The next big thing in mobile and internet is finally here. 5G is now live in Australia, offering faster-than-ever speeds, low latency, and more capacity than existing mobile networks – and it’s available from Optus.
Although Telstra has positioned itself as Australia’s number-one network for 5G, Optus is now catching up. The telco is now offering unlimited 5G home wireless broadband to eligible customers, as well as limited 5G coverage on a premium range of 5G-capable smartphones.
If you’re a current Optus customer interested in 5G, or you’re thinking about making the switch to an Optus phone or broadband plan, we’ve put together an easy guide to the telco’s shiny new 5G network – including plans, prices, and speeds.
In this guide we’ll cover:
- Where Optus 5G is available
- 5G smartphones from Optus
- Optus 5G home broadband
- How much Optus 5G costs
- Optus 5G speeds
Where is Optus 5G available?
As of October 2019, Optus has built over 230 5G sites across Australia. However, mobile 5G coverage is still very much in the early stages, with only selected areas currently able to access 5G via smartphone.
Although Optus does plan to roll out over one thousand 5G sites by March 2020, it may be a while before many Australians have adequate coverage. And if you’re looking at Optus 5G for your home broadband, this may not yet be available in your area, even if your residence is covered by the 5G mobile network.
Optus 5G mobile coverage is available in the following locations, albeit it in very limited areas:
- Central Coast
- Freemantle Region
- Geelong West
- Hawkesbury River
- Moreton Bay Region
- Mornington Peninsula
Optus has published coverage maps for all of the above locations on its website, but keep in mind that these are approximate and may not reflect your real-world 5G experience. It’s also important to note that according to Optus, in-building 5G coverage is not yet available – so you may be able to connect outdoors, but not inside your home or office.
Customers interested in 5G home broadband can enter their address on Optus’ website to check availability. If your home doesn’t yet qualify, you still have the option of signing up for 4G broadband instead, and making the switch to 5G when it becomes available.
How can I access Optus’ 5G network?
If you’d like to try out 5G on your smartphone, you’ll need a compatible device in order to access Optus’ 5G network. As 5G runs on specific frequencies, the majority of phones on the market just won’t cut it: only 5G-capable devices will work with the new mobile technology.
Fortunately, Optus now stocks multiple high-end phones with 5G capability:
- Samsung Galaxy S20 5G, S20+ 5G and S20 Ultra 5G
- Samsung Galaxy Note 20 5G and Note 20 Ultra 5G
- Apple iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro
- Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G
- Google Pixel 5
- OPPO Find X2 Pro 5G and X2 Lite 5G
Optus 5G phone plans
Optus’ postpaid SIM-only plans all include 5G network access, provided you have a 5G-ready phone. Plans begin at $39 per month and all include a monthly full-speed data allowance, plus unlimited data capped at speeds of 1.5Mbps.
The following table shows a selection of postpaid Optus plans from Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest, then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see a wide range of plans from other providers. This table includes products with links to referral partners.
Optus 5G Home Broadband
If you’re looking for a 5G home internet solution, Optus is now offering unlimited 5G home broadband to customers in eligible areas. Qualifying customers can now enjoy unlimited data on the 5G network for only $75 per month, although speeds are capped at 100Mbps. If you’d prefer unlimited 5G speeds, the Optus 5G Internet Entertainer plan is priced at $90 per month and includes a Fetch Mighty set-top box and premium channel pack.
Optus 5G home internet is available both on a two-year contract and on a month-to-month plan. 24-month plans feature no additional setup costs, but month-to-month customers will need to pay a $200 upfront start-up fee.
Optus 5G Home Internet plans
The following table shows selected published Optus 5G home internet plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest.
|Brand||Features||Max Data**/billing period||Advertised Cost^^/billing period|
Optus 5G Internet Everyday
min. cost $275 over first month
Optus 5G Internet Everyday (24M)
min. cost $1,800 over 24 months
Optus 5G Internet Entertainer
min. cost $290 over first month
Optus 5G Internet Entertainer (24M)
min. cost $2,160 over 24 months
|View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue||**^^View important information|
Both plan options include a wireless Nokia 5G modem with 4G/LTE backup. Optus 5G Home Broadband also comes with a 50Mbps Satisfaction Guarantee. Customers who don’t achieve download speeds of a least 50Mbps, or who experience 5G signal issues, are free to cancel their service with no cancellation fees, provided the included Nokia 5G modem is returned in good condition.
How much does Optus 5G cost?
Right now, Optus isn’t charging its mobile customers extra to access its 5G network. 5G-capable devices are still being offered on the same postpaid plan options as 4G-only phones, so you won’t currently need to pay more in order to use 5G.
However, it’s possible that this may change as Optus’ 5G rollout progresses and more customers pick up 5G-compatible smartphones. Although Optus hasn’t stated definitely that its mobile plans will change to adapt to 5G use, it’s possible that the telco will adopt a similar approach to Telstra.
Currently, Telstra is offering all customers buying 5G devices free access to its 5G network until June of 2020. After this time, customers on top-tier Telstra postpaid plans can continue to use 5G at no extra cost, but users on lower-priced plans will need to pay an extra $15 per month for continued access.
As Telstra separates phone payments from your actual monthly mobile service – you’ll sign a contract for your device payments, but not for your mobile plan itself – it’s free to change up plan prices and inclusions as needed. However, customers are also free to jump between Telstra’s four postpaid plan options on a monthly basis, so you do have the flexibility of changing plans once 5G access becomes an add-on extra.
In contrast, Optus bundles phones with a 12-month, 24-month or 36-month mobile plan, so you’ll be locked in to a single plan for the life of your repayments. The plus side? You’re protected from price changes for the duration of your contract term: if Optus does decide to charge extra for 5G while you’re mid-contract, you’ll still be able to access the new network for the same monthly price until your 12, 24 or 36-month payment period expires.
As for home broadband, we know that Optus currently charges from $75 per month for unlimited monthly gigabytes (subject to the company’s Fair Use policy). Whether this price is tweaked down the line remains to be seen; for now, the lucky few who have signed a two-year unlimited 5G internet plan can enjoy $75 per month pricing for at least the remainder of their contract term.
How fast is Optus 5G?
Optus is guaranteeing download speeds of 50Mbps and up for its 5G home broadband plan, with apparent average speeds of 85Mbps on the 5G Internet Everyday option and 214Mbps on the unrestricted 5G Internet Entertainer plan. Peak speeds of 295Mbps have been reported by customers, but real-world speeds may vary: however, you can expect a performance at least as fast as Standard Plus Evening Speed NBN.
Potential speeds on Optus’ 5G mobile network are less clear. While its undoubtedly faster than 4G and 4G Plus, Optus hasn’t released solid figures for 5G mobile users, and it’s still early days for the new technology.
Rival Telstra has recorded 5G speeds of 1Gbps and up on the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G (which we’ve witnessed in person), and even faster for the OPPO Reno 5G. If all goes well for Optus 5G, customers will hopefully see download speeds in the mid-hundreds and up.