Best Mobile Phone Coverage in Australia

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Best Mobile Phone Coverage in Australia

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99.3% Population covered
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98.6% Population covered
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96.0% Population covered
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How to get great network coverage at a better price

 

How to get better value plans

 

To get great value plans from your preferred phone network, choose a phone plan from a network reseller. They use the main networks:  And offer excellent value plans and service. Best of all, there are no long contracts, use as much or as little as you like.

With resellers you get the same network and great value plans and no lock in contracts

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Top value plans by network

Recommended Plans on the major networks

 

There are the only 3 mobile network providers in Australia. Each owns their own network. In the telecommunications industry, the big 3 are known as tier 1 telcos. All of the major phone companies are making significant, multi billion dollar investments in their networks to improve coverage and provide the latest data ( 4G ) services to their customers. The tier 1 telcos spend billions building and maintaining their networks.

In addition to maintenance, every few years, a new generation of network technology comes out. Originally, GSM was rolled out. That was upgraded with GPRS. That was followed by 3G data, then 4G data. Starting late in 2014 with trials that commenced in July, new 700 MHz spectrum is being trialed by Optus and Telstra which will double 4G speeds and improve in building reception. This constant attention to network provision and upgrade costs these companies a lot of money. In 2015, attention turned to increasing the proportion of population covered by 4G network and improving the speeds it was possible to get on the latest handset data downloads.

 

Phone companies who rent network access are called MVNOs

There are other companies which use the tier 1 Telco’s networks. These phone companies are known as MVNOs or Mobile Virtual Network Operators. They often use exactly the same networks as Vodafone and Optus customers receive. One of the secrets of Australia’s MVNOs, however, is that they do not charge anything like the tier 1 telcos for their services. Remember, MVNOs typically offer SIM Only plans. Using them can save you a fortune without requiring that you compromise interest in the network you choose. Here are some examples.

Boost Mobile | Best Prepaid Data Rates On Telstra

boost mobile logo

Prepaid | 28 day expiry | On The Telstra Mobile Network 3G+4G

Boost Mobile are a reliable and long standing brand with some great prepaid offers. With Boost you’ll get:

  • Free streamed audio:
    Data free streaming of Apple Music (requires subscription) on top of the data included in your plan.
  • A range that includes 7 day and 28 day plans:
    Boost offer a selection of plans including 7 and 28 day variants.
  • Recharge options from $10 to $50:
    Boost have a total of 5 recharge options for their prepaid plans, ranging between $10 and $50.

Boost Mobile Plans For Your Mobile

All talk time and SMS for use in Australia to Australian numbers. All data is for use in Australia. You can learn more about this company in our Boost Mobile review.

CHECK  BOOST MOBILE PLANS

 

Belong Mobile | Fariest For Data

Belong Mobile

Postpaid | Month to Month agreement | On The Telstra Mobile Network 3G+4G

Belong sell access to the Telstra Mobile Network. They have a simple to understand plan structure with options on data, national ($5 extra) and international calls ($5 extra.) Belong also offer the fairest treatment of data that any phone company in Australia have. a ‘data vault’ feature. Whatever data you buy, is yours, forever. It just keeps rolling over until you use it or leave them.

With Belong, you’ll get:

  • Data Vault:
    All Belong’s Mobile plans come with ‘data vault’. When you buy your data, it just keeps rolling over until you decide to use it or leave them!
  • $5 National Calls:
    Belong’s price plans are data first. If you want to add Unlimited Australian National calls, it’ll cost you $5 a month, on top of the price of your data.
  • $10 International Calls:
    And if you want to make Unlimited International Calls (to 10 selected destinations – or to 23 selected countries’ landlines) just add $10.

Belong Plans For Your Mobile

  • Belong Mobile $30 = Unlimited National Calls & SMS + 15GB of 4G data (5GB plus 10GB welcome gift).
  • Belong Mobile $35 = Unlimited National Calls & SMS + 15GB of 4G data (5GB plus 10GB welcome gift).
  • Belong Mobile $45 = Unlimited National Calls & SMS + 40GB of 4G data (15GB plus 30GB welcome gift).
  • Belong Mobile $50 = Unlimited National Calls & SMS + 45GB of 4G data (15GB plus 30GB welcome gift).

All talk time and SMS for use in Australia to Australian numbers. All data is for use in Australia. You can learn more about this company in our Belong Mobile review.

CHECK BELONG MOBILE SIM PLANS

 

Kogan Mobile – Best Value on the Vodafone Network

120px-Kogan-logo_wiki

Prepaid | 30 day expiry | On the Full Vodafone 3G and 4G Network 

Kogan Mobile keep it simple. They have some of the most competitive SIM Only / Prepaid plans in Australia, on the much improved Vodafone network. With their multi month recharge options, Kogan add some genuine value and choice to the market.

With Kogan, you’ll get

  • Monthly, quarterly or annual options : Do you want a single recharge payment with a 1, 3 or 12 month validity ? With Kogan, you’ll get discounts for multi-month purchases you were going to make anyway. They add the convenience of less frequent running out / topping up. And they keep the total predictability and flexibility of prepaid.

Kogan’s 30 day plan range :

Kogan’s 30 day plans all have Unlimited talk and SMS in Australia to Australian numbers. The difference is the amount of data which is included.

 

All talk time and SMS for use in Australia to Australian numbers. All data is for use in Australia. See all Kogan Plans including 90 day and 365 day plans. You can find out more about this company in our Kogan Mobile review.

CHECK  KOGAN MOBILE PLANS

 

Great Value Data & Best For International Calls

Prepaid | 30 day expiry | On the Full Vodafone 3G and 4G Network 

If you’re after an unlimited plan with incredible data inclusions, or you make calls overseas, in our view, you need look no further than Lebara. Lebara use the much improved Vodafone 3G + 4G network which covers more than 96% of Australians. With Lebara, you’ll get :

  • Big Data on the Vodafone 3G + 4G network:
    Lebara’s plans include enough data for even the most ravenous data eaters.
  • Broad Range Including Plans With International Calls:
    Lebara have Unlimited International Call plans at $29.90 and $49.90 price points. Lebara’s cheaper international call rates cover all the major destinations including : UK, USA, Greece, China, Canada, Germany, Denmark, France, South Korea and Switzerland. (Inclusions vary, see our review.)
  • Multi-Month-Options:
    Lebara have 30 day plans, 180 day plans and 360 day plans. Buy up-front and save.

Lebara’s prepaid plan range:

You can find out more about this company in our full Lebara Review.

CHECK LEBARA MOBILE PLANS

 

 

 

 

 

OVO Mobile – Free Video & Radio Content

Prepaid | 30 day expiry | On the Full Optus 3G and 4G Network 

OVO’s offer a totally new way of looking at a phone company – they’re one of our best selling partners. Their plans are, pretty much on a par for data inclusions with the best in the industry. In addition to talk time, SMS and data, OVO’s plans include exclusive access to exclusive video content. All of OVO’s plans come with ‘OVO Play’ an app which lets you watch their free content on your plan. With OVO, you’ll get:

  • Free Video Content – Motorsport, Sailing, Gymnastics & Water Polo :
    OVO offer a growing list of free video and audio content. Motorsport fans might like the 400 Thunder Professional Drag Racing Series, Australian GT, Formula Drift and other petrol head live streaming. OVO Play also includes other sports like sailing and gymnastics. The price of the content is included in the monthly line rental charge you pay OVO for your prepaid plan. So, importantly: You won’t see your data balance decline while you’re watching them, the streamed content is free.
  • Free Streamed Audio:
    OVO’s plans also offer FREE radio streaming, also included in your plan offers access to the Tripple M network and other selected stations.
  • OVO for Kids:
    OVO’s plans come with the offer of free access to Parental Lock software. Buy your child the $9.95 plan from OVO and you’ll be able to monitor what they access on their phone and set times for it to turn off and turn on it’s own connection to the internet.

OVO Plans for your mobile

Picking an OVO plan is simple. All of OVO’s plans include Unlimited talk and SMS in Australia to Australian numbers plus superfast 4G data.

You can learn more about them and their unique content in our OVO review.

CHECK  OVO MOBILE SIM PLANS

 

Strong, Simple Plans & A Well Known Brand

amaysim logo

Amaysim plans can be bought either Prepaid or Postpaid
On The Optus Mobile Network 3G+4G

Amaysim are the 4th biggest phone company in Australia with over 1m customers. They consistently have one of the highest customer satisfaction ratings in the industry and have a plan range which you can buy as either prepaid (28 day expiry) or postpaid – just select the option you want in their checkout. With Amaysim, you’ll get:

  • Strong plan range:
    Amaysim have a range starting at $10 per month and rising to $50 per month. Data inclusions are up there with the best available and, with Amaysim, things are nice and simple. You’re just buying voice calls, SMS and data. There are no optional extras.
  • New International Inclusions:
    Any plan you buy, starting at $30 per month will now include free International Calls to 12 destinations.
  • Great Customer Experience:
    Amaysim are consistently one of the best performing phone companies when it comes to customer satisfaction.

Amaysim’s plan range:

You can find out more about this company in our Amaysim review.

CHECK  AMAYSIM PLANS

 

 

In depth information on Telstra's Optus' and Vodafone's network

We’ve comprised all the information you need on the Major Australian networks and provide it here, all in one place.

Australian Network Coverage

There are a variety of credible ( independent ) information sources available to establish which phone companies offer the best network coverage in Australia. We try to reference as many as possible here to assist your decision. 40% of Australians say they are likely to change network in the next year. Coverage is a key factor in that decision making process.

Potentially the most important report about phone companies in 5 years, a recent ‘Open Source’ white paper revealed some surprising news. In major metro areas, Vodafone had the best 4G coverage and the best 4G speeds. Complaints to the TIO about Vodafone – the Telecommunications ombudsman halved between 2014 and 2015. These are just a few of the facts showing that the Vodafone network has improved substantially since it’s bad days.

And, when you include the other elements of the service you’re offered by your phone company, it gets interesting. Looking at customer service and overall customer satisfaction from Australian phone companies, Telstra’s is on a par with Vodafone. So, Telstra do have the best network but the research says they may well not be the best phone company for you.

 

Recent changes in Australian 4G Coverage

Low frequencies like 700 MHz or 850 MHz improve in building coverage and reach in to the bush. Remember, not all phones have access to frequencies like Optus and Telstra’s 700 MHz.

Entering late 2015, the competition between the major networks for 4G coverage and speed is taking an interesting twist. Each player is now attempting to make the best use of their frequency investments to improve both the number of square kilometers they cover and their in building network penetration.

Vodafone is reusing it’s 850 MHz frequency. Telstra is deploying their new 700 MHz frequency. Each of these spectrum facilities is enabled by the closing down of Australia’s Analogue TV networks last year.

Additionally, you will have seen mention of the rollout of ‘double fast’ 4G networks using either TDD or FDD technology. This is sometimes called carrier aggregation. These represent the start of national coverage at even faster speeds than the 4G that some people have already started to use. Meanwhile, Vodafone have moved to a full IP network infrastructure and introduced VoLTE. We cover each of these points in the operator specific section, below.

June 2017 : The key elements of Optus’ $1bn 2017 / 2018 AUD network investment

Optus recently announced they intend to spend $1bn between June 2017 and June 2018 improving the number of towers and quality of their networks in those areas.

  • Ultimately, this will leave Optus with 7000 base stations. (Compared to Telstra’s 8600.)
  • The new investments could affect up to 2.8 million Australians living on the fringes of Optus’ existing coverage footprint.
  • Will provide 4G capacity to 200 existing sites across the country over the year ahead, 1800 of Optus’ existing 3G sites will be upgraded to 4G.
  • The money will produce a total of 500 new base stations.
  • That includes 114 new base stations under the government’s blackspot program.
  • Will affect regional Australia and city dwellers traveling there.
  • This is Optus’ biggest capital expense in the 25-year history of the company.

Will affect Smaller phone companies :

There are a large number of smaller phone companies ( also known as MVNOs ) which use the Optus network. Those companies and their customers will benefit too. If you’re thinking of taking a plan from OVO Mobile, Moose Mobile or Yomojo, your network just got bigger, too. Each has unfettered access to whatever speeds and coverage Optus provides its ‘retail’ (those who bought from Optus direct) customers.

However, It’s not just about $1bn :

Telstra started with an advantage when it came to coverage when the government span them off as a private telco a while ago. Then they spend $billions to maximize it when their 3G network launched. Since then, for decades, they have outspent Optus on base stations and coverage. Becoming a head to head competitor will involve Optus spending more than $1bn in order to catch up.

That said, a recent report showed that Telstra charges $15 per month more than other carriers because their marketing has convinced everyone their network is better. Over time, Optus new network capability is likely to erode that advantage.

Read more: Optus’ Mid 2017 $1bn Network Investment

Telstra do have the best network coverage in the bush

Telstra 3G network coverage

In addition to the information contained in the info-graphics on this page – key facts about Telstra include :

  • Telstra Cover 2.4 million square miles of Australia
    • Telstra’s 3G coverage includes 60% of the Australian bush.
    • That’s around twice as much of Australia as some of the alternatives.
    • Telstra’s network coverage represents 30.6% of the Australian landmass.
  • Telstra Subscriber stats :
    • Have 16.4 million mobile network customers.
    • Market share : 39.9%
  • Spending $2 – $3 bn per year on network improvements at the moment.

Telstra’s 4G network coverage

  • The truth is that Vodafone now match Telstra for 4G signal coverage. Vodafone customers receive a 4G signal 76% of the time , Telstra customers receive a 4G signal 77% of the time
  • Telstra have 7.7 million 4G customers
  • Telstra cover 99% of the Australian population
  • Offer the fastest 4G network coverage in the world according to a recent survey.
    Telstra topped the charts in a recent 4G service survey with 64% availability and speeds of 24.5 Mbps 58% of the time. We beat South Korea !
  • Telstra’s 4G network was also tested in the recent Opensource report.
    • Telstra customers were in 4G signal for 77% of the time
    • And, when they were in coverage, they received speeds of 37.82 Mbp
    • ( Where streaming High Definition video takes approximately 5 Mbps, and streaming Ultra High Definition 4K video requires approximately 25 Mbps )

It was back in 2008 that Telstra took the remarkable steps it did, to invest in it’s network and differentiate itself with that attribute. In many ways, it was the genius of the CEO at the time, Sol Trujillo who insisted that the Telstra ‘Next G’ network would be the best in Australia and was prepared to spend the money required to make that happen.

Telstra are ahead in their network performance and are spending more on improving it than the competition. The AFR report that Telstra is spending ‘unprecedented amounts’ on network investment. And it’s paying off. Since mid 2011, they have grown the number of customers on their network by the better part of 1m customers. Telstra now have more than 15 million mobile phone customers on their network.

Cleverly, Telstra have kept their 4G network to themselves. They sell 3G services to providers including Boost and Cmobile. However, they save their 4G network for their own customers.

Together, these steps enable Telstra to charge a premium for their network services. Their price plans are routinely $10 – $15 per month more expensive than the other networks. This poses a couple of natural questions.

  • Do you live in a bushland area where you will use the edge in network coverage that Telstra has ?
  • Is that benefit worth putting up with their bad customer service and high prices for ?

Telstra’s 4G network coverage

4G or LTE networks are cheaper to operate once established and offer more efficient use of the wireless frequencies the phone companies have bought access to. To you, that means a 4G phone will give you a better network experience.

Telstra started rolling out their 4G services in November 2011, long, long before the other Australian phone companies. By mid 2013, they covered 66% of the Australian population. Their target was to cover 85% by the end of the 2013 calendar year and they hit that milestone. In fact, they completed it a week early. They now cover 99% of the Australian population of the Australian population with a 4G signal and are targeting 99% coverage by 2017.

Telstra paid $1.3bn for access to the 700 MHz frequency in May 2012.

In a way which is similar to some of their main rivals but on a slightly larger scale, Telstra are rolling 4G coverage out in 6 cities as part of their 700 MHz commercial trial. Telstra have also been granted the license for this by the ACMA. Telstra’s trials will commence in Griffith, Mildura, Perth, Freemantle, Mt Isa and Esperance.

And, again, like some of their competitors, Telstra are playing with double speed LTE / 4G. Telstra have some places already in Australia where the double fast 4G service is already available. Confusingly, Telstra do this under a different name : 4GX or 4GEXTREME, although the technology employed is very similar to others capabilities and trials.

Finally, Teltra impressed all those watching in 2015 with the rollout of their national WiFi network. Back in July 2015, Telstra released 4000 WiFi hotspots nationally. This project will deliver faster speeds for those who use WiFi rather than Telstra’s cellular network by splitting the traffic between both fixed and cellular connections. It provides an easier way to scale to the rapidly rising growth of data on their network. It also provides a solution which ties Telstra broadband customers ( who can use the national WiFi network hotspots for free so long as they share their own with the public ) in to Telstra’s fixed and mobile services for longer. Telstra’s scheme is not unique in the world. It follows well trodden paths in the UK and USA. However, strategically, it’s brilliant and the national rollout of the initial batch of 4000 hotspots was done at light speed ( considering it was Telstra managing it. )

Telstra’s ‘Air’ Network

Telstra have a second string to their bow when it comes to Australian network facilities. The canny telco has made the most of it’s national Pay Phone infrastructure to create a network of WiFi coverage which now offers an impressive number of WiFi Hotspots.

Telstra is provided nearly $50m a year by the Australian government for payphones. The payment is made as part of a much larger bounty, from which Telstra benefits, in exchange for which, they provide Australians with as much network coverage as is possible. In the Industry, the payment is known as the Universal Services Agreement and it has been around for a long time. Perhaps obviously, other tier 1 providers see this as an extremely unfair form of competition. More broadly, the discussion prompts some to consider whether Australia needs 3 national networks at all.

In the meantime, Telstra customers are often offered ‘Free WiFi’ at Telstra Air Hotspots around the country and it’s a useful facility. Originally, in 2014, there were only 4000 of these hotspots. The network has grown, however and there are now, in total, around 650k of these hotspots – a simply enormous number. Telstra offers network coverage for free to non customers too although users would be wise to be cognoscente of the ramifications. Telstra recently started gathering and using data of this sort to target adverts.

 

What about Vodafone’s network ?

Vodafone’s 3G network

  • Vodafone’s 3G network covers 96.00 % of the Australian population
    • They cover 0.5 square Kms of Australia with a 3G signal
  • Vodafone have 5.3 million mobile network customers.
  • Market share : 39.9%
  • Focus of network improvements :
    • According to the newly appointed CEO of Vodafone Australia, the network is focused on acquiring customers with above average data requirements.
    • Vodafone say they are spending around $1bn each year on network improvements.
  • Vodafone’s publically stated 4G information is sparse
    • Although they have said they cover 96.00 %

Vodafone 4G Network Coverage

  • The truth is that Vodafone now match Telstra for 4G signal coverage. Vodafone customers receive a 4G signal 76% of the time , Telstra customers receive a 4G signal 77% of the time
  • Vodafone have more than 2.0 million 4G customers
    • That’s huge, given they launched their network more than a year after their rivals.
  • OpenSignal showed Vodafone had the best 4G network coverage & speed in Sydney in January 2014.
    • Had first month of adding customers to their network since 2010, at the start of 2014, demonstrating the turn around in their network performance.
    • If you’d like more information, you can see our infographic on that report.
  • And, in a more recent OpenSignal report, Vodafone’s 4G network did well
    • Vodafone customers were in 4G signal for 76% of the time
    • And, when they were in coverage, they received speeds of 35.11 Mbp
    • ( Where streaming High Definition video takes approximately 5 Mbps, and streaming Ultra High Definition 4K video requires approximately 25 Mbps )

In a nutshell, Vodafone had so much ground to recover on network and network perception that they’re focusing on the cities first. As you will have seen on this page, in many major Australian cities, Vodafone already claim the fastest 4G networks. They’re improving that with their 850 MHz frequency. It’ll deliver an immediate benefit to their existing customers. Incredibly, Vodafone’s network investments have turned the reality around. They now match Telstra for practical 4G coverage.

Vodafone have held access to the 850 MHz frequency for some time and are only now, in late 2014, redeploying the asset. Using their 850 MHz frequency, Vodafone expect their 4G to cover 95% of the metropolitan area by the end of 2014.

There is a very real difference to consumers in all of this. The majority of existing smartphones can use Vodafone’s 850 MHz frequency. The same is not true for handsets sold by others. No phones from Apple, Sony or Nokia will work on the new 700 MHz frequency that the two bigger rivals are offering. ( Some phones from HTC – e.g. the HTC One M8, Samsung including the Galaxy S5, and LG including the G3 will work. ) If you want the benefits of better in building coverage and better bush coverage.

Vodafone’s network improvements are paying off for new customers. The ‘Vodafail’ tag they received in 2010 is finally leaving them following one of the biggest corporate turnarounds in Australian history. The good thing is they know it and they’re working on the problem. Bill Morrow, the ( now ex ) CEO of Vodafone recently changed the company’s internal focus away from numbers and focused staff on the emotional aspects of their relationships with customers.

Vodafone have not yet invested in a national WiFi network in the same way Telstra have. Neither has Vodafone yet released a WiFi calling app like Optus has. What they have done, however, is invest nearly a year in migrating their entire network to its core IP network. This investment will underpin Vodafone pushing further beyond their 96% current coverage capability to provide more coverage to more people. It will also provide easier access to VoLTE ( Voice Over LTE – a way of sending your voice call over the IP network for quicker connection and better call quality ) as well as other IP based services.

Comparing Complaints About The Networks

Vodafone have undertaken a huge network investment since the peak of their problems. They’ve recently spent $1.7 bn on network improvements. The sum of these improvements have reduced customer complaints to the TIO, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman ( that’s the last line of frustration for Australian consumers to complain to ) by 50%. Complaints about the quality of Vodafone’s service are now in line with the other major phone companies in Australia.

Complaints to the ( per 10,000 SIOs -Services in Operation, Source, TIO )
VodafoneOptusTelstra
Complaints to the TIO Jan - Mar 2014 ( per 10,000 SIOs )19.35.47.1
Complaints to the TIO Jan - Mar 2015 ( per 10,000 SIOs )8.67.36.9

Vodafone’s network focus seems to be working in a variety of ways. NPS, a measure of customer satisfaction, for customers who joined Vodafone since 2012 is much better than customers who were with them during the worst of their network problems. Before the iPhone crashed the Vodafone network, their NPS was an industry leading +18. At its worst, Vodafone’s NPS fell to -11. For customers who joined since 2012, NPS is positive – which means people would actually recommend the Vodafone network.

Vodafone is a huge international brand and they’re taking a responsible approach to accepting new customers. They check coverage in your area for you and if it’s not good enough where you live and work, they recommend you go to another network. Perhaps that’s why they’re now prepared to offer the Vodafone Network Guarantee.

Overall satisfaction & the best network in Australia

Every month Canstar Blue publish their survey of a number of indicators as to phone company performance. Recently, it uncovered some interesting findings. All the major phone companies have exactly the same level of overall customer satisfaction.

Phone company in Australia - Best Customer Service

 

Phone company network comparisons

Australian phone buyers have to make trade offs. They have to decide what the best combination is for them of price / network / service.

  • In the bush, Telstra have the best network. They cover 60% of bushland areas with their 3G network. If you want the best pricing on the Telstra network, we recommend Cmobile and Boost.
  • In metro areas, Vodafone are just as strong, if not stronger than Telstra. And, as the recent Open Source report shows, Vodafone has better network coverage and speeds on it’s 4G network in Sydney. Vodafone also now matches Telstra for 4G coverage around Australia.

 

Network coverage complaint levels

The ‘regulator’ is the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman or TIO. With the reduction in complaints about both international roaming rates and excessive data charges, as a result of positive improvements the phone companies have made to the way they charge, complaints are substantially down.

This chart represents the same thing, of course, backward looking. Canstar blue rate overall customer satisfaction as equal across all the major phone companies.

Phone Company - Best Customer Satisfaction

 

Determining who has the best network in Australia is not nearly as simple as it was. The gap between the best and the worst Australian network was never nearly as big as people think it is. And now, Vodafone are the best in metro areas. In the bush, Telstra is the safest bet.

The choice on which is more important ( cost or a small network quality improvement ) is a very personal decision. This article is designed to help you weigh up the elements of the trade off which are most important to you. Our suggestion is that, in many cases, especially if you need a 3G SIM, you can get a better deal on whichever network you want access to by choosing an MVNO.

What’s next for Australian network coverage ?

For the average user, the 4G networks of all 4 of the top Australian carriers can be considered of roughly equal speed in my view.

Some users receive peak speeds which might be higher here and there and those tend to be what’s reported. There are a variety of factors influencing how fast the data will come down to your phone including how many times you’ve dropped it ( did you damage the aerial ? ), how far you are from the nearest base station, how many other users there are on that network at the same time ?

Industry analysts say that 5G – the next network, beyond 4G, is just around the corner. Scheduled for the 2020s, 5G is already being worked on by the consortium of industry specialists which delivered 4G. 5G is likely to deliver more of the same sorts of improvements that 4G did.

  • Lower latency speeds :
    The time to get the response to your query – whether it’s a search or a request to begin a file download will be even faster than you’re already used to.
  • Efficiency :
    The move towards the Internet Of Things where everything from your watch, to your phone to your child and your car are all connected to the internet is going to require the ability to support more network connected devices, including phones. This will require more efficiency from the 5G network.
  • Higher speeds :
    4G speeds are staggering to most people. They’re analogous with your hme broadband fixed line connection. 6 years from now, they could be an order of magnitude faster again.

We also have in depth phone company comparisons

Network decision / price may be the most important aspect of your decision today. However, there is, of course, more to choosing a phone company than the network component. We have reviewed each of the major Australian Phone companies in depth, covering everything from how they treat their customers, to special offers and unique elements of their plans. You can access the comparison articles by reading ‘Australian phone company reviews’

COMPARE SIM ONLY PLANS IN AUSTRALIA

5G In Australia – Closer than you might think

Each of the major phone companies agree that 2020 is the year they will launch their 5G phone services.

The vast majority of Australians have smart mobile phones these days. But even the earliest adopters of phone technology have only had 4G data speeds in their phone for 4 years. As we covered above, Telstra was first to launch. Vodafone came to market with 4G much, much later, in 2014. Even so, the major phone companies have already started making promises about 5G. Each of the major phone companies agree that 2020 is the year they will launch their 5G phone services.

What 5G means to you?

5G appears to be a different, more considered technology evolution than those that preceeded it. The essence of the move from 2G ( GPRS ) to 3G and then 3G to 4G was simply giving you faster data speeds. The data throughput they offered was often many times the facility of their predecessors. It became possible with 2G to download webpages, albeit slowly. 3G gave us stuttering or poor resolution video. 4G provided superfast video.

It is, perhaps, noticeable that really, these were the only benefits people were provided. For all it’s marketing machismo, the telco industry really only said ‘IT’S FAST!’ They said it a lot of different ways but that’s all they said.

5G will be deployed in to a disrupted world. Now, the internet is being used for applications that require more than just a fast dumb pipe:

  • Low power :
    The Internet Of Things has become a reality, connecting things to the internet like Coke Machines and cars that previously never were. These devices can be extremely small and may not be large enough to support substantial batteries. 5G is being designed to operate in a way which provides as much data throughput ( speed ) as is possible without requiring too much from devices’ batteries.
  • Prioritized traffic :
    5G will be in use when driver less cars are on the roads. Updating it’s own position and sharing information with other driver less vehicles might mean a requirement to secure very fast access to the internet. Similarly, emergency services around the world ( notably the UK ) which previously ran their own network to arrange police and ambulance attendance very obviously need to have prioritized access to the information they need. 5G is likely to have prioritized access for different types of user. The police and emergency services will be at the top of the list coke machines at the bottom.
  • Faster downloads :
    Data speeds are staggering on 5G. You will be able to access extremely high quality data in quantities which will allow you to completely download an entire film in seconds. It’s more likely we will download movies and video clips than stream them because it’ll be so fast and easy and it will improve the experience of watching them.
  • Faster streaming :
    For applications such as video discussions with friends and family and telecommuting, you can expect high quality transmission and uninterrupted service. Again, it is likely that this sort of use will be prioritized. Expectations of latency ( delays ) in one on one communication are high. We become frustrated if we have to wait a few seconds to get a response from a person in a conversation. This sort of communication is likely to be assigned a higher priority over a 5G network than, say, a coke machine making a request to be restocked.
  • More efficient :
    As we’ve said, there are going to be more things attached to the internet. Most estimates put the number of connected devices at around 15 bn. By 2020 there could be 50 billion. In technical terms, the requirements that are passed on to 5G are to be more efficient. 5G needs to use no more spectrum than was previously afforded 4G but to deal with more than 3 times as many connected users.

5G from Vodafone

Little is really known, beyond the conceptual capabilities, constraints and considerations in building a 5G network. Vodafone often benefit from their international scale by being invited to contribute to the definition of standards in the industry. Although it’s hard to believe it now, in Australia, globally, Vodafone built some beautiful 3G networks which set the standard.

Their network team and CEO have talked about 5G but have not yet said anything edifying.

5G from Telstra

Mike Write, in charge of networks for Telstra has talked publically in very high level terms of the advantages we have outlined here.

“We’ve always been very aggressive in adopting new technology because it’s more efficient and we can show clearly it’s a lower cost to deliver more [data], customers get the latest technology and they get a better experience,”

Experience, brand and the deep pockets of Big T suggest they will go large, early, and cover a lot of Australia when they deploy 5G.

 

Summing up 5G

Who would be a phone company ? A few short years after spending billions of dollars covering Australia’s largest continent with 2G, they rolled out 3G. Then 4G. Now 5G.

Whether we as consumers realise it or not, these network evolutions are substantial changes. They act as a backbone facility for technologies which couldn’t exist without them. When more than half of all searches and webpage views are on phones, it’s hard to imagine that YouTube or Pandora be as successful without the facility to operate on mobiles or that Google Maps would be as useful.

Albeit subtly, our already very high expectations will be raised further by 5G. At the moment, when we click a link, choose an option or decide to download a page on the internet, we expect to wait a few seconds.

5G will land in a 2020 Australia which is becoming used to fiber optic data speeds from the NBN. We’ll be used to internet interactions without delay. Everything online, whether you’re at home, outside or in the car, will become instantaneous.

We already live in a world with an expectation of immediate gratification. Add in the subconscious belief that every request you make will receive an instantaneous response ( along with the associated frustration you’ll have when it doesn’t because of a technical glitch ) and the biggest contribution 5G could make to the world is an increase in stress and potentially, the number of heart attacks. At least the ambulance will be able to transmit your bodies functioning parameters efficiently as you make your way to the hospital.

 

December 2015 Spectrum Auctions

The December 2015 spectrum auctions gave a strong hint as to the strategies and capabilities of Australia’s major players. The government raised over half a billion dollars selling 1800Mhz spectrum to the major telcos.

CompanySpend
Optus$196 Million
Telstra$191 Million
TPG$88 Million
Vodafone$68 Million

There appears to be a reasonable amount of significance to the bidding profile. Their spend levels shows Vodafone is still cash strapped. Despite the monies around from their internal ‘Project Spring‘ ( the projects that used the monies freed up by the sale of Verizon ) Vodafone was still comprehensively outbid. However, there is no fighting the facts. Vodafone now match Telstra for 4G coverage. Both companies provided a 4G signal 76% of the time.

Optus on the other hand appear more than willing to compete with Telstra on network. Optus have said that they’re going to match Telstra for coverage before. This bidding profile suggests that they’re actively investing to do it now.

Network coverage is about balance. Telstra cover more than 1m square miles more than Vodafone for a 0.5% of population coverage increase. That footprint does, of course, cover travellers and people who temporarily find themselves in the bigger footprint area. From what we’ve seen in this, the latest round of bidding, it appears that Optus has the right balance bidding for this extra capacity outside cities.