Telstra has the highest average 4G speeds while Optus has the best 4G latency and Vodafone Australia the highest 4G availability, according to telecommunications coverage mapping company OpenSignal's latest report.
Telstra's average 4G download speed between July and September was 37.82Mbps, OpenSignal said, with Vodafone clocking in at 35.21Mbps and Optus following on 30.22Mbps.
Optus led on average 3G speeds, at 6.53Mbps, followed by Vodafone at 6.27Mbps and Telstra at 5.66Mbps.
The overall average download speed for each telco was 30.88Mbps for Telstra, 29.44Mbps for Vodafone, and 24.85Mbps for Optus.
On speeds, OpenSignal pointed towards Telstra aggregating five 4G channels, Optus aggregating between two and four, and Vodafone doing the same though over less spectrum.
Telstra and Optus also use 4x4 Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (4x4 MIMO) and 256 Quadrature Amplitude Moderation (256 QAM), the report said, meaning speeds will climb even higher across Australia once more consumers begin using compatible devices.
Latency on 4G networks was led by Optus, at 33.64 milliseonds, with Vodafone following on 35.78ms and Telstra on 39.82ms. Optus also had the best latency on 3G networks, at 73.25ms, while Telstra had 78.91ms and Vodafone had 81.6ms.
On the percentage of time that each telco's customers had 4G available to them, Vodafone ranked highest, at 85.88 percent, followed by Optus at 85.43 percent and Telstra at 85.07 percent -- although it should be noted that Telstra has a higher number of regional and rural customers where 4G may not be available.
"Though the three results are extremely close, we should point out that our availability metric does not measure geographic or population coverage. Rather, 4G availability is a measure of how often an operator's current customers are able to access a 4G connection," OpenSignal explained.
"Telstra has long invested heavily in geographic coverage, bringing mobile data services to some of the remotest parts of Australia. But as the vast majority of its customers don't live or work in those remote areas, the full extent of its LTE network coverage isn't reflected in our availability scores."
In a blog post, OpenSignal added that Telstra's "place coverage" is almost equal to its 4G availability, "which shows Telstra was able to maintain its high level of LTE accessibility across rural and urban areas alike".
"Meanwhile, Optus and Vodafone's 4G place coverage scores are several percentage points lower than their availability scores. If we were to drill down into the details of the individual metrics, we see that Telstra's superior network presence becomes a bigger and bigger factor as we move from urban to rural areas," the blog post added.
Overall, Australia's networks "provided some of the best 4G availability in the world", OpenSignal said, with a total availability score of 84.3 percent, ranking it in the top 10 globally.
In a breakdown of regions, Telstra came out on top for all three 4G categories for Sydney, also coming equal first for 4G availability in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth, as well as equal first for 4G download speeds and 4G latency in Brisbane and Perth.
Vodafone came first in Melbourne for 4G download speeds, and equal first for 4G speeds and 4G latency in Brisbane and Perth; it also came equal first for 4G availability in Brisbane.
Optus took the top spot for 4G latency in Melbourne, coming equal first for 4G latency across Brisbane and Perth, and equal first for 4G availability in Melbourne and Perth.
Overall, OpenSignal said Australia's mature mobile market is a prime area for moving to 5G as seen in trials by Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone.
"With such a mature and competitive mobile market between three carriers, it's nearly time to look ahead at what's next in Australia. And the operators are doing just that, leading trials of advanced technologies as we transition towards a 5G future," OpenSignal said.
"Regardless of future plans, Australia's mobile broadband market today is already among the best in the world when it comes to 4G. Strong signals abound with download speeds are some of the fastest in the world. If any country is building a testbed for future 5G services, it's Australia."
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