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By the numbers: Telstra against the world

Telstra advertises its network as one of the best in the world. Well, it seems the telco might have a point.
Written by Phil Dobbie, Contributor

During the weekend, Telstra ran press ads claiming that they came out top in a report released by JD Power and Associates (JDP & A). It might be an impressive claim for those who have heard of the outfit (JD Power is part of McGraw-Hill and researches everything from healthcare and insurance to travel and real estate, almost all of it in the United States).

Curiously, at the end of the last month, JDP & A picked Australia as the market for its Wireless Network Quality Study, concluding that Telstra customers enjoy a better experience than those on other networks. The analysis, using field data collected from 1900 wireless users in February and March, looked at the number of problems, per 100 connections. The analysis concluded that the figure was 10 for Telstra; 13 for Virgin Mobile and 15 for Optus (even though Optus and Virgin are the same network); and 21 (ouch!) for Vodafone.

Nevertheless, the findings were that Telstra wins on our home turf. But how does it stack up on a global scale?

Not bad at all, it seems — at least, according to data on opensignalmaps.com. This nifty tool collects data from apps loaded onto Android phones. It repeatedly tests connection speeds (almost 2.5 billion so far), then uploads reports once the user has a Wi-Fi connection. The result is a global heat map of network coverage.

The findings are another indicator of the strength of the Telstra 3G network (with a download speed of 2.63Mbps in Sydney, compared to 1.86Mbps for Optus and 1.26Mbps for Vodafone). Telstra's ping time was 253ms, with Optus and Vodafone scoring 351ms and 470ms, respectively.

When we compare this to other major cities in the world, we see that Telstra compares very favourably, only slipping behind a little in reliability.


(Credit: Phil Dobbie/ZDNet Australia)

This isn't an exact science, of course. We have no knowledge of the sample size at any specific location, so some results will be more reliable than others, but there are likely enough to support the notion that Telstra is providing a world-class offering.

According to Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at JDP & A, those who choose a carrier to obtain better network coverage spend $16 more each month, than those who selected a carrier for another reason. Put simply, it seems that better network performance means more revenue.

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