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As 3G shutdown looms, which 5G network works best?


New research ranks Telstra, Optus and Vodafone's performance.

Optus has the fastest 5G broadband network but Telstra continues to have the broadest coverage with 5G, a new analysis of Australian mobile network performance finds.

Opensignal's Australia Mobile Network Experience Report tracked real world usage data on the networks between July and September this year.

It found that Optus has the fastest average 5G download speed across all networks at 226.5Mbps, followed by Telstra with 201.9Mbps and Vodafone at 102.5Mbps.

Opensignal's new "5G coverage experience" metric, which measures breadth of geographic coverage, ranked Telstra as having the best coverage, followed by Optus and then Vodafone.

While 5G networks do offer faster speeds, much of their benefit comes from being able to consistently provide service to a larger number of users.

The report comes as concerns continue over the looming shutdown of older and slower 3G networks.

Australia's mobile networks are progressively shutting down 3G services and, in some cases, reusing that spectrum for 5G instead.

Vodafone's 3G network is due to shut in December 2023, with Optus and Telstra following next year.

Earlier this week, an ACCC report on mobile services in rural areas found that selling off mobile towers had not resulted in better service.

Concerns over the shutdown of 3G were highlighted in the ACCC's report: "Stakeholders raised concerns in public submissions and at our Consumer forum about the upcoming closure of 3G in 2024 and full transition to 4G and 5G," it said.

"Stakeholders fear that some users will lose mobile coverage for their mobile voice, Internet of Things, and broadband data, or that there will be insufficient capacity in the network."

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