5G User Experience Report Australia August 2020

Australia

5G User Experience Report
August 2020

Opensignal is the independent global standard for analyzing consumer mobile experience. Our industry reports are the definitive guide to understanding the true experience consumers receive on wireless networks.

Author
Sam Fenwick Senior Analyst

Key findings

Telstra wins the 5G Download Speed award

When we assessed the average speeds our 5G users observed when on a 5G connection, Telstra was the clear winner. With a score of 231.8 Mbps, it beat Optus by an impressive 61.9 Mbps (36.4%). This highlights the impressive jump in speeds that can be obtained with a 5G connection, given that in our latest Australian mobile network experience report the fastest average 4G download speeds that our users observed at the operator level were just above 50Mbps.

Optus and Telstra tie on 5G Availability

The two Australian operators are statistically tied on 5G Availability — the percentage of time that our 5G users spent connected to 5G services. Both obtained percentage scores that are comfortably below the double digit mark — not surprising given that the first 5G commercial launch in the country was in May 2019 and rolling out a new generation of mobile network technology across a country as vast as Australia is the work of years, not months. It should be noted that 5G Availability is not the same as the percentage of Australia’s population or geography covered by 5G, given that initial 5G deployments tend to be focused in city centres and the COVID-19 pandemic is encouraging users to spend more time in residential areas.

Telstra’s 5G users observe the fastest overall speeds

Telstra has won our award for the overall average speeds seen by our 5G users: Download Speed Experience – 5G Users. Its margin of victory — 5.8Mbps (12.3%) — was far more modest than that for the 5G Download Speed award. This is not a surprise given the modest 5G Availability scores of our 5G users. As the time 5G users spend connected to 5G will increase as both operators extend their 5G networks, the overall speeds our 5G users observe will be increasingly influenced by 5G speeds instead of 4G.

Telstra 5G users have seen some impressive improvements in their 5G mobile experience

When we compare the scores reported by our Telstra users against those from our look at ten 5G operators back in May, there has been a great deal of progress over the past few months. Telstra users’ 5G Download Speed has risen from 157 Mbps to 231.8 Mbps, an increase of 74.8 Mbps (47.7%). In addition, the proportion of time that our Telstra 5G users spend connected to 5G has grown from 5.9% to 8.2%, an increase of 2.3 percentage points.

Introduction

For the first time, Opensignal presents 5G awards in Australia. We have analyzed our 5G users' experience across three 5G measures: the average speed of the 5G connection when users have an active 5G link, or 5G Download Speed; the time users spend connected to 5G represented by 5G Availability; and the overall speed our 5G users experience across different generations of mobile technology, which we call Download Speed Experience – 5G Users. This last measure combines the average speeds that 5G users experience on 3G or 4G when they are not connected to 5G, with their average 5G speeds, based on the amount of time they spend connected to each generation of mobile network technology. Our 5G users have both a 5G smartphone and a 5G plan.

A key factor in Telstra’s lead on Download Speed Experience – 5G Users is the high 4G speeds our users have observed. In our Mobile Network Experience Report back in April, Telstra users observed 4G speeds that were on average at least 6.4 Mbps (14.6%) faster than that observed by their counterparts on Optus or Vodafone.

Australia’s operators have recently made a number of impressive technical achievements. For example, in February Optus switched on dual-band support for 5G, allowing its use in both the 2.3 GHz and 3.5 GHz bands, while in early May, Telstra announced that its network can support 5G standalone access (SA), which allows the latest generation of 5G smartphones to connect to 5G services without assistance from a 4G network. Telstra also has a great deal of ambition as far as coverage is concerned — the operator claims that it now covers one third of Australia’s population with 5G and is seeking to increase this to 75% by June 2021.

Vodafone’s 5G service is still very new having launched only a few months ago with initial coverage in just one location. By contrast both Telstra and Optus launched their 5G services in 2019 and so their 5G service is well established and ready to be tested. We expect Vodafone’s 5G service to be included in our next 5G Australia 5G User Experience report.

Opensignal Awards Table

5G Mobile Experience Awards, Australia
August 2020, Australia Report
5G Download Speed
5G Availability
Download Speed Experience – 5G Users
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Mobile Experience Awards Winners
August 2020, Australia
5G Download Speed
Download Speed Experience – 5G Users
Mobile Experience Awards Draws
August 2020, Australia
5G Availability
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Overview

Click on metric labels below for a quick preview
5G Download Speed
in Mbps
Optus
170.0
Telstra
231.8
0 58.75 117.5 176.25 235
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

National Analysis

5G Download Speed

Opensignal's 5G results represent the end-to-end experience of users. We tested 5G Download Speed to the typical content delivery networks used to host popular mobile apps and websites

Telstra’s score of 231.8 Mbps beat the average 5G speeds observed by our Optus users — 170 Mbps — by an impressive 61.9 Mbps (36.4%), making Telstra the first ever winner of Opensignal’s 5G Download Speed award in Australia.

5G Download Speed
in Mbps
Optus
170.0
Telstra
231.8
0 58.75 117.5 176.25 235
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

The average speeds our 5G users have observed while connected to 5G services were 3.9 (Optus) or 4.6 (Telstra) times faster than the average 4G speeds our users observed in our recent Mobile Network Experience report. However, current 5G Download Speeds are far short of the 1Gbps or higher speeds that are often associated with 5G technology. This is because these are average speeds, not peak speeds, and in tests users will experience much faster 5G speeds occasionally.

In addition, Australia is yet to auction mmWave spectrum which is ideally suited to enabling even faster average 5G Download Speeds The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) expects to do so in early 2021. Even once the spectrum is in the hands of Australia’s operators, the extent to which the business case will be sufficient for it to be deployed outside of the densest urban centers remains an open question. That said, two operators (Optus and Telstra) have been testing mmWave technology and Vodafone has said that it is part of its long-term strategy.

5G Availability

Having very fast average 5G download speeds is only useful when users have a 5G connection. Opensignal's 5G Availability compares the amount of time 5G users spend connected to 5G — the higher the percentage, the more time users on a network are connected to 5G.

Telstra and Optus are statistically tied on 5G Availability — the percentage of time that our 5G users spent connected to 5G services — with scores below 9%. This is an impressive achievement for Optus, given that its commercial 5G launch took place in early November 2019, roughly five and a half months after Telstra’s.

5G Availability typically rises as operators’ rollouts progress, but we also expect it to rise once the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic diminishes as that would increase the proportion of time that our users spend in urban centres where the initial 5G deployments are concentrated.

One of the challenges associated with some 5G deployments are their use of high frequencies that have poorer propagation characteristics and indoor penetration than those used for previous generations of mobile technology. One tactic to address this issue is being employed by T-Mobile in the U.S. The strategy is to use a combination of low-band spectrum and mid-band (and in the case of New York, mmWave) spectrum to deliver a combination of enhanced speed, capacity and coverage. It is therefore interesting to see that Vodafone and Ericsson have conducted a field test of low-band 700MHz spectrum for 5G in Parramatta, with the intention of combining it with mid-band 3.5GHz spectrum.

5G Availability
in %
Optus
8.6
Telstra
8.2
0 2.5 5 7.5 10
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Download Speed Experience – 5G Users

When a user upgrades to a 5G-capable smartphone using an operator's 5G price plan, they will want to be able to experience the fastest 5G connection speed. Opensignal's 5G Download Speed award compares the part of their mobile experience where they are connected to 5G.

However, it is just as important to understand the overall speed experience that a 5G user enjoys because they spend some of their time connected to 4G and, for now, a minority of time connected to a 5G service. This is what our Download Speed Experience – 5G Users metric measures. It takes into account the average 3G and 4G Download Speed that 5G users see, as well as their average 5G Download Speed and time connected to each type of network to reveal the overall download speed experience.

Telstra has won our Download Speed Experience – 5G Users award, with a score of 52.5 Mbps, which has beaten Optus’ score of 46.7 Mbps by 5.8 Mbps (12.3%). A key factor in Telstra’s lead for this measure of the mobile network experience is the high 4G speeds our users have seen while using its network. In our Mobile Network Experience Report back in April, Telstra users observed 4G speeds that were on average at least 6.4 Mbps (14.6%) faster than that observed by their counterparts on Optus or Vodafone.

Download Speed Experience – 5G Users
in Mbps
Optus
46.7
Telstra
52.5
0 13.75 27.5 41.25 55
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

As Australia’s operators continue to roll out their 5G networks, the Download Speed Experience – 5G Users result will gradually become more influenced by average 5G speeds than 4G speeds. However, for our Australian 5G Users to spend the majority of their time connected to a 5G service the reach of 5G networks must be much greater, perhaps with the launch of 5G services on low-band sub 1GHz spectrum or through the launch of standalone 5G services which do not rely on 4G connections. Either way, the 5G experience in Australia is already many times faster than 4G, and we are only at the very beginning of a 5G era that will likely last a decade or more.

Learn more

Opensignal measures the real-world experience of consumers on mobile networks in the places they live, work and travel.

We continually adapt our methodology to best represent the true experience of smartphone users. Therefore, comparisons of the results to past reports should be considered indicative only.

For every metric we calculate statistical confidence intervals indicated on our graphs. When confidence intervals overlap, our measured results are too close to declare a winner. In those cases, we show a statistical draw. For this reason, some metrics have multiple winners.

In our bar graphs we represent confidence intervals as boundaries on either sides of graph bars. In our supporting-metric charts we show confidence intervals as +/- numerical values.

More about Methodology

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For every metric we calculate statistical confidence intervals indicated on our graphs. When confidence intervals overlap, our measured results are too close to declare a winner. In those cases, we show a statistical draw. For this reason, some metrics have multiple operator winners.

In our bar graphs we represent confidence intervals as boundaries on either sides of graph bars.

In our supporting-metric charts we show confidence intervals as +/- numerical values.

Why confidence intervals are vital in analyzing mobile network experience

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