignal report focuses on 5G speeds and availability. Specifically the download speeds of both Telstra and Optus and the amount of time users were latched on to a 5G network. While Vodafone turned on its first 5G sites in Parramatta earlier this year, their network is entirely too young to include in the report.

So far, Telstra’s 5G network averaged almost 232Mbps download speeds. Compared to Optus’ 170Mbps, Telstra leads the way by almost 62Mbps. Telstra also leads in overall mobile network download speeds when including 3G and 4G, with 52.5Mbps compared to Optus’ 46.7Mbps.

 Opensignal’s tests Telstra 5G average

 Opensignal’s tests saw Telstra 5G average 231.8Mbps, compared to Optus’ 170Mbps. src

But both telcos have shown solid improvements. In fact, Telstra’s average 5G speeds have jumped from 157Mbps in May to its current average of 232Mbps. Optus’ current 170Mbps is also an improvement when compared to last year’s average of 100Mbps.

Both networks are neck in neck in 5G availability, but Optus is slightly ahead. Optus users were connected to a 5G signal 8.6% of the time, compared to 8.2% for Telstra users.

Recent updates on 5G rollout in Australia

As the 5G rollout continues over the coming years, both speeds and availability rates will increase. Mobile networks take years to hit their peak, and just as improvements in both speeds and availability have been evident between last year and this year, more improvements will be recorded in the next year and beyond.

Currently, all three of the major telcos are making progress with their respective 5G networks. Vodafone, having spent the past two years battling the ACCC over their proposed merger with TPG before finally winning in court, was only able to join the 5G race earlier this year.

Telstra and Optus, on the other hand, are well into their 5G rollout, but availability still remains low. One of the primary reasons for this is the coronavirus pandemic, which has kept Australians at home in residential areas, while the majority of live 5G sites are in the urban areas.

Despite the low availability rates so far, Telstra claims their 5G network coverage is already one third of the Australian population. They claim 210,000 5G service lines are already on Telstra, and have set a coverage goal of over 70% of the population by June of next year.

Both telcos have also announced some major technological improvements in their 5G networks. Earlier this year, Optus launched support for dual band 5G on both 2.3GHz and 3.5GHZ bands. Also earlier this year, Telstra announced support for StandAlone 5G.

Further, the ACMA will allocate 26GHz mmWave spectrum next year, which will lead to faster 5G speeds. The auction will limit telcos to 1GHz of spectrum to avoid any monopoly.

Final words

Telstra and Optus are on schedule with their 5G rollouts. While they haven’t recorded the much hyped 5G speeds we’ve come accustomed to hearing, current speeds are pretty good for this early stage of the 5G rollout.

As improvements are made and the rollout continues, 5G on all of Australia’s major telcos will eventually hit those much anticipated speeds. Availability will also improve much sooner than that as Australians begin venturing into urban areas where 5G networks are concentrated, as coronavirus prevention measures phase out.

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.