Where and when can I get 5G in Australia?

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2019 is likely to be the year of 5G in Australia (and around the world). The next-generation mobile technology promises fast data speeds, more reliable connections, and a brave new world of ‘inter-connectedness’ that has been dubbed ‘Everything on Mobile’.

With so much talk in the tech world of how 5G will change the mobile and internet game, you’re probably wondering when exactly you’ll be able to start using 5G networks. In preparation for the nationwide launch of 5G in Australia, we’ve got the answers to your most pressing 5G questions, including when you’ll get it, how to get it, and why you’ll want it.


5G in Australia: the key points

  • 5G is a next-generation mobile technology that will offer faster-than-ever speeds for mobile phones, tablets, and more.
  • Telstra and Optus have switched on 5G in limited areas, and are currently expanding their 5G networks across Australia. Vodafone’s 5G network is likely to go live in 2020.
  • In order to access 5G, you’ll need a 5G-capable smartphone or device.
  • We don’t yet know how much a 5G phone plan will cost, but it may be on par with existing plan prices.
  • 5G could be a NBN alternative for some users, but is unlikely to replace other broadband plans and options.

What is 5G?

5G is the next step up from 4G mobile – a new set of specifications for networks that will lead to faster speeds and the ability to transmit even more data. Estimated potential 5G speeds could be anything from four to 20 gigabits per second – at least in theory – and 5G is expected to offer about 10 times the bandwidth of existing 4G networks.

5G will also see a serious reduction in mobile latency – or the ‘lag’ between when a command is issued, and when a network responds. This paves the way for advancements in industries and online activities that rely on quick responses, such as remote surgery and medicine, the ‘internet of things’ (including self-driving cars), and even virtual reality and gaming.

Overall, 5G networks will be able to handle more data and more users than Australia’s existing 4G and 3G coverage. With an expanding population now using more connected devices than ever before, 5G will be an essential next step in improving (and maintaining) existing mobile speeds and capacity.

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When can I get 5G in Australia?

Launching 5G isn’t as simple as flicking a switch – it involves building new infrastructure, upgrading existing mobile stations, and adapting existing engineering and signal processing techniques. It’s an expensive and time-consuming venture, but will pay off by providing a stronger, faster mobile network to Australians across the country.

After months of waiting, 5G is available to consumers in Australia, but only in selected areas. Telstra customers can access 5G via the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G smartphone, or through Telstra’s new HTC 5G Hub smart hub and hotspot, while a very small amount of Optus subscribers have been selected to use the telco’s 5G mobile broadband service. However, as all three major mobile providers (Telstra, Optus and Vodafone) are currently in the process of building and switching on their respective 5G networks, coverage is still limited.

Telstra’s 5G Network

Telstra is rolling out 5G mobile base stations across the country, with plans to make the technology available to customers in 35 towns and cities by the end of June. Coverage is limited to CBD areas and airports during the initial rollout, but Telstra anticipates this will cover up to 4 million Australians to some degree.

Telstra has achieved a number of world-firsts in the 5G arena – including launching 5G enabled hotspots – and recently confirmed it has hashed out exclusive Australian partnerships with 5G device manufacturers, including Samsung, LG, and Oppo.

In May, Telstra announced that it had begun selling Australia’s first 5G mobile device, the HTC 5G Hub, on two-year mobile broadband plans. The Hub can connect to up to 20 WiFi devices, and offers coverage on both Telstra’s 5G (where available) and 4GX networks.

Telstra also began stocking Samsung’s 5G-enabled Galaxy S10 smartphone from 28 May, and pre-orders for the OPPO Reno 5G go live from 31 May. The telco will also launch new phone plans with 5G connectivity options in June.

Telstra 4G Phone Plans

The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G is now available on two-year plans from Telstra, and will allow Australians to access the telco’s initial 5G network rollout (as well as 4G across the country). The S10 5G is available to lease or buy over 24 months, and comes in 256GB and 512GB storage sizes.

You can find all of Telstra’s Samsung Galaxy S10 5G plans here, but below are the standard two-year plans for the 256GB model. These are featured products.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Telstra Logo

Samsung Galaxy S10 5G 256GB + $59 Small Plan

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Data-free music and sports streaming
  • Access the free Telstra Air WiFi network
  • Price includes $83 monthly device payment

min. cost $3,408 over 24 month plan period

3GBMax Data**/billing period $142Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Samsung Galaxy S10 5G 256GB + $79 Medium Plan

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Data-free music and sports streaming
  • Access the free Telstra Air WiFi network
  • Includes 10GB bonus data
  • Price includes $67 monthly device payment

min. cost $3,504 over 24 month plan period

20GBMax Data**/billing period $146Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Samsung Galaxy S10 5G 256GB + $99 Large Plan

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Unlimited calls & SMS to 15 countries
  • Data-free music and sports streaming
  • Access the free Telstra Air WiFi network
  • Includes 20GB bonus data
  • Price includes $51 monthly device payment

min. cost $3,600 over 24 month plan period

50GBMax Data**/billing period $150Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Samsung Galaxy S10 5G + $129 Extra Large Plan

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Unlimited calls & SMS to 15 countries
  • Data-free music and sports streaming
  • Access the free Telstra Air WiFi network
  • Includes 100GB bonus data
  • 2GB international data roaming
  • Special offer: $10 monthly credit
  • Price includes $35 monthly device payment

min. cost $3,696 over 24 month plan period

160GBMax Data**/billing period $154Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Samsung Galaxy S10 5G 256GB + $199 Ultimate Plan

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • *Unlimited data offered with ‘the best speeds available’
  • Unlimited international calls & SMS
  • Data-free music and sports streaming
  • Access the free Telstra Air WiFi network
  • 10GB international data roaming
  • Price includes $0 monthly device payment

min. cost $4,776 over 24 month plan period

Unlimited*Max Data**/billing period $199Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
View all mobile plans listed on Canstar Blue

Vodafone’s 5G Network

Vodafone hasn’t been quite as open with its build and rollout as Telstra and Optus, but has confirmed that it plans to launch its 5G network in 2020. The telco is currently awaiting approval for a possible merger with TPG – and has said it will fight the ACCC in court if necessary – but it’s unclear how this deal will affect the implementation of 5G for both companies.

TPG recently abandoned plans to build its own 4G network, as a ban on infrastructure partner Huawei in Australia has created a huge roadblock to an eventual upgrade to 5G. Without the option of moving to 5G in the near future, TPG decided that launching its own network was no longer commercially viable; instead, it intends to merge with Vodafone to create ‘Mobile JV’, assuming the deal isn’t blocked by the ACCC’s opposition.

Like Optus and Telstra, Vodafone has spent hundreds of millions on 5G spectrum in preparation for its network launch. Although it may be a little bit behind its two rival networks in terms of a switch-on date, Vodafone’s investment in the new mobile standard has been ongoing, and the telco even ran the first live public trial of 5G in Australia two years ago.

Vodafone 4G Phone Plans

While you’re waiting for Vodafone’s 5G network, you can sign on for 4G service on the telco’s Red postpaid plans. Currently offering bonus data and extras, selected plans also include unlimited slowed data, and are listed below. These are featured products.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Vodafone Logo

$35 Red SIM Only

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS

min. cost $420 over 12 months

5GBMax Data**/billing period $35Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Vodafone Logo

$40 Red SIM Only Promo Plan

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • 500 international minutes to Zone 1 countries, 50 international minutes to Zone 2 countries

min. cost $480 over 12 months

40GBMax Data**/billing period $40Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Vodafone Logo

$45 Red SIM Only

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • 1000 international minutes to Zone 1 countries, 100 international minutes to Zone 2 countries

min. cost $540 over 12 months

50GBMax Data**/billing period $45Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Vodafone Logo

$55 Red SIM Only

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • 2000 international minutes to Zone 1 countries, 200 international minutes to Zone 2 countries

min. cost $660 over 12 months

90GBMax Data**/billing period $55Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Vodafone Logo

$55 SIM Only Plus

  • Unlimited data*(capped at 1.5Mbps after 90GB)
  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • 2000 international minutes to Zone 1 countries, 200 minutes to Zone 2 countries

min. cost $660 over 12 months

90GBMax Data**/billing period $55Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Vodafone Logo

$65 Red SIM Only

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Unlimited international minutes to Zone 1 countries, 300 international minutes to Zone 2 countries

min. cost $780 over 12 months

125GBMax Data**/billing period $65Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Vodafone Logo

$65 SIM Only Plus

  • Unlimited data*(capped at 1.5Mbps after 125GB)
  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Unlimited international calls to Zone 1 countries, 300 international minutes to Zone 2 countries

min. cost $780 over 12 months

125GBMax Data**/billing period $65Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
View all mobile plans listed on Canstar Blue

Optus’ 5G Network

Optus has also begun to send its 5G sites live in very selected locations, and has announced plans to launch the first Australian 5G home broadband plan – although customers can’t access it without a compatible Optus device. Currently, the telco is rolling out 5G broadband into selected areas, with eligible residents now able to ‘register their interest’ before the official launch in mid-2019.

One exception is in the western Sydney suburb of Glendenning. A small group of Optus customers in the area are now officially connected to 5G home broadband, with Optus reporting an average download speed of 100Mbps, and peak speeds of up to 295Mbps. The telco has also confirmed its 5G home broadband will soon be available to registered customers in Bonnyrigg, Minchinbury and Niagara Park (NSW), plus Cook (ACT) and Kenmore (QLD).

Along with an unlimited data plan priced at just $70 per month, Optus will also offer 5G-capable devices, including Nokia’s 5G home hub. Mobile 5G will also be a priority for Optus in 2019, and the company has already tested 5G during the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games last year.

Like Telstra, Optus is committed to pre-launch testing, and hopes to have its next-generation cellular rollout well underway when any 5G devices reach Australian markets. As of May 2019, the telco has confirmed it is working with Ericsson to build fifty 5G sites across Sydney and Melbourne, which will form part of the 1,200 5G sites Optus plans to roll out by March 2020.

Optus 4G Phone Plans

Optus currently offers competitive BYO-phone and phone-on-a-plan options on its 4G Plus network. The telco’s SIM-only plans are a good indication of what to expect when 5G goes live, and are listed in the below table.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Optus Logo

$30 My Plan Plus

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Stream Optus Sport & Nat Geo data free

min. cost $360 over 12 month plan period

3GBMax Data**/billing period $30Advertised Data^^/billing period
Optus Logo

$40 My Plan Plus

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • 400 minutes standard international calls to 35 countries
  • Stream Optus Sport & Nat Geo data free

min. cost $480 over 12 month plan period

40GBMax Data**/billing period $40Advertised Data^^/billing period
Optus Logo

$50 My Plan Plus

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Unlimited standard international talk & text to 35 countries
  • Stream Optus Sport & Nat Geo data free

min. cost $600 over 12 month plan period

80GBMax Data**/billing period $50Advertised Data^^/billing period
View all mobile plans listed on Canstar Blue

 

5G Devices

Despite the number of 5G sites now live in Australia, you won’t be able to access these networks until 5G-capable devices become commercially available. Your existing smartphone, tablet, or broadband device isn’t able to support the frequencies that 5G will run on, so you will eventually need to upgrade to a compatible handset.

Luckily, 5G smartphones are expected to hit stores mid-2019, starting with the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G on 28 May through Telstra. The OPPO Reno 5G will also be available to pre-order from Telstra from 31 May, and in stores from 11 June. Other major phone manufacturers – including Huawei, LG, and OnePlus – have all confirmed plans to release 5G handsets this year, and Sony and Nokia are also developing 5G devices.

Apple hasn’t yet announced plans to launch a 5G iPhone, but industry insiders speculate that this will happen in 2020. Regardless of brand, 5G-enabled phones won’t use 5G exclusively, but will instead be able to switch between 5G, 4G, LTE, and possibly 3G (depending on the best available coverage, and in addition to Wi-Fi networks).

Outside of smartphones, companies such as Nokia and HTC have been working with Aussie telcos to launch 5G-enabled home broadband devices, which are likely to be available before smartphones or tablets. HTC’s 5G Hub is available on Telstra mobile broadband plans from 22 May, and provides 4G and 5G coverage via Telstra’s networks.

How much will 5G cost?

It’s unclear whether the launch of 5G for mobile and broadband will see an immediate change in plan pricing in Australia. However, the demand for more data that providers experienced after 4G is likely to be repeated, meaning telcos may tweak their plans to offer more gigabytes (including unlimited high-speed data).

Telstra has confirmed that it will initially offer 5G coverage on phone plans free for the first 12 months, but lower-priced plans will then need to pay $15 per month for continued 5G access. However, customers on Telstra’s top two new phone plan options – set to go live in June – will receive included 5G access at no extra cost.

Regarding 5G broadband, the only provider to release 5G-specific plan details so far is Optus. As noted above, the telco has announced it will offer a 5G home broadband plan with unlimited data on both two-year and month-to-month contracts, and will price both options at just $70 per month. Currently, Optus’ largest 4G wireless broadband plan is priced at $85 per month for 500GB of data (on a 24-month contract and month-to-month), so the telco’s upcoming 5G plan could be extremely competitive.

Comparatively, Telstra’s HTC 5G Hub is now available on mobile broadband plans on a two-year contract, with prices beginning at $70 per month for your device and 25GB of data. Telstra’s Medium HTC 5G Hub broadband plan includes 60GB for $94 monthly, while the Large option offers 100GB for $104. This includes 5G connectivity where available, and 4GX network access elsewhere.

If current pricing is anything to go by, expect Vodafone to offer the most affordable 5G mobile and broadband options, followed closely by Optus and then Telstra. As the three big networks are likely to eventually resell 5G access to smaller operators (such as Amaysim or Boost Mobile), it’s also possible that some serious 5G deals will be available down the line.

Is 5G better than the NBN?

While there’s already been plenty of speculation that 5G may be a potential ‘NBN killer’, it’s unlikely that wireless 5G networks will replace fixed broadband connections – at least not within the next decade. There’s no doubt that 5G promises impressive speeds (and may be significantly faster than existing premium NBN 100 plans), but it’s likely to be several years before coverage is available across Australia.

The NBN itself is still only in the rollout stage, and – if future upgrades go as planned – fibre NBN connections may eventually offer real-world speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second. 5G will be fast, but probably not quite that fast – and it will require huge investments in infrastructure and backhaul to become a truly viable NBN alternative.

Even if 5G could operate at full capacity, 5G broadband plans are likely to be expensive in comparison to existing NBN options. Optus may be planning to release a $70, unlimited-data 5G plan straight off the bat, but this isn’t necessarily a strong indicator of future 5G broadband prices and data inclusions. 5G coverage will also be severely lacking when compared to NBN availability, and again would require Australian telcos to invest heavily in order to reach the same coverage levels as existing 3G and 4G networks.

In general, 5G is likely to complement the NBN, rather than replace it. When it comes to high-bandwidth, data-intensive online activity, the NBN’s fixed-line connections will still be the go-to broadband option for the majority of Australians.

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Telstra 5G Coverage by Suburb

Telstra hasn’t released a specific list of enabled 5G sites, but it does offer 5G coverage maps which show the telco’s ‘anticipated coverage areas’. These are locations in which 5G is scheduled to go live by 30 June, 2019.

Below is a list of some of the suburbs and areas which may be covered by Telstra 5G by mid-2019, according to Telstra’s coverage maps.

NSW 5G Suburbs

  • Balgowlah
  • Botany
  • Manly
  • Mascot
  • North Sydney
  • Sydney
  • Randwick
  • Vaucluse

VIC 5G Suburbs

  • Carlton
  • Cremorne
  • East Melbourne
  • Melbourne
  • Southbank
  • South Melbourne
  • Richmond
  • West Melbourne

QLD 5G Suburbs

  • Ascot
  • Brisbane
  • Brisbane Airport
  • Bulwer Island
  • Eagle Farm
  • Fortitude Valley
  • South Brisbane
  • Southport
  • Surfers Paradise
  • Toowoomba
  • Tweed Heads

ACT 5G Suburbs

  • Belconnen
  • Braddon
  • Canberra
  • Fyshwick
  • Greenway
  • Lyneham
  • Philip

SA 5G Suburbs

  • Adelaide
  • North Adelaide
  • Thebarton
  • Torrens Island

WA 5G Suburbs

  • Applecross
  • Beeliar
  • Jandakot
  • Maddington
  • Perth
  • Riverton

TAS 5G Suburbs

  • Battery Point
  • Geilston Bay
  • Glenorchy
  • Hobart
  • Launceston
  • Lenah Valley
  • Lindisfarne
  • North Hobart
  • Sandy Bay

Optus 5G Coverage by Suburb

Here is a list of suburbs that have been confirmed by Optus as its first 5G sites to be built by Ericsson.

The sites, which will be built across Sydney and Melbourne, will form part of Optus’ plan to build 1,200 5G sites across Australia by March 2020.

NSW 5G Suburbs

  • Greystanes
  • Peakhurst
  • Mosman
  • Oatlands
  • Kellyville
  • Macquarie Park
  • Alexandria
  • North Baulkham Hills
  • North Ryde Business Park
  • North Sydney Central
  • North Ryde
  • North Ryde West
  • Enfield East
  • Riverside Corporate Park
  • Rydalmere
  • Marrickville
  • Dudley
  • Castle Hill
  • Carlton
  • Panania

VIC 5G Suburbs

  • Braybrook
  • Preston East
  • Mornington
  • Norlane
  • Hoppers Crossing
  • Dandenong South
  • Laverton West
  • Geelong West
  • Campbellfield South
  • Williams Landing
  • Greenvale Reservoir
  • Mt Martha
  • Research
  • Brunswick
  • Croydon South
  • Kensington
  • Noble Park South
  • Coburg
  • Mt Evelyn
  • Maidstone
  • Springvale South
  • Rosebud
  • Arthurs Seat
  • Abbotsford
  • Noble Park
  • Rye Central
  • Wantirna South
  • Rosebud East
  • Fishermans Bend
  • Reservoir North

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