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Telstra, Optus or Vodafone: Which provider offers the most consistent speeds?

We've looked at a few metrics to determine which network delivers the best results in major metro areas.

Telstra, Optus and Vodafone all invest billions of dollars in their networks each year, improving everything from coverage in rural areas to download speeds and capacity.

However, just because a telco says it's throwing big dollars at the network, doesn't necessarily mean you as a customer are going to see better results in day-to-day usage.

Luckily, there are a few metrics we can look at to help us work out what sort of performance you're likely to achieve and why you're achieving that.

Compare speed results

Unsurprisingly, it's Telstra that takes the lead across all three tests. Its network infrastructure is both the oldest and the largest of all Australian telcos, which gives it an advantage in delivering higher speeds across a wider portion of the country.

That said, Telstra's lead isn't as commanding as it once was. Vodafone and Optus have spent considerable time and money in recent years shoring up their own networks and the test results reflect that. Yes, if you want the fastest speeds possible, Telstra is likely your best choice, but you're not going to be left in the dust if you go with Vodafone or Optus.

One point worth noting is how different the P3 speeds are to the crowd-sourced OpenSignal and Ookla results. The speeds recorded by P3 are far higher than those from Ookla and OpenSignal, which is largely due to the controlled nature of the P3 tests.

For its 2018 report, P3 conducted all its tests with Samsung Galaxy S8 handsets. The Galaxy S8 supports Category 16 network speeds and can take advantage of a technique called "carrier aggregation" (also referred to as LTE-A or LTE Advanced) where it receives data across three different frequencies at the same time. This allows for far higher speeds than are possible across a single frequency.

In reality, a lot of Aussie phones don't support carrier aggregation and this is likely why the OpenSignal and Ookla results are considerably lower than P3's.


As data limits continue to rise, handling congestion and consistent network speeds will become a challenge for carriers as they start to roll out their 5G networks.

For now though, it's important when you're signing up to a new plan to seek results like these to show what the network you're signing up to is like. There's no point buying a 50GB plan if you can barely use it because of sub-par speeds.

It's also wise to consider signing up to a month-to-month plan, either SIM-only or on a prepaid basis.

A lot can change in a network in just a couple of years, so not locking yourself into a service that could be dramatically different halfway through your contract is wise. That's if you don't need a new handset to go with your service, of course.

Also remember it's incredibly easy to change carriers if yours isn't fast enough, as is keeping your own number when you move, which in most cases is transferred within the hour of signing up.

Compare plans from the big 3 providers below

1 - 6 of 32
Name Product Features Data Price
  • $35 SIM for $12. Ends 9.5.24. Activate by 3.6.24 for 60GB on 1st, 40GB for 2nd & 3rd recharges, then 20GB/recharge. Excludes eSIM. New services only. T&Cs apply
  • Unlimited standard national calls & texts
40 GB
Data
$35
per 28 days expiry
40 GB
Data

$35
per 28 days expiry
Go to site
View details
  • 5GB for $12 on the first 3 recharges, normally 3GB for $12. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
  • Unlimited standard national calls & texts
5 GB
Data
$12
per 7 days expiry
5 GB
Data

$12
per 7 days expiry
Go to site
View details
  • Unlimited standard national calls & texts
360GB
Data
$69
per month
360GB
Data
Slowed to 2Mbps after full speed data used up

$69
per month
Go to site
View details
  • Get up to $60 off your subscriptions over 6 months with Optus SubHub, plus get 500GB for $69/mth for the first 12 months. T&Cs apply. Ends 4.8.24
  • Unlimited standard national calls & texts
500 GB
Data
$69
per month
500 GB
Data

$69
per month
Go to site
View details
  • 45GB/recharge for the first 6 recharges, then 25GB/recharge. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Ends 10.11.24
  • Unlimited standard national calls & texts
45 GB
Data
$35
per 28 days expiry
45 GB
Data
Slowed to 1.5Mbps after full speed data used up

$35
per 28 days expiry
Go to site
View details
  • 120GB for $160 on the first 3 recharges, normally 80GB for $160. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
  • Unlimited standard national calls & texts
120 GB
Data
$160
per 186 days expiry
120 GB
Data

$160
per 186 days expiry
Go to site
View details
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Compare services

TelstraOptusVodafone
4G coverageCovers 1,600 Australian towns and communitiesCovers 98.5% of the Australian populationCovers over 22 million Australians
5G launch2019Early 20192020
Mobile appYesYesYes
Customer/chat support24x724x7Yes
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