Australia’s Best Mobile Network According to Real World Tests

Australia’s Best Mobile Network According to Real World Tests
Image: Rick & Morty
To sign up for our daily newsletter covering the latest news, features and reviews, head HERE. For a running feed of all our stories, follow us on Twitter HERE. Or you can bookmark the Gizmodo Australia homepage to visit whenever you need a news fix.

There’s more to a phone plan than just the price and how much data it comes with. The network is equally important, and there’s no way to gauge performance by just looking at a list of plans.

The best networks in Australia and New Zealand

Global mobile data analyst Tutela recently dropped its latest annual State of Mobile Experience report looking at how Australia’s three big telco networks stack up. The State of Mobile Experience is based on real-world smartphone users, derived from the results of more than 17 million speed and latency tests taken between April 1 and September 30 this year.

It should be noted that the 17 million tests also include figures from New Zealand – Tutela was not able to provide a breakdown as to the specific number of tests that were taken in Australia. Locally, these tests come from locations where Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone all have coverage.

The State of Mobile Experience report covers five key metrics: download speed, upload speed, latency, “core consistent quality”, and “excellent consistent quality”.

Telstra unsurprisingly did well when it came to consistency and download speed, but Vodafone bested Big T on upload and latency, but here’s a more detailed look at how our three networks stacked up.

Best plans for consistent quality

Telstra came out on top for both “excellent consistent quality” and “core consistent quality”.

Excellent consistent quality refers to what portion of a network is suitable for more demanding activities, like streaming high definition video, while core consistent quality refers to the percentage of the network that can handle more basic tasks, such as streaming standard definition video and uploading photos to social media.

Tutela found 86.1% of Telstra’s network met the threshold for excellent consistent quality in common coverage areas, while 95.6% of its network met the mark for core consistent quality. Vodafone followed with 84.5% and 94.9%, for excellent and core, respectively, while Optus came in last with 81.5% and 94.4%.

While Telstra is the clear winner, the good news is that every Aussie network exceeded 90% for core consistent quality.

Here’s Telstra’s current range of SIM-only plans:

If you’re looking to bag a bargain on a Telstra plan, there’s two promos currently worth considering. The first relates to Big T’s 80GB plan – you can save $10 per month for your first year, bringing down our monthly fee to $55 per month. You’ll pay full price after, but the plan is contract-free so you can always leave or swap plans after. This deal is available until November 16.

If you’re after something a little larger, Telstra is currently offering a $50 per month discount on its 180GB plan. This brings it down to $65 per month for your first year, after which you’ll pay $115 per month. Once again, this plan is contract-free so you can always drop down to a more affordable plan after the discount runs out.

Both deals can also be paired with a new phone.

Alternatively, click here to check out plans from providers powered by the Telstra network.

Best plans for speed

If you’re after a fast mobile plan, Telstra won when it came to download speed in common coverage areas, while Vodafone performed best in terms of upload speed.

When it came to download speed, the report found Telstra had a median download speed of 27.8Mbps, followed by Optus at 23.7Mbps, and Vodafone just a hair behind at 23.3Mbps. On the other hand, the Vodafone network clocked median upload speeds of 12.8Mbps, Telstra 12.5Mbps, and Optus 9.8Mbps.

Here’s how SIM-only plans from Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone compare:

Best networks for low latency

Vodafone performed best for latency in common coverage areas, recording the lowest pings of out of the big three. Vodafone was fastest with a latency of 13.5ms, followed by Optus at 15.1ms, and Telstra at 15.4ms.

Here’s a look at Vodafone’s current range of SIM-only plans:

Vodafone is also running a few deals when it comes to SIM-only plans:

  • $40 with 10GB is now $35 with 50GB
  • $45 with 30GB is now $40 with 60GB
  • $55 with 60GB is now $45 with 100GB
  • $65 with 100GB is now $55 with 500GB

The discount will only last for the first 12 months you’re with Vodafone, but the bonus data will remain for the life of your plan.

These plans can all be paired with a new phone, in which case the discount will also last for the life of your plan. Vodafone’s promos run until November 30.

Alternatively, click here to check out plans from providers powered by the Vodafone network.

Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website.

At Gizmodo, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW - prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.