Australia

5G Experience Report
October 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

Optus wins the 5G Download Speed award outright

In our last report, our Optus and Telstra users observed the joint fastest download speeds when connected to 5G. This time around, Optus is the sole winner of the 5G Download Speed award with a lead of 42.8 Mbps (18.6%) over second-placed Telstra. Optus was able to break the statistical tie that existed between it and Telstra due to a 32.8 Mbps (13.7%) increase in its score, while our Telstra users saw their average 5G speeds decline by 24.1 Mbps (9.5%). Meanwhile, Vodafone’s 5G speeds rose by 14.8 Mbps (10.7%) to reach 153.2 Mbps, but both Optus and Telstra users are a long way ahead of our Vodafone users for 5G Download Speed.

Our Telstra users saw the fastest 5G upload speeds

Telstra is the outright winner of the 5G Upload Speed award with a score of 17 Mbps and a lead of 1.1 Mbps over second-placed Optus, which scored 15.8 Mbps. Vodafone is in third place with a score of 12.5 Mbps. Upload speeds are becoming increasingly important due to the popularity of social media, which encourages users to share images and videos.

Telstra continues to dominate on 5G Availability and 5G Reach

Telstra has once again won the 5G Availability and 5G Reach awards outright — the operator came first for 5G Availability with a score of 15.9%. Telstra’s lead has more than doubled since our last report — 8.5 percentage points ahead of second-placed Optus. Telstra’s score rose by 4.5 percentage points, while Optus’ was statistically unchanged from our last report. Meanwhile, Vodafone’s 5G Availability score increased by 1.8 percentage points to 5.8%. 5G Availability is the proportion of time that 5G users had an active 5G connection, while 5G Reach is a measure of how mobile users experience the geographical extent of an operator’s network. In summary, our Telstra users can access 5G technology in more of the locations they visit and for more of the time than other operators’ users.

Optus and Vodafone are joint winners of the 5G Voice App Experience award

In our April 2021 report, all three operators were statistically tied for the top spot for the experience of our users when using voice apps over 5G networks. This time around, Telstra has dropped out of contention, leaving the glory to Optus and Vodafone. While all three operators’ scores have slightly fallen since our last report, they all remain in the Good (80-87) category. This means that many users were satisfied, but some experienced minor quality impairments.

All three operators share the 5G Video Experience and 5G Games Experience awards

For the second time in a row our users observed no statistically significant difference between Optus, Telstra and Vodafone when streaming video or playing multiplayer mobile games over the operators’ 5G networks. All three operators have retained their Excellent ratings for 5G Video Experience (75 or above) and continued to place in the Good (75-85) category for 5G Games Experience.

Introduction

A glance at our awards table shows that the 5G experience continues to be competitive between Australian operators, with three out of seven awards held by more than one operator due to statistical ties. However, Telstra is the sole winner of the 5G Upload Speed award and Optus succeeded in breaking the tie from our last report to win the 5G Download Speed award outright.

There have been many 5G-related developments in the Australian mobile market since our last report. Back in June, Telstra claimed to have reached 75% population coverage with its 5G network. As part of the operator’s new ‘T25’ strategy, it is aiming to increase this to 95% by the end of the 2025 financial year (30 June 2025). By that date, Telstra also expects 80% of its mobile traffic to be on its 5G network.

In early September, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) began accepting applications for the auctioning of spectrum in the 850/900 MHz band (NR bands n26 and n8), which is due to take place in late November. A total of 70 MHz of paired spectrum is up for auction and bidders will be restricted to holding a maximum of 82 MHz of sub-1 GHz spectrum in the country’s post populated areas and 92 MHz elsewhere. This new spectrum will help Australia’s operators improve 5G’s accessibility, especially in suburban and rural areas.

Higher frequency spectrum bands help to improve capacity and boost 5G speeds, video and gaming experience. In August, Vodafone Australia signed an agreement to obtain additional mid-band 5G spectrum in the 3.6 GHz band from Dense Air. Optus activated commercial mmWave 5G in six locations in May, while in June Telstra said that it had 50 operational mmWave sites across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Goulburn and the Gold Coast. In the U.S. we have seen mmWave 5G boost capacity enormously.

Another way of enhancing the 5G experience is to move ahead with newer 5G standards that aim to improve responsiveness. Vodafone announced the activation a standalone access (SA) 5G service in parts of Sydney, while Telstra claimed to have enabled a SA 5G service back in May 2020.

In this report, we've analyzed real-world 5G data gathered in the 90 days starting July 1 and ending September 28, 2021 to see how Australia’s three national operators — Optus, Telstra and Vodafone — stack up. Our results in this report use measurements from our users when they were connected to 5G networks. In addition, we have analyzed the 5G experience in four leading 5G cities: Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

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

Opensignal Awards Table

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

Click on metric labels below for a quick preview
5G Availability
in %
Optus
7.4
Telstra
15.9
Vodafone
5.8
0 5 10 15 20
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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National Analysis

5G Availability

In addition to winning the 5G Availability award outright for the second time in a row, Telstra has also extended its already impressive lead by a considerable degree. In our last report our Telstra 5G users spent 11.5% of their time connected to 5G, this has risen to 15.9%, an increase of 4.5 percentage points. As second-placed Optus’s score is statistically unchanged from our last report, Telstra’s lead extended to a remarkable 8.5 percentage points. Meanwhile, third-placed Vodafone saw the second largest improvement since our last report, with its score rising from 4% to 5.8%. Opensignal 5G Availability shows the proportion of time Opensignal users with a 5G device and subscription had an active 5G connection.

5G Availability
in %
Optus
7.4
Telstra
15.9
Vodafone
5.8
0 5 10 15 20
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Reach

Telstra has also extended its lead in 5G Reach — which measures how mobile users experience the geographical extent of an operator’s 5G network. In our previous report, the operator won the 5G Reach award with a score of 3.5 points on a scale of 0-10 and by a lead of 1.2 points over second-placed Optus. This time around, Telstra’s score has increased to 4.7 and its lead over Optus rose to 1.7 points. While Vodafone is still a considerable way behind its rivals, its score has more than doubled since our last report — from 1.2 to 2.4. Optus has made more measured progress — its score increased by 0.7 to reach 3 points.

5G Reach
in 0-10 points
Optus
3.0
Telstra
4.7
Vodafone
2.4
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Video Experience

Once again, our users saw no significant difference between their experience when streaming video over 5G services from Australia’s three operators. Optus, Telstra and Vodafone remain joint winners of the 5G Video Experience award and remain in the Excellent (75 or above) category. An Excellent 5G Video Experience indicates a very consistent experience across all users, video streaming providers and resolutions tested, with fast loading times and almost non-existent stalling.

5G Video Experience
in 0-100 points
Optus
77.7
Telstra
78.1
Vodafone
77.3
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Games Experience

Similarly to 5G Video Experience, our users continued to observe no statistically significant difference between Australia’s three national operators when playing multiplayer mobile games using 5G. All three operators continued to place in the Good (75-85) category for 5G Games Experience, despite declines of 3.6-4 points in their scores since our last report. A Good 5G Games Experience means that most users deemed the experience acceptable. 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.

5G Games Experience
in 0-100 points
Optus
80.1
Telstra
79.5
Vodafone
78.6
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Voice App Experience

Last time around, all three operators statistically tied for the 5G Voice App Experience award. However, the tie has narrowed to now be a two-way draw between Optus and Vodafone. This change was principally caused by Telstra’s score dropping by 3.1 points to 80.8 points. However, all three operators remain in the Good (80-87) category. This means that many users were satisfied, but some experienced minor quality impairments.

5G Voice App Experience
in 0-100 points
Optus
81.8
Telstra
80.8
Vodafone
81.7
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Download Speed

Optus is the outright winner of the 5G Download Speed award, with an impressive score of 272.4 Mbps. The speeds observed by our users on Optus’ 5G network are 32.8 Mbps (13.7%) faster than the speeds seen in the last report. This increase coupled with a 24.1 Mbps (9.5%) decline in speeds seen by our Telstra users catapulted Optus into a clear first place after both operators statistically tied last time around. Optus commanded a lead of 42.8 Mbps over Telstra in this report. Vodafone users’ speeds rose by 14.8 Mbps (10.7%) to reach 153.2 Mbps, but the operator still has a lot of ground to make up if it wishes to challenge its rivals for first place.

Optus and Telstra were recently recognised at the global level in our 5G Global Mobile Network Experience Awards 2021 report, with both operators placing as 5G Global Leaders for 5G Download Speed.

5G Download Speed
in Mbps
Optus
272.4
Telstra
229.6
Vodafone
153.2
0 68.75 137.5 206.25 275
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Upload Speed

In contrast with 5G Download Speed, it was our Telstra users that observed the fastest upload speeds when connected to 5G, making it the outright winner of the 5G Upload Speed award. Telstra wins with a score of 17 Mbps and a lead of 1.1 Mbps over second-placed Optus, which scored 15.8 Mbps. Vodafone is in third place with a score of 12.5 Mbps. Upload speeds are becoming increasingly important due to the popularity of social media, which encourages users to share images and videos.

5G Upload Speed
in Mbps
Optus
15.8
Telstra
17.0
Vodafone
12.5
0 5 10 15 20
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Regional Analysis

Looking at the 5G Experience in four metropolitan areas — Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney — Telstra dominates our city-level awards table, racking up 12 outright wins out of a possible 28 awards, along with 13 joint wins. Meanwhile, Optus achieved two outright wins — both for 5G Download Speed — along with 14 joint wins, mostly for our experiential categories: 5G Video Experience, 5G Games Experience and 5G Voice App Experience. On the other hand, Vodafone did not pick up any outright wins, but is a joint winner for 11 city-level awards, all of which are for our experiential categories.

Telstra wins outright for both 5G Availability and 5G Reach in all four cities. Our Telstra 5G users in Brisbane spent an impressive 26% of their time connected to 5G. Telstra’s lowest city-level score — 14.5% in Perth — was higher than Optus and Vodafone’s best scores for 5G Availability. Optus’ scores ranged from 10.2% in Sydney to 8.8% in Brisbane, while Vodafone’s were between the 6.5% reported by our users in Melbourne and 4.9% in Perth. Shifting to 5G Reach — which is measured on a 10 point scale — Telstra’s scores exceeded the 5.5 mark in all but Perth, where Telstra users reported a score of 4.7 points. Optus’ scores were in the 3.5-3.7 point range in all but Sydney (4.2 points). Our Vodafone users found 5G in roughly a quarter of the locations they visited in three cities, with scores between 2.3 and 2.5 points in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney, but its score came in at 2.9 points in Melbourne.

Shifting to 5G Download Speed, Optus, the winner of the national award, wins outright in both Melbourne and Sydney, while statistically tying with Telstra in Perth. Telstra wins the remaining award for 5G Download Speed in Brisbane. Optus’ scores in Sydney and Melbourne were well over the 300 Mbps mark, but under 200 Mbps in Brisbane and Perth. Telstra’s scores ranged from 184.4 Mbps in Perth to 255.8 Mbps in Brisbane, while Vodafone’s were between 123.9 Mbps in Perth and 170.3 Mbps in Melbourne.

Looking at 5G upload speeds, Telstra wins outright in Brisbane and Perth, but statistically ties with Optus in Melbourne and Sydney. Optus’ scores in the latter two cities (21.3 Mbps in Sydney, 19.7 in Melbourne) were roughly double those in Brisbane and Perth, while Telstra and Vodafone’s scores were less variable, ranging between 15.7 Mbps and 19.7 Mbps for Telstra and 11.1-13.5 Mbps for Vodafone.

Our users saw little difference across cities between the three operators on 5G experiential metrics — all three are joint winners in all four cities for both 5G Video Experience and 5G Voice App Experience. In addition, all three operators placed in the same categories across these cities for both these awards — in the Excellent (75 or above) category for 5G Video Experience and the Good (80-87) category for 5G Voice App Experience.

Turning to 5G Games Experience — Telstra was the only operator to win a city award outright. It did so in Sydney, with a score of 87.4 on a 100 point scale, and also earned the only Excellent (85 or above) rating across all operators and cities. In Melbourne, Optus and Vodafone share the top spot for 5G Games Experience, while our users reported three-way ties in Brisbane and Perth. Perth was the only city where our users reported a Fair 5G Games Experience (65-75) and they did so across all three operators. In the other cities all operator scores placed in the Good (75-85) category with the exception of Telstra’s Excellent rating in Sydney.

Select any region or city below to display individual breakdown

Brisbane

5G Availability
in Brisbane
in %
Optus
8.8
Telstra
26.0
Vodafone
6.4
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5G Reach
in Brisbane
in 0-10 points
Optus
3.7
Telstra
5.7
Vodafone
2.3
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5G Video Experience
in Brisbane
in 0-100 points
Optus
78.6
Telstra
76.8
Vodafone
79.9
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5G Games Experience
in Brisbane
in 0-100 points
Optus
81.0
Telstra
80.5
Vodafone
76.3
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5G Voice App Experience
in Brisbane
in 0-100 points
Optus
83.2
Telstra
81.3
Vodafone
82.2
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5G Download Speed
in Brisbane
in Mbps
Optus
192.9
Telstra
255.8
Vodafone
154.6
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5G Upload Speed
in Brisbane
in Mbps
Optus
10.0
Telstra
17.0
Vodafone
13.4
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Melbourne

5G Availability
in Melbourne
in %
Optus
9.2
Telstra
19.3
Vodafone
6.5
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5G Reach
in Melbourne
in 0-10 points
Optus
3.6
Telstra
5.9
Vodafone
2.9
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5G Video Experience
in Melbourne
in 0-100 points
Optus
79.4
Telstra
78.2
Vodafone
76.3
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5G Games Experience
in Melbourne
in 0-100 points
Optus
83.4
Telstra
78.8
Vodafone
82.3
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5G Voice App Experience
in Melbourne
in 0-100 points
Optus
82.0
Telstra
80.9
Vodafone
82.7
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5G Download Speed
in Melbourne
in Mbps
Optus
340.9
Telstra
242.5
Vodafone
170.3
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5G Upload Speed
in Melbourne
in Mbps
Optus
19.7
Telstra
18.6
Vodafone
13.5
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Perth

5G Availability
in Perth
in %
Optus
9.3
Telstra
14.5
Vodafone
4.9
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5G Reach
in Perth
in 0-10 points
Optus
3.5
Telstra
4.7
Vodafone
2.3
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5G Video Experience
in Perth
in 0-100 points
Optus
78.9
Telstra
78.8
Vodafone
78.1
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5G Games Experience
in Perth
in 0-100 points
Optus
69.3
Telstra
71.8
Vodafone
71.0
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5G Voice App Experience
in Perth
in 0-100 points
Optus
81.2
Telstra
80.1
Vodafone
82.3
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5G Download Speed
in Perth
in Mbps
Optus
195.5
Telstra
184.4
Vodafone
123.9
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5G Upload Speed
in Perth
in Mbps
Optus
9.3
Telstra
15.7
Vodafone
11.1
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Sydney

5G Availability
in Sydney
in %
Optus
10.2
Telstra
17.8
Vodafone
6.3
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5G Reach
in Sydney
in 0-10 points
Optus
4.2
Telstra
5.6
Vodafone
2.5
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5G Video Experience
in Sydney
in 0-100 points
Optus
77.2
Telstra
78.6
Vodafone
78.8
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5G Games Experience
in Sydney
in 0-100 points
Optus
83.6
Telstra
87.4
Vodafone
83.2
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5G Voice App Experience
in Sydney
in 0-100 points
Optus
81.5
Telstra
82.1
Vodafone
82.1
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5G Download Speed
in Sydney
in Mbps
Optus
332.8
Telstra
230.6
Vodafone
150.8
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5G Upload Speed
in Sydney
in Mbps
Optus
21.3
Telstra
19.7
Vodafone
12.6
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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.

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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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