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Telstra vs Optus vs Vodafone: Which Australian network gives you the most consistent speeds?

All 3 networks talk about huge speeds, but which delivers the best results to consumers?


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When we buy our new mobile phone plans, we're often swayed in by the money we can save on a deal or the included data we're paying for. But what good is all that data if you can't use it?

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

Telstra speed test results

P3 average download speed (drivetest)Ookla speed scoreOpenSignal average download speed

Vodafone speed test results

P3 average download speed (drivetest)Ookla speed scoreOpenSignal average download speed

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.

Need a new SIM-only month-to-month or prepaid plan on Optus, Telstra or Vodafone? Here's our pick for you:

Finder's picks

Compare services

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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