The state of Australian 4G

The state of Australian 4G

Summary: It has been over a year since 4G services landed in Australia, and less than one in 20 Australians have tried out the new technology.


Coverage comparison

(Bright Flamy Symbol image by Yuganov Konstantin, Shutterstock)

In October 2012, ZDNet tested the 4G networks of both Telstra and Optus in a number of locations in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth. Optus provided a new iPhone 5, and Telstra provided a Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 4G tablet for the purposes of the test.

The tests were conducted in the heart of the CBDs of each city, with one test each at their respective domestic airports at varied times throughout the day and the evening.

In Sydney, Optus came out on top for 4G coverage, averaging around 24Mbps down and 14Mbps up, with an average latency of 29ms. Telstra clocked an average of 20Mbps down and 8Mbps up, with an average latency of 61ms.

In Melbourne, Optus also came out on top, with an average of 17Mbps down and 12Mbps up, and an average latency of 57ms. Telstra came in at 11Mbps down and 3Mbps up, with an average latency of 39ms.

Telstra shone in Perth, however, with a significant lead over Optus, at an average of 37Mbps down and 30Mbps up, and an average latency of 37ms. Optus had an average of 14Mbps down and 12Mpbs up, with an average latency of 127ms.

Telstra explained that in Perth, its 1800MHz spectrum holding is larger, which would mean that there is more capacity in the network, but Wright also said that the number of users in Perth may have had an impact on the speeds.

"It can be a combination of the bandwidth, how heavily loaded the network is and the quality of your signal, and how we've optimised the network, so it does vary," he said.

Ottendorfer said that in this early stage of the rollout, building density and topography would play a big role in the achievable speeds.

"It has a lot to do at this stage in the rollout, where you haven't reached full density; it has a lot to do with the buildings in the cities and the topography," he said.

Across the board, statistics taken from ZDNet's Broadband Speed Test from between February and October this year showed that Telstra's average speed was 12.5Mbps, while Optus' was 13.6Mbps. Telstra had many more tests run, however, with 2,188 tests compared to just 110 from Optus customers. Just 13 percent of all tests run over 4G networks achieved speeds higher than 20Mbps.

Where to from here?

Topics: 4G, Telcos, Optus, Telstra, Australia


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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