Optus 4G Review: Player Two Has Entered The Game

Optus has picked up the P2 controller in Australia's game of 4G deathmatch to challenge reigning champion, Telstra. Can it fight to the top?

What Is It?

Optus 4G is an 1800Mhz network that is currently live in Sydney, Newcastle, Perth and Melbourne with more capital cities to come in the next 12 months.

Currently supported on the network is a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot made by Huawei and the Samsung Galaxy S III 4G which is launching in coming weeks. We tested the network with the 4G hotspot, so we'll review both the device and the network.

What's Good?

As far as the network goes, the speed is impressive. We tested around the Sydney area in a loop around the coverage network. Areas in the covered suburbs were chosen at random and three tests of the network's up speed, down speed and ping were recorded.

Here are the results:


Average speeds are equal to that of your home ADSL2+ connection. The ping is a little sketchy at times, though, so don't expect to get any decent gaming sessions.

The on-street coverage for Optus 4G in supported areas is great. You're never short of a connection and you're not waiting for long on a congested network. I'd hazard a guess that because the network is new it's also reasonably empty.

As far as the Huawei 4G Wi-Fi modem is concerned, you'll be browsing for around five hours before you're looking for a charger. The build quality is top notch and the browser-based information page is great.

What's Bad?

I've mentioned before that I think battery is the single biggest failing of these 4G devices. The battery on the Huawei modem could be better for a device of its size.

While we're on the device, it's also worth mentioning that the screen is tiny and awful to read in direct sunlight and the process for getting the SSID and security key is unfathomable at first.

The only network gripe I have is that the in-building coverage with Optus 4G does leave a bit to be desired.

Should You Buy It?

Optus hasn't just built an impressive new mobile network, here. It's built a new standard for speed. Before Optus came on the scene, 4G in Australia was tested in a relative vacuum, as Telstra dominated. Now, though, the 4G scene has four players, making the game a lot more interesting for competition, and a lot friendlier on your wallet.

Optus can certainly put its network where its mouth is in terms of speed, but this isn't the device or the telco that will bring 4G to the masses. Not yet, anyway. In-building coverage is where the device is lacking. Plus, when you leave the 4G coverage area, you'll roll back onto the Optus 3G network which leaves a bit to be desired.

Optus 4G is still for latté-sipping, city-dwellers who rarely venture outside the confines of their trendy CBD-burrows. Those trapped in suburbia and especially those relegated to the rural parts of Australia will be left without Optus 4G for the foreseeable future.

Optus is working to refarm its 3G network around the country, before giving 4G to other capital cities, and then expanding it outwards to rural and regional areas from there. That means regional folk will be waiting over a year for this sweet 4G coverage. This is where Telstra's 12-month head start brings the pain for Optus.

If you want a fast, reliable and high-speed 4G network you can use in more places around Australia, Telstra is still the only player relevant to you. Here's hoping Optus throws everything it has at expanding its 4G faster.

For the city-bound latté-swillers, though, this network is amazing.



    I will not be renewing my Optus mobile broadband contract in the next few months to get 4G because quite frankly from what I'm reading I won't get the damn thing until early next year where I live. Unlike Telstra (whom I am now with) that threw out 4G here there and everywhere pretty quick, Optus is taking an approach that I find lacking to it's customers. Plus Telstra nets you much faster speeds than what Optus is offering, where else can you get 4MB/s? It's two times faster than ADSL2+

    "Average speeds are equal to that of your home ADSL2+ connection"
    In my case, it's way more than my existing connection with TPG.

      The only speed there that my ADSL2+ comes close to is the Mascot speed...

        I wish I had Mascot speed, some days on TPG I wish I had any connection at all!

          Yeah I know a fair few who would love speeds like that. Mate of mine on ADSL2+ less than 500M in a straight line down the road from him the area has cable internet, and his ADSL2 is on barely ADSL1 speeds it's appalling!

            Cable and ADSL2+ are not the same thing, your buddy might want to look into switching away from cable more than likely the problem is theres a high number of cable users in the area. Although there are instances where people close to the exchange end up on the end of a 5km loop those are exceedingly rare.

    ADSL2+ is asymmetrical .. meaning upload is max of around 1MBps and download of a max 20 MBps (if anyone has seen 20 i'd be amazed !)

    Just saying ...

      I constantly have had 20+ at both of my residences.. so be amazed. One was in Caramar NSW and the other, where I am now, is Hornsby NSW. Both very solid, stable connections with amazingly fast ADSL2+. First place was with TPG and now I am with iiNet. Towards the end of my residence at Carramar, I did start to have congestion issues with TPG but for the first 4 years living there, no problems at all.

      So that "max" is not just theoretical.. just because you have never experienced it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. :)

        Wow. That's among the highest ADSL2 download rates I've heard of though, and I work at an ISP so your experience is far from common. Most customers are in the 6-8mbps range. Anything above 12 and you're in the lucky minority. Anything above 16 and you must live very close to your exchange.

          I was surprised at my rate in Hornsby because, from what I know of the exchange location, there is a train line in the middle.. but maybe there is another exchange that I am not aware of that is closer than that one. With the one in Carramar, I did live very close to the exchange..

          I know it's definitely not common.. but there you go.. just lucky I guess.

            I'm on iiNet in the inner west of sydney and get a stable 17 Mbps where I am.
            20 MBps is not the maximum (that'd be nice!) - 24 Mbps is (note the lowercase b there) which ends up being a bit over 2 megabytes in practical terms.

              24Mbps isn't even a strict limit, it can go higher (although they are bloody rare)

          I get 21mbps in Richmond VIC, but I am about 400m from the exchange - it certainly can happen.

          That said I agree with Awallafashagba in that the symmetry of 4G is pretty cool. Every time I get excited about some HD video conferencing device coming out, I remember my cruddy upload speeds...

        Are you basing this off Speedtest.net results? Or actual download speeds of a ISO or something? I used to get crazy results with Speedtest but my actual download speeds from Rapidshare (Premium unlimited) rarely go over 2.4 or so

    On average about 5x the speed of my ADSL2+ connection.

    Should just use this instead.

    ...Average speeds are equal to that of your home ADSL2+ connection...

    Shhh, don't let Malcolm Turnbull hear you!

      Also, speed tests for a network that only has one device supported, and one phone "on the way"? Sorry, but these figures will be irrelevant as more and more 4G devices start eating it up (I'm looking at you iPhone 5 and Galaxy S 3 4G).

      How about another network speed test in 3-6 months time?

        Yep, massively agreed.
        When Virgin broadband came out it massively flopped due to Optus's network. They had to let people out of their contracts fee free because the service was so poor, I'm amazed they still sell it today.

        The only thing keeping people on board is Telstra's insane prices and Voda's lack of 4G.


    But speed tests should also have Telstra 4G results in the same locations for a better comparison.

    Also, as Sam said above, we won't really know how they'll hold up until the network is saturated in a few months time. Not that this is problem with the article - just worth thinking about)

    4 4G players? I can only count two 4G networks - Telstra and Optus.

    Resellers don't count.

      I don't know how they get four either. Even though we have four main telecoms, Virgin and Optus are basically the same.

    I'm leaving Optus after 15 years for my next mobile. 3G has been spotty with them for the past couple of years that i've had a smart phone (i still can't get a 3G signal in my house), and the fact that 4G isn't available to me in Canberra is the last straw.

      I did that just 2 months ago. Left Optus after contracts back 15 years. Now an Outright phone on a Vodafone prepaid. Sweet as now. No drop outs that I can remember and decent speeds.

    Considering what has hapened to the (now optus owned) Vivid Wireless network, I'm fairly meh about this.
    Essentially, far too much contention on vivid and priority was given to the users who signed up "full time" rather than those (like me) who kept it on an as needed basis. I saw amazing speeds earlier on in Vivid's day only to have it dwindle to a pitiful and extremely painful experience each time I used them.
    No, think I'll be giving this a miss for now.

      Just wondering, has anyone managed to use a Virgin Mobile SIM in an optus 4g modem or hotspot? I want to buy the modem outright from optus and use the Virgin SIM card in the modem, as the virgin mobile plans seem to be cheaper

    Considering it has just come out, no surprises there's little info. But anyone have any idea of what Virgin performance (on a 4g handset) is like considering Virgin is lower priority on their network and what have you?

    Telsta 4G isn't real 4G. Optus has a lot more 4G frequency which is to the international standard. Optus won't make the same mistake by flooding the network as they did with 3G in the past and they have been preparing the network for the iPhone5 and GS3 4G. If 4G is something that interest you, if your in a 4G area you'll be better off with Optus, and for those who aren't be patient - in the end Optus will have the better 4G network.

    I have 18mbit ADSL2+ right now with dodo, not bad for Australia.

    Unfortuntely still piss slow compared to the 100mbit cable connection I had in Canada...not sure why providers here stick with ADSL2+ when things like VDSL came out a long time ago to combat DOCSIS 2.0, and VDSL2 has been out to combat DOCSIS 3.0...

    The telecos had no choice but to go with VDSL to compete with the much higher speeds (not to mention lack of distance restrictions) of the cable providers.

    This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

    Hi @Rick, just to clarify - yes, essentially this is the standard BYO scenario, we have more info on this here - https://vmainternal.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/11069/kw/4G @Paul, Virgin is definitely not a lower priority on the network. Traffic is traffic from a network perspective. ;)

    Haha I laugh at these results,I both work for Telstra and have a one xl 4g and our 3g speeds are equivalent to there 4g speeds.our regular speed test result on 4g is anywhere between 28-40mbps and on gold coast up to 65mbps and soon to become 100mbps so I fail to see how Optus will top that.if I was yous I would pay the extra $10-20 and you'll get the real premium service on telstras 4G network.they know what they are doing

    I'm on Telstra 4G (iPhone 5) and when I go to uni in Parramatta, I constantly get speeds of 45Mbps and above with pings of 30-40ms. I love the Telstra network. Worth paying the higher price.

    I'm not even able to get adsl2 in Newcastle, due to Telstra's lack of infrastructure. Currently my speedtest.net
    29 ms ping - 1.24 Mbps down - 0.21 Mbps - Adsl 1
    38 ms ping - 37.15 Mbps down - 10.41 Mbps up - Optus 4g
    Goodbye Telstra ADSL1 & landline hello Optus 4G

    im waiting the nbn broadband so im geting 5mgbit speed from tpg and i can get when i get nbn 24 mgbit so when im connected to the fiber optic whatever im far from the exchanger i will get full speed so we must be patience guys 2 years all australia will be connect to nbn and 4g network :)

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