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

All three networks talk about huge speeds, but who delivers the best results to consumers?

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 that 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.

Optus speeds and plans 2015-2017

Date Flagship plan data inclusion/price P3 city average Ookla result OpenSignal result
October 2015 $100/12GB 38Mbps 31 Speed Score
April 2016 $100/12GB 19Mbps
October 2016 $100/15GB 56Mbps
April 2017 $100/15GB
October 2017 $100/40GB 65Mbps 33 Speed score 30Mbps

Telstra speeds and plans 2015-2017

Date Flagship plan data inclusion/price P3 city average Ookla result OpenSignal result
October 2015 $95/7GB 46Mbps 37 Speed score
April 2016 $95/6GB 23Mbps
October 2016 $95/10GB 59Mbps
April 2017 $95/12GB
October 2017 $109/20GB 60Mbps 45 Speed Score 38Mbps

Vodafone speeds and plans 2015-2017

Date Flagship plan data inclusion/price P3 city average Ookla result OpenSignal result
October 2015 $80/8GB 32Mbps 29 Speed Score
April 2016 $70/6GB 18Mbps
October 2016 $90/11GB 55Mbps
April 2017 $80/12GB
October 2017 $105/27GB 70Mbps 39 Speed Score 35Mbps

Compare speed results

As you can see, there are two clearly different stories being told across the P3 test and the crowd sourced tests. If you look at P3, you can see that both Optus and Vodafone's investment into new technology is evident, with the peak speeds that you'll see on a good day improving faster, and are higher than Telstra's.

However, things get a bit more interesting for Optus in the crowdsourced tests for real world speeds. While Telstra and Vodafone have both continued with a lot of speed growth in the past two years, Optus' real world results are growing at a much slower pace as they increase data limits to higher levels than Telstra and Vodafone.

Using Ookla's metrics, Optus has shifted from a number one position. The latest results show as Optus' base and data limits have grown, it is now well below both Telstra and Vodafone.

This is likely to relate to how Ookla weights results in peak download periods more than the others, showing that when more people are using the network, Telstra and Vodafone handle the load much more evenly.

Similarly, if you look at Open Signal, which is just the average speed across all of its users, while Optus' speeds have risen, Telstra and Vodafone's have both risen more, with Telstra providing the fastest average speed.

As data limits continue to rise, handling congestion and consistent network speeds will become a challenge for carriers as they wait for 5G to arrive.

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 month-to-month plans, either SIM-only or on a prepaid basis.

As you can see above, a lot can change in a network in just two 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 that 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:

Best three plans

Compare services

Telstra Optus Vodafone
4G coverage Covers 1600 Australian towns and communities Covers 98.5% of the Australian population Covers over 22 million Australians
5G launch 2019 Early 2019 2020
Mobile App Yes Yes Yes
Customer/Chat Support 24x7 24x7 Yes
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