Telstra finally extends 5G network access to smaller telcos

Telstra has confirmed its long-awaited 5G wholesale service will go live in July, giving more customers potential access to the next-generation mobile technology.

The news is a game-changer for Telstra Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), who are smaller telcos that purchase wholesale network access from Telstra to then sell on to customers via mobile plans. Once Telstra’s wholesale 5G service launches, customers can experience ultra-fast Telstra 5G speeds, without needing to sign up to a Telstra plan.

What does this mean for customers?

Currently, there are around ten Australian mobile providers who offer services on Telstra’s 4G and 3G mobile networks, including ALDI Mobile, Boost Mobile, Woolworths Mobile, Lycamobile, and Telstra subsidiary Belong. If these MVNOs decide to purchase wholesale 5G from Telstra once the product is available, they’ll then be able to sell 5G-ready mobile plans to customers, potentially at a cheaper price than what’s currently offered by Telstra.

Telstra Wholesale executive Glenn Osborne said the company’s move into selling wholesale 5G reflected ‘rapidly evolving’ market demands.

“The ability for our Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) customers to offer a premium 5G mobile plan, as part of their suite of mobile solutions, provides even more possibilities for these customers to unlock new growth opportunities and attract different audiences seeking the performance benefits and capacity of 5G.”

Telstra stated that its wholesale 5G service will offer coverage to over 75% of the Australian population. The telco’s 5G network currently covers more than 3,200 suburbs and 200 cites and towns nationwide, including more than 100 regional towns.

Wholesale 5G plans will include 4G (and 3G until the network switches off in 2024), and offer typical download speeds between 10 and 250Mbps. 5G can deliver speeds significantly faster than what’s available on 4G-only plans, as well as lower latency and a higher network capacity — meaning everything from streaming to gaming will see a big performance boost on a 5G plan. Customers using Telstra’s wholesale 5G service will also have access to mmWave 5G where available, which offers even faster speeds than standard mid-frequency 5G.

To use 5G on a Telstra or MVNO plan, customers will need a 5G-capable smartphone or home hotspot, in addition to being in an area with 5G coverage. Woolworths Mobile already sells a range of 5G-ready phones on plans, including new releases such as the Samsung Galaxy S22 range and OPPO Find X5 series.

The following table shows a selection of published 24-month plans for the 128GB iPhone 13 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 plans for the 128GB Samsung Galaxy S21 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 plans for the Google Pixel 6 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.

Will this lead to cheaper 5G plans?

Currently, Telstra’s 5G SIM-only mobile plans begin at $65 per month for 80GB of full-speed data. In comparison, Belong’s 80GB, 4G-only SIM plan is priced at $45 per month, while Woolworths Mobile’s 65GB 4G-only plan is also $45.

While it’s impossible to say how much Telstra MVNOs will charge for 5G phone plans — or even which telcos are likely to add Telstra 5G to their product range — there’s a good chance that any 5G options from smaller providers will be cheaper than equivalent plans from Telstra. So for customers wanting to jump on board with fast 5G, but put off by Telstra’s prices, a more affordable alternative could be available by the end of the year.

Optus already provides wholesale 5G access to MVNOs, although as of May 2022 only SpinTel, Southern Phone and Aussie Broadband have launched 5G mobile products. Optus’ 5G postpaid plans begin at $45 per month for 20GB of fast data; in comparison, 20GB with 5G access is also available for $45 per month with Aussie Broadband, and for $50 per month with Southern Phone.

SpinTel only offers 5G network access on its larger SIM plans, so options begin at $50 per month for 80GB of data, or $65 for a whopping 200GB. Overall, prices seem fairly comparable with what’s available directly from Optus; however, Optus does throw in extra features, such as international talk and text and unlimited speed-capped data.

While TPG Telecom/Vodafone also operates its own 5G network, it’s currently only accessible through Vodafone plans for mobile customers. The telco hasn’t yet allowed MVNOs use of its 5G network for phone plans, but its 5G home internet is available through Vodafone, TPG, iiNet and Internode — all brands owned by TPG Telecom.

It’s highly possible that more providers offering 5G will lead to more competitive pricing down the line, especially if MVNOs expand their existing mobile broadband and home wireless internet plans to include 5G. Fast 5G home internet is currently available from the above four TPG-owned providers, as well as from Telstra, Optus and SpinTel.

If you’re interested in 5G as a home internet solution, unlimited data plans begin at around $69 per month for speed-capped options (limited to downloads of 100Mbps), and from $79.99 monthly for unrestricted speeds.

The following table shows selected published 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
TPG Logo

5G Home Broadband Max

  • $74.99 per month for existing TPG customers
  • No speed restrictions
  • $0 setup fee with no lock-in contract
  • $0 modem when you stay connected for 36 months
  • Special offer: First month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $79.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $79.99Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
iiNet Logo

Home Broadband Max

  • No speed caps
  • $0 set up fees and no lock-in contract
  • $0 5G modem
  • Special offer: one month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $84.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $84.99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go to Site
Internode

Home Broadband Max

  • No speed caps
  • $0 set up fees and no lock-in contract
  • $0 5G modem
  • Special offer: one month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $84.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $84.99Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Vodafone Logo

Ultimate 5G Home Broadband

  • $80 per month for existing Vodafone customers
  • No speed restrictions
  • $0 setup fee with no lock-in contract
  • $0 modem when you stay connected for 36 months
  • Special offer: First month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $85 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $85Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Telstra Logo

5g Home Internet

  • 5G speeds
  • Speeds capped at 25Mbps after 1TB allowance exceeded
  • Includes Telstra 5G Home Modem ($0 when you stay connected for 24 months)
  • Special offer: first month free for new customers. Terms apply.
  • Special offer: 3 months free BINGE standard. Terms apply.

min. cost $85 over one month

1TBMax Data**/billing period $85Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Spintel Logo

SpinTel 5G Unlimited

  • No speed cap
  • Nokia 5G modem included
  • Special offer: $80 per month for first 6 months, then $90 per month ongoing. Terms apply.

min. cost $90 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $90Advertised Cost^^/billing period Link to provider unavailable
Optus Logo

Optus 5G Internet Entertainer Superfast

  • No speed cap
  • 50Mbps satisfaction guarantee
  • Includes the Optus supplied Nokia FastMile 5G Gateway Modem ($576 modem cost)
  • Stay connected for 36 months and pay $0 for the modem
  • Includes standard Netflix subscription via SubHub
  • Special offer: $0 Start-up fee + 1 Month free
  • Intro offer: $89/mth for first 6 mths, then $99/mth T&Cs Apply

min. cost $675 over first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $99Advertised Cost^^/billing period Link to provider unavailable
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

The following table shows selected published 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
Spintel Logo

SpinTel 5G Unlimited

  • Up to 100Mbps speeds
  • Nokia 5G modem included

min. cost $69 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $69Advertised Cost^^/billing period
TPG Logo

5G Home Broadband Premium

  • $64.99 per month for existing TPG customers
  • Up to 100Mbps speeds
  • $0 setup fee with no lock-in contract
  • $0 modem when you stay connected for 36 months
  • Special offer: First month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $69.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $69.99Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
iiNet Logo

Home Broadband Premium

  • Up to 100Mbps speeds
  • $0 set up fees and no lock-in contract
  • $0 5G modem
  • Special offer: one month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $74.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $74.99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go to Site
Internode

Home Broadband Premium

  • Up to 100Mbps speeds
  • $0 set up fees and no lock-in contract
  • $0 5G modem
  • Special offer: one month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $74.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $74.99Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Vodafone Logo

Premium 5G Home Broadband

  • $70 per month for existing Vodafone customers
  • Up to 100Mbps speeds
  • $0 setup fee with no lock-in contract
  • $0 modem when you stay connected for 36 months
  • Special offer: First month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $75 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $75Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Optus Logo

Optus 5G Internet Everyday

  • Speed capped at 100Mbps
  • 50Mbps satisfaction guarantee
  • Includes the Optus supplied Nokia FastMile 5G Gateway Modem ($576 modem cost)
  • Stay connected for 36 months and pay $0 for the modem
  • Special offer: $0 Start-up fee + 1 Month free

min. cost $655 over first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $79Advertised Cost^^/billing period Link to provider unavailable
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

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