5G User Experience Report Australia April 2021

Australia

5G User Experience Report
April 2021

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 is the outright winner of Opensignal’s new 5G Reach award

Across operators, our Telstra 5G users found a 5G signal in more locations than our users on Optus or Vodafone. Telstra wins the inaugural Australian 5G Reach award, with a score of 3.5 out of 10 points, Optus is in second-place with 2.3 points and Vodafone in last place with a score of 1.2 points. 5G Reach measures how users experience the geographical extent of an operator’s 5G network. It analyzes the average proportion of locations where users were connected to a 5G network out of all the locations those users have visited. In simple terms, 5G Reach measures the extent of the mobile experience in all the locations that matter most to everyday users — i.e. all the places where they live, work and travel. 5G Reach for each operator is measured on a scale from 0 to 10.

Telstra and Optus are the joint winners of the 5G Download Speed award

Our Telstra and Optus users see the fastest 5G download speeds with average 5G download speeds of approximately 245 Mbps using both networks. However, there was a marked gap between Vodafone’s score and that of its rivals, as our Vodafone 5G users observed average download speeds of 138.5 Mbps when connected to 5G, over 100 Mbps slower than experienced using Telstra or Optus.

Our Telstra users spent the most time connected to 5G

Telstra is the winner of the 5G Availability award with a score of 11.5%, four percentage points ahead of second-placed Optus and 7.5 percentage points ahead of Vodafone. Opensignal's 5G Availability quantifies the amount of time 5G users spend connected to 5G — the higher the percentage, the more time users on a network are actually connected to 5G.

Optus, Telstra and Vodafone tie across all three of our 5G experiential metrics

Our 5G users did not see any statistically significant differences across all three operators’ networks in terms of the quality of experience when streaming video, communicating using over-the-top voice apps or playing multiplayer mobile games over a mobile 5G connection. As a consequence, Optus, Telstra and Vodafone are joint winners of the 5G Video Experience, 5G Games Experience and 5G Voice App Experience awards. All three operators received Excellent (75 or above) ratings for 5G Video Experience, Good (75-85) ratings for 5G Games Experience and Good (80-87) ratings for 5G Voice App Experience. This indicates that there is some room for improvement, particularly in terms of these last two metrics.

Introduction

In Opensignal’s latest analysis of the 5G User experience in Australia we reveal a fiercely competitive state of play. While Telstra’s 5G network is available more of the time in more locations, four out of six 5G awards have been won jointly by two or more operators. All three operators are statistically tied for 5G Video Experience, 5G Games Experience and 5G Voice App Experience and have placed in the same categories for each of these measures of the mobile experience.

There was far more differentiation in terms of 5G Availability — the proportion of time that our 5G users spent connected to 5G — and 5G Reach — a measure of the average proportion of locations where 5G users have connected to a 5G network out of all the locations those users have visited. Telstra won both of these awards outright and by impressive margins.

Turning to recent developments in Australia’s 5G landscape, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) completed its auction of spectrum in the 26 GHz band in April. 358 out of 360 lots were sold. Telstra bought the highest number of lots (150), followed by Optus (116) and TPG Telecom’s (which owns the Vodafone Australia brand) subsidiary Mobile JV Pty Limited (86). The licences will come into effect around the middle of this year, but according to Telstra, the ACMA is enabling early access licensing, which will allow the operator to use it sooner. 26 GHz spectrum can be used to provide ultra-high speed 5G mmWave services, but due to their propagation characteristics their reach is similar to that of public wifi.

Telstra has said that it has completed testing the use of 5G on 850 MHz spectrum and that this capability is ready for commercial use. Telstra’s 3G service is currently using this spectrum but the operator will shut down its 3G network in mid-2024. Due to declining traffic on it, Telstra believes it can repurpose some of this 850 MHz spectrum to support 5G before that point. This will make it easier for Telstra to serve rural areas with its 5G network, especially as the operator has stated that it believes this approach can support 5G data sessions across distances of over 80 kilometers. In addition, the operator said in March that it was on track to reach 75% 5G population coverage by the end of June. Also in March, Telstra announced that it had switched on its 3,000th 5G site.

Meanwhile, Optus has completed testing of its capability to combine 2100 MHz and 3500 MHz spectrum via 5G carrier aggregation and spectrum sharing technology. This will enable faster data transmission rates and improved network performance. In its announcement the operator said that it would be rolling out this capability in the coming months. Recently, Optus claimed to have over 1,000 5G sites in operation in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra, as well as in key areas outside of these cities.

Vodafone intends to have more than 1,000 live 5G sites by the end of this year across Australia’s six most populated cities and in other areas of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. The operator claimed in late April to have 5G operational in over 350 suburbs and more than 1,600 sites in the planning and development phase.

We have also published a companion report — Australia Mobile Network Experience April 2021 — which analyzes the overall experience of all our mobile users in the country.

Opensignal Awards Table

5G Mobile Experience Awards, Australia
April 2021, Australia Report
5G Availability
5G Reach
5G Video Experience
5G Games Experience
5G Voice App Experience
5G Download Speed
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Mobile Experience Awards Winners
April 2021, Australia
5G Availability
5G Reach
Mobile Experience Awards Draws
April 2021, Australia
5G Video Experience
5G Games Experience
5G Voice App Experience
5G Download Speed
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Overview

Click on metric labels below for a quick preview
5G Availability
in %
Optus
7.5
Telstra
11.5
Vodafone
4.0
0 3.75 7.5 11.25 15
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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National Analysis

5G Availability

Telstra is the outright winner of the 5G Availability award with a score of 11.5%, four percentage points ahead of second-placed Optus and 7.5 percentage points ahead of Vodafone. This means that our Telstra 5G users — those with both a 5G capable phone and a 5G mobile package — spent 11.5% of their time connected to 5G. In essence, our 5G users experience the high quality 5G network experience much more of the time using Telstra than with Optus or Vodafone.

Telstra’s outright win for 5G Availability is in contrast to 4G Availability as Vodafone and Optus are joint winners for that award in our companion report — however, Telstra was only 0.5 of a percentage point behind the two winners’ scores.

5G Availability
in %
Optus
7.5
Telstra
11.5
Vodafone
4.0
0 3.75 7.5 11.25 15
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Reach

5G Reach is a measure of the average proportion of locations where 5G users have connected to a 5G network out of all the locations those users have visited. Telstra is our inaugural winner of Opensignal’s 5G Reach award with a score of 3.5 out of 10 points, Optus in second-place with 2.3 points and Vodafone in last place with a score of 1.2 points. This means our Telstra 5G users experience the extremely fast 5G experience in more locations than do our users when connecting with Optus or Vodafone’s networks.

Telstra also won our 4G Coverage Experience award outright in our companion report by a comfortable margin. This is relevant to the 5G experience as while Telstra has enabled 5G standalone access (SA) on its 5G network, not every 5G phone supports it and those that don’t must be connected to a 4G network when using 5G.

5G Reach
in 0-10 points
Optus
2.3
Telstra
3.5
Vodafone
1.2
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Video Experience

Our first look at the 5G Video Experience in Australia reveals a statistical dead-heat between Optus, Telstra and Vodafone. All three operators placed in the Excellent (75 or above) category. In our companion report, when we looked at the Video Experience across all generations of mobile technology, only Vodafone achieved an Excellent rating, highlighting the uplift to the mobile experience that 5G can provide.

An Excellent 5G Video Experience rating indicates a very consistent experience across all users, video streaming providers and resolutions tested, with fast loading times and almost non-existent stalling, when connected to 5G.

5G Video Experience
in 0-100 points
Optus
81.1
Telstra
81.2
Vodafone
78.2
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Games Experience

When it comes to playing multiplayer games over a 5G connection, our users across all three operators’ networks saw little difference. Optus, Telstra and Vodafone are joint winners for the 5G Games Experience award and all three operators obtained Good (75-85) ratings.

This means that most of our users deemed the experience acceptable when playing over a 5G connection. The gameplay experience was generally controllable and the user received immediate feedback between their actions and the outcomes in the game. Most users did not experience a delay between their actions and the game.

All three operators were also tied for Games Experience in our companion report, which looks at the overall experience across all generations of mobile technology. However, they placed in the Fair (65-75) category, one category behind that seen by our 5G users.

Our results indicate that if Australia’s operators wish to target mobile gamers and provide a superior experience to that of their rivals, then they will need to increase their focus on reducing latency, jitter and packet loss.

5G Games Experience
in 0-100 points
Optus
84.1
Telstra
83.1
Vodafone
82.3
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Voice App Experience

Optus, Telstra and Vodafone are joint winners of the 5G Voice App Experience award, due to a statistical tie. All three operators’ scores were above 83 out of 100, placing them in the Good (80-87) category.

This means that many users were satisfied when using over-the-top voice apps such as WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook Messenger over a 5G connection. However, some users experienced minor quality impairments — sometimes the background was not quite clear, it could have been either hazy or not loud enough. Clicking sounds or distortion were very occasionally present.

5G Voice App Experience
in 0-100 points
Optus
83.5
Telstra
83.9
Vodafone
83.6
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Download Speed

Australian 5G users see much slower overall speeds than their 5G-only speeds

Our Telstra and Optus users observed the highest average 5G download speeds in Australia and as a result, the two operators are the joint winners of our 5G Download Speed award. Our users on their networks observed average 5G download speeds around 245 Mbps. Telstra’s 5G Download Speed score was 5.3 times faster than its overall Download Speed Experience score in our companion report, while Optus’ was 6.5 times faster. Vodafone’s 5G Download Speed score of 138.5 Mbps was significantly behind that of its rivals and was 3.6 times faster than its Download Speed Experience score.

The chart above compares the three operators’ 5G Download Speed scores against those for Download Speed Experience – 5G Users. The latter is a measure of the overall average download speeds seen by our 5G users — those with both a 5G device and a 5G subscription — across all generations of mobile network technology.

Our users’ speeds when they are connected to 5G are impressive, but as long as the proportion of time that they spend connected to 5G is low their overall experience will mainly reflect that seen on 4G networks. For example, our Optus 5G users reported average speeds of 239.6 Mbps when connected to 5G, but this falls to 82.5 Mbps when we look at their overall experience and also include the speeds they saw when connected to 3G and 4G. However, as 5G rollouts continue the overall speeds experienced by 5G users will increasingly reflect those seen when they are connected to 5G networks.

5G Download Speed
in Mbps
Optus
239.6
Telstra
253.8
Vodafone
138.5
0 63.75 127.5 191.25 255
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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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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