Smartphone users in Melbourne and Sydney experience 4G Download Speeds 15 Mbps slower during busy times

Opensignal analyzed 4G Download Speeds experienced by our users in Australia’s two most populous cities — Melbourne and Sydney. We noticed a consistent trend in both cities: our users on all three of the country's main networks — Optus, Telstra, and Vodafone — experienced a wide range of 4G Download Speeds during different hours of the day likely due to congestion, with download speeds decreasing through the day.

In both cities, the fastest speeds were enjoyed between midnight and 6 a.m., when fewer people were online, with our users on Telstra’s network in Sydney experiencing the fastest average 4G Download Speeds of 57.5 Mbps, followed by Vodafone’s in Melbourne on 55.2 Mbps. Further in the day, as more users were online, our users saw their 4G Download Speeds drop on all three networks by 15 Mbps on average, hitting the lowest speeds between 6 p.m. and midnight. However, even during these busiest hours, our users in Melbourne and Sydney on all three networks experienced average 4G Download Speeds of at least 30 Mbps, which is much faster than the majority of cities across the globe. In fact, this was evident in our Mobile Network Experience Report, Australia - April 2019, where we saw our users across the country experience very high 4G Download Speeds on all three national operators, putting Australia among the world's elite countries in this metric.

In Melbourne, Telstra and Vodafone were toe-to-toe in providing our users the fastest 4G Download Speeds across most hours of the day, with Telstra clearly ahead only during the afternoon — between noon and 6 p.m. Interestingly, while Telstra and Vodafone’s users’ average 4G Download Speeds in Melbourne seemed to stabilize in the afternoon with no big declines in the evening (6 p.m. to midnight), Optus’s users’ speeds continued to drop across the whole day to our lowest average score in the city of 32.7 Mbps.

Sydney is the one city where we saw an operator shine. Not only did Telstra clearly provide our users the fastest 4G Download Speeds at all times of the day, but it also showed the smallest fluctuation in speed between quiet and busy times. In the evening — when mobile networks are  busiest — Telstra provided an average 46 Mbps in 4G Download Speed to our users, nearly 35% faster than Optus and more than a third quicker than Vodafone. Even though our users on both Vodafone and Optus’s networks experienced similar 4G Download Speeds at quiet times in Sydney, our users on Vodafone’s network saw 4G speeds significantly drop, hitting a low of 30.1 Mbps — an 18.6 Mbps difference with the fastest times.

At present, close to 89% of Australia’s population owns a smartphone. The wide range of 4G Download Speeds experienced by smart device users in the country’s largest cities highlights the kind of challenges Australia’s operators face in providing services to a large number of smartphone users consuming more and more data on their 4G networks. On the other hand, the ongoing rollout of 5G networks will complement existing 4G networks by adding new capacity as well as giving Australia’s operators an opportunity to overcome speed fluctuation during peak hours by delivering improved capacity and better reliability.