Telstra 5G tops speed and coverage tests across Australia

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Benchmarking firm Umlaut has published the results of its latest 5G mobile network audit, which saw Telstra, Optus and Vodafone’s 5G networks tested for their speed, coverage, and latency across eight major Australian cities. With a total scope of 7,000 kilometres, Umlaut’s analysis tracked the availability and performance of 5G based on the current coverage maps provided by the three major telcos – and perhaps unsurprisingly, one carrier was streets ahead of the competition.

According to Umlaut’s analysis, Telstra offers both the fastest and most widely-available 5G coverage across all eight cities. Outstripping Optus in both speed and availability, Telstra’s network offered a higher average download speed across each location, with maximum download speeds of well over 700Mbps in most cities tested.

Telstra is Australia’s fastest 5G network

Umlaut tested the three 5G networks on a Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G smartphone, with mobile data set to 5G preferred. Measurements were taken between 25 June, 2020, and 8 July, 2020, and tests included download and upload stress tests, live web browsing, and YouTube streaming.

5G testing was conducted in following major cities:

  • Adelaide
  • Brisbane
  • Canberra
  • Gold Coast
  • Melbourne
  • Perth
  • Sydney
  • Toowoomba

While Optus performed well, Telstra was the clear winner for 5G speed, particularly on the Gold Coast and in Melbourne and Brisbane. The race was a little tighter in Perth, where Telstra and Optus averaged 5G speeds of 223Mbps and 208Mbps respectively, and in Adelaide (242Mbps for Telstra, and 218Mbps on Optus).

Sydney testing showed an average speed of 281Mbps for Telstra, and 189Mbps for Optus, with Telstra delivering a maximum speed of 789Mbps. Queensland tests showed some of the most impressive results from Telstra for both average and maximum 5G download speeds, including an average speed of 359Mbps on the Gold Coast (compared to an average of just 68Mbps from Optus).

The below graph shows the average and maximum 5G datastream download speeds recorded in the Umlaut tests for Optus and Telstra. While Vodafone’s 5G network was also tested, the low availability of Vodafone 5G in included cities means the results were omitted from Umlaut’s final speed analysis.

Graph of 5G speed test results
Image: Umlaut

5G coverage: Telstra beats Optus, Vodafone

Telstra’s 5G coverage was also much more widely available in all eight cities. Umlaut determined the results by calculating the percentage of time a 5G connection was present during tests in each capital city, as well as measuring mixed 5G/LTE and LTE-only coverage.

Again, Gold Coast testing showed the biggest gap in coverage between Telstra and Optus 5G, with Telstra 5G available 57.3% of the time (compared to just 6.2% for Optus 5G). Results were a little closer in Melbourne (50.4% for Telstra, and 26.5% for Optus) and Sydney (with Telstra available in 29.3% of tests, compared to 17.2% for Optus), but Telstra displayed more than double the average 5G coverage of Optus in Adelaide, Brisbane, and Canberra.

While Vodafone’s 5G network was also tested in all included cities, availability was almost non-existent when compared to the coverage provided by Telstra and Optus. The only location with measurable availability was Sydney, where Vodafone’s 5G was accessible in 0.3% of tests. However, customers should keep in mind that Vodafone only just began its 5G switch-on in March of this year, well behind Telstra and Optus’s 5G network launches in late 2018 and early 2019.

Results from Umlaut’s 5G availability testing across all cities are listed in the graph below.

Graph of 5G coverage tests
Image: Umlaut

5G in Australia: rollout continues

Although Telstra is the best-performing provider in Umlaut’s July 5G report, Optus shouldn’t be counted out. Both carriers have invested heavily in continuing their respective 5G rollouts across Australia, and customers can expect coverage and performance to increase throughout 2020 and into next year. Telstra in particular claims that its 5G network is now available to around one-third of the population, with plans to cover 75% of Aussies by June 2020.

It’s also important to note that 5G coverage is currently available in cities and towns outside of the eight included in Umlaut’s report. If you’re outside of a major metro area, but still interested in giving 5G internet a try, your best bet is to check 5G coverage maps from Telstra, Optus, or Vodafone to see if and when the next-generation mobile network will go live in your area.

Keep in mind that to access 5G, you’ll need to own a 5G-capable device and – for Telstra customers – be on a mobile plan with included 5G coverage. 5G-ready smartphones include the Samsung Galaxy S20 range, the OPPO Find X Pro 5G and Find X2 Neo 5G, and the newly-available Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra.

5G phone plans compared

See below for a range of plans for 5G-ready Samsung smartphones.

The following table shows a selection of published 24-month Telstra, Vodafone, Optus and Woolworths Mobile phone plans for the Samsung Galaxy S20 5G on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

The following table shows a selection of published 24-month Telstra, Vodafone, Optus and Woolworths Mobile phone plans for the Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

The following table shows a selection of published 24-month Telstra and Optus phone plans for the Samsung Galaxy A90 5G on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

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