Why is Telstra so Bad


Telstra customer service/satisfaction

Telstra is the largest telco in Australia, but they’ve been through some rough patches. A quick online search about customer satisfaction turns up mixed results. Many Australians aren’t really impressed with their Telstra service, while some find the telco to be good enough. But how could Telstra be so bad when they have the widest mobile network coverage in the country?

Regardless of the issues Telstra have to resolve to stay true to their front-runner status, recent surveys have shown some improvement in customer service satisfaction. This is good news.

According to the Roy Morgan Customer Satisfaction Report on Mobile Phone Service Providers, business customer satisfaction has seen a 10 percent bump for Telstra. Telstra have also improved their customer satisfaction amongst other consumers.

In this article, we’ll discuss the strides Telstra have made over the years in an effort to improve their network and customer satisfaction, and leave you with the facts to decide whether Telstra is really so bad.

Telstra’s T22 strategy

Telstra have always been regarded as a huge company. Sometimes (if not all the time), this isn’t necessarily good for business. A large corporation isn’t the best when it comes to direct business-to-customer interactions. With their wide range of offerings, from multiple mobile SIM plan options to fixed wired plans, business plans of all types, and more, navigating the Telstra labyrinth was a chore for customers.

As a result, Telstra introduced a new strategy aimed at simplifying their offerings and the company’s structure in general. With Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) making strides in the telco market with cheap and simple plans and offerings, Telstra made several moves to simplify their lineups as well.

For instance, a couple of years ago, Telstra simplified their prepaid SIM only plans significantly, by eliminating a number of offerings and leaving customers with a smaller range that was easier to navigate. Telstra also did the same with postpaid SIM only plans (twice), and eliminated lock-in contracts.

We also saw Telstra make efforts to simplify their corporate structure by breaking into four independent divisions – InfraCo Towers, InfraCo Fixed, ServeCo, and Telstra International -that fall under the Telstra Division umbrella. That way, each division handle their own affairs, making it easier for customers to reach a department that’s related to their interests.

The T22 results so far

With the T22 strategy in full effect, Telstra have seen customer satisfaction improve over the past couple of years. However, the telco is still a long way from perfect. Just last year, the Communications Alliance Complaints in Context report indicated that Telstra had the most complaints amongst the two other major mobile telcos – Optus and Vodafone (TPG Telecom).

Telstra had 8.4 complaints per 10,000 customers, while Optus and Vodafone had 6 and 3 complaints respectively. But even though Telstra had the most complaints amongst the majors, the report still indicated an improvement over previous years.

complaints amongst the major mobile telcos

While there are several telcos with more customer complaints to than Telstra, they still have the most complaints amongst the major mobile telcos – Optus and Vodafone. source

Improvements are also evident with Telstra’s business customers. Last year’s Roy Morgan Customer Satisfaction Report on Mobile Phone Service Providers indicated a 10 percent improvement in customer satisfaction amongst Telstra’s mobile phone business customers. According to the report, 75 percent of the business respondents were satisfied with Telstra. This put Telstra ahead of Optus, which had a 63.1 percent satisfaction rating amongst business customers.

2020 Roy Morgan Customer Satisfaction Report on Mobile Phone Service Providers

2020 Roy Morgan Customer Satisfaction Report on Mobile Phone Service Providers indicates Telstra improved customer satisfaction by 10 percent amongst business mobile customers. source

While these reports are useful, perhaps a closer look at what the Telstra network actually have to offer would help decide just how bad or good the telco is.

Telstra network coverage and speed

Telstra is the largest telco in Australia. They have the widest coverage in the country across 3G, 4G, and 5G networks when compared to their competitors – Optus and Vodafone.

Perhaps the most significant development is just how far Telstra have gone with their 5G rollout. So far, the telco have the widest 5G coverage in Australia, covering 75 percent of the population.

As far as speed, perhaps that’s a more difficult statistic to measure in regards to 5G. Some surveys and reports have hailed Optus for having faster 5G speeds, while others have given that crown to Telstra.


Telstra still have a wide range of services to offer despite simplifying their structure and plans per the T22 strategy. They offer fixed broadband Internet, NBN, mobile broadband, TV and mobile SIM only plans. Telstra have lineups for both consumers and business customers, making the telco’s offerings seem even wider.

Ultimately, the reasons Telstra is so bad is partly a function of our expectations and partly a feature of how large and bureaucratic the company is. First, our expectations of companies these days, even large ones, tend to come from the technology giants that we use most often. If Amazon can get me a weird and wonderful package delivered next day, why can’t Telstra add 10 GB of mobile data?! It can be unrealistic to think that a company with a history the length of Telstra’s will be able to match much newer companies like those owned by Jeff Bezos.

Secondly, phone companies work best when they’re big. Telstra is huge – and that’s why it can afford to cover a large part of the country with it’s network. However, that’s also why you get bounced around the company when someone goes wrong. There are a lot of moving parts.

Overall, you know what you’re getting with Telstra and if you think they’re so bad – why not try an alternative. We have plenty on our homepage! If not, we’ve also broken down Telstra’s SIM only plans for you to get started.

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.