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.

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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.

Optus speed test results

P3 average download speed (drivetest)Ookla speed scoreOpenSignal average download speed
92.85Mbps39.8536.4Mbps

Telstra speed test results

P3 average download speed (drivetest)Ookla speed scoreOpenSignal average download speed
97.86Mbps47.2741.1Mbps

Vodafone speed test results

P3 average download speed (drivetest)Ookla speed scoreOpenSignal average download speed
86.18Mbps42.0732.8Mbps

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

Name Product Features Data Price
  • Unlimited standard national calls & texts
120GB
Full speed data
Slowed to 1.5Mbps after full speed data used up
$0.71 per GB
$85
per month
120GB
Full speed data
Slowed to 1.5Mbps after full speed data used up

$0.71 per GB
$85
per month
Go to site
View details
  • Get 90GB bonus data per month. T&Cs apply. Ends 02 September 2021
  • Unlimited standard national calls & texts
150GB
Data
$0.37 per GB
$55
per month
150GB
Data

$0.37 per GB
$55
per month
View details
  • Get 90GB bonus data per month. T&Cs apply. Ends 02 September 2021
  • Unlimited standard national calls & texts
150GB
Full speed data
Slowed to 10Mbps after full speed data used up
$0.37 per GB
$55
per month
150GB
Full speed data
Slowed to 10Mbps after full speed data used up

$0.37 per GB
$55
per month
Go to site
View details
  • Unlimited standard national calls & texts
180GB
Full speed data
Slowed to 1.5Mbps after full speed data used up
$0.64 per GB
$115
per month
180GB
Full speed data
Slowed to 1.5Mbps after full speed data used up

$0.64 per GB
$115
per month
Go to site
View details
  • Optus Flex now lets you connect to a mobile plan with a new number in minutes, all from My Optus app. eSIM capable device required
  • Unlimited standard national calls & texts
30GB
Data
$1 per GB
$30
per 30 days expiry
30GB
Data

$1 per GB
$30
per 30 days expiry
Go to site
View details
  • Get 200GB bonus data per month. T&Cs apply. Ends 02 September 2021
  • Unlimited standard national calls & texts
300GB
Data
$0.22 per GB
$65
per month
300GB
Data

$0.22 per GB
$65
per month
View details
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Compare up to 4 providers

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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