Start of 2022 Update – Telstra’s, Vodafone’s, and Optus’ Australian 5G Coverage

Australian 5G Coverage

Vodafone – Australia’s 5G dark horse

The 5G story became a reality in Australia when both Telstra and Optus turned on their 5G networks in 2019. During that time, Vodafone and TPG were embroiled in a battle with the ACCC – the regulator opposed their $15 billion merger all the way to court, so the telcos fell far behind Telstra and Optus in the 5G race. 

However, last year, a federal judge approved that merger, and the newly formed TPG Telecom (Vodafone) finally launched their own 5G network to get in the race.

Today, 5G has come a long way in Australia. The roll out is still ongoing, but the Big 3 telcos are certainly making strides. The latest leap comes from TPG Telecom – after playing catch up to both Telstra and Optus for a while, TPG Telecom now boasts of a 5G network that covers 85 per cent of the population across 10 major cities, thanks to their new 5G Stand Alone (SA) core that tripled their coverage.

Now that we have a fair race between all three major telcos, we can make a much clearer comparison about their 5G coverage. We’ll do just that in this article, so read on to find out which 5G network is worth your money.

Mobile 5G plans from Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone

We’re now over 2 years into Australia’s 5G roll out, and all three of the major telcos now have mobile 5G plans available. Here’s a quick look at the mobile 5G plans available from Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone:

  • Telstra offers only three 5G plans, and they’re all on their new Upfront Mobile Plan lineup. They range from $65 and $115, and include 80GB to 180GB of 5G data.
  • Optus offers a total of nine 5G plans, and they include both prepaid and postpaid lineups. Prepaid customers can choose from four Optus Flex 5G plans, which include one daily plan (2GB 5G data), one weekly plan (14GB 5G data), one bi-weekly plan (28GB 5G data), and one 30-day expiry plan (60GB 5G data). If you’re interested in postpaid 5G plans, you can choose from five month-to-month Optus Plus Choice Plans, ranging from $45 to $115 per month, including 20GB to 500GB of 5G data.
  • Vodafone offers five 5G plans, all of which are postpaid plans. They range from $40 to $85, and include 40GB to unlimited 5G data. 

Wireless 5G home broadband plans from Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone

All three major telcos also offer 5G home Internet plans:

  • Telstra offers one month-to-month 5G home Internet plan with no lock-in contract, which costs $85 per month. It includes 1TB of 5G data, averaging 378Mbps download speeds during peak hours (7PM to 11PM), but you’ll typically get speeds between 50Mbps and 600Mbps.
  • Optus offers two month-to-month 5G home Internet plans with no lock-in contract. The 5G Internet Everyday plan costs $79 per month and includes unlimited data, capped at 100Mbps download speeds (83Mbps average during peak hours). The 5G Internet Entertainer plan costs $89 per month ($99 after 6 months) and includes unlimited data with no speed caps (210Mbps average during peak hours). Both plans include a 50Mbps download speed guarantee.
  • TPG Telecom (Vodafone) offers two month-to-month 5G home broadband plans with no lock-in contract. The Premium plan includes unlimited data at up to 100Mbps download speeds, and costs $69.99 per month. The Max plan costs $79.99 per month and includes unlimited data with no speed caps.

5G network coverage on Telstra, Optus, and TPG Telecom (Vodafone) plans

While there are a lot of 5G plans to choose from, they won’t live up to your expectations if you can’t get coverage. Thankfully, all three major networks have improved their coverage over the past year, and even more so recently.

Here’s a look at Australia’s 5G coverage from Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone:

  • Telstra’s 5G network currently covers 75 per cent of the Australian population. This is likely the widest 5G coverage in the country so far, expanding to 3,200 suburbs and over 200 cities and towns throughout Australia. Back in June, the telco announced that 1.5 million devices were on their 5G network, and thousands more join in every week.
  • Optus’ 5G network coverage is a bit harder to decipher because the telco hardly ever talks about its percentage figures. However, the telco’s 5G network can be accessed by over 700,000 households so far, and it has over 1,000 5G sites in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra.
  • Vodafone’s 5G network just expanded significantly. The telco recently announced an impressive leap, with its 5G network now covering 85 per cent of the population across 10 cities, including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Wollongong, and New South Wales Central Coast. TPG Telecom (Vodafone) was able to gain this nearly overnight expansion with their 5G Stand Alone core, which reduces latency by around 30 per cent, increases network capacity or bandwidth, and enables direct connections to 5G without having to build off a 4G network. To learn more about this technology, you can read about the differences between Stand Alone and Non-Stand Alone 5G. TPG Telecom also announced that it has over 1 million devices on its 5G network, and adds over 100 sites each month, with an expectation of adding/upgrading 160 sites this November.

Bottom Line

Australia’s 5G networks are rolling out faster and faster. TPG Telecom’s latest announcement of a sudden coverage boost to 85 per cent of 10 cities, is sure to increase the competition in the market. We expect to see even more 5G news in the coming months, making 2022 the year of true 5G.

But it’s important to decipher the plethora of information coming from telcos about their 5G networks. Keep in mind that each telco wants you as a customer, so each claim to be the best in all aspects. 

For instance, TPG Telecom (Vodafone) has claimed 85 per cent coverage of the population in 10 cities. When compared to Telstra’s 75 per cent coverage, TPG Telecom might appear to have the better reach. However, this isn’t the case – while TPG Telecom has improved 5G coverage significantly, the Vodafone 5G network is only available in 10 cities, and so that 85 per cent coverage only applies to those 10 cities. Telstra, on the other hand, has a 5G coverage of 75 per cent of the entire country’s population, giving their 5G network the widest reach in Australia right now.

Regardless, we are in for an interesting 2022. With 5G boosting technologies like Stand Alone 5G-core and mmWave 5G now in the works, the fifth generation mobile network technology will truly ascend in the coming months.

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.