Telecommunications coverage mapping company OpenSignal has released its quarterly State of Mobile Networks report for Australia, awarding multiple network speed, availability, and latency gongs to Vodafone.
"In the six months since OpenSignal's last State of Mobile Networks report for Australia, Vodafone has been quite busy," the company said.
"In our most recent test period covering January through March, Vodafone moved into a lead role in all of our metrics, either winning or drawing every award category.
"Vodafone has jumped ahead of Telstra in our 4G speed metric, averaging LTE downloads of 40Mbps."
Vodafone Australia won the 4G download speed category with average speeds of 39.97Mbps for its users, followed by Telstra at 37.56Mbps, and Optus at 33.58Mbps. Optus had the highest 3G speeds at 6.82Mbps, followed by Vodafone at 6.33Mbps, and Telstra at 5.73Mbps.
Overall download speed was also taken out by Vodafone, which OpenSignal averaged out at 34.65Mbps; Telstra came second, with 32.32Mbps; and Optus came third, with 29.19Mbps.
"You could never accuse any Australian operator of pokey 4G speeds, though," OpenSignal added. "All three major operators averaged downloads greater than 33Mbps in our LTE tests, which is nearly double the global 4G average of 16.9Mbps."
In terms of latency, Vodafone had the shortest over its 4G network, at 30.3 milliseconds, followed by Optus with 32.72ms and Telstra with 38.15ms. Latency over 3G was taken out by Optus, with 60.84ms, followed by Vodafone at 62.8ms and Telstra at 73.31ms.
On the percentage of time that each telco's customers had 4G available to them, Vodafone ranked highest, at 88.49 percent, followed by Optus at 88.31 percent and Telstra at 86.6 percent -- although it should be noted that Telstra has a higher number of regional and rural customers where 4G may not be available.
According to OpenSignal, Vodafone was the fastest 4G network in Melbourne, while Telstra took out Brisbane; Vodafone and Telstra tied for speeds in Perth and Sydney. On latency, Optus had the lowest latency in Melbourne, Vodafone had the lowest in Brisbane and Perth, and Vodafone and Telstra shared the crown in Sydney.
OpenSignal had awarded Telstra the highest speed gong in its last report in November.
In terms of Australia's LTE network on a global scale, OpenSignal in February reported Australia rising by three places to rank seventh globally on average download speeds, and rising by six places to come 13th worldwide in terms of 4G availability.
Between October and December, Australia's 4G speeds averaged 36.08Mbps, behind Singapore on 44.31Mbps; Netherlands on 42.12Mbps; Norway on 41.20Mbps; South Korea on 40.44Mbps; Hungary on 39.18Mbps; and Belgium on 36.13Mbps.
According to OpenSignal, Australia's improved speeds were due to "big network investments from ... Telstra and Vodafone".
Technology analyst firm Telsyte, meanwhile, has this week reported that it expects more than 10 million mobile 5G connections in Australia by 2022, with 5G services "quickly changing the current market dynamic driven by price competition".
"Telsyte estimates the number of 5G connections will reach over 10 million by the end of FY2022 and at least one network operator will begin shutting down 3G services by 2020," the Telsyte Australian Mobile Services Market Study 2018 said.
"The arrival of 5G is set to enable further innovation in mobile services plans and bundled services, helping create differentiation in the market for MNOs."
Telsyte said 616,000 new mobile services in operation (SIO) were added in the six months to December for a total of 34.2 million. Around a quarter of Australians were also forced by poor fixed-line connections to tether to their mobile phone in the last 12 months.
Telsyte has also tipped eSIMs as being "the catalyst for disruption".
Optus' live indoor and outdoor trial 5G network in the Gold Coast is providing download speeds of up to 16Gbps, as well as demonstrating a range of 5G use cases including robotics and VR.
Optus will begin the rollout of its 5G network early next year for 'key metro areas', as recent tests with network partner Huawei have attained 2Gbps speeds using commercial customer devices.
Telstra has set up a series of 5G-connected Wi-Fi hotspots in the Gold Coast, with director of Networks Mike Wright telling ZDNet the initiative is all about bringing 5G out of the lab while working around the lack of compatible devices.
Australia's incumbent telecommunications carrier looks to provide 5G to major cities and several regional areas by the end of 2019.
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