The 5G rollout continue
A couple of years ago, 5G and 5G plans was just a talking point in Australia. We heard about its unreal speeds, high bandwidth, low latency, and how these improvements could launchpad a bunch of other technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), and many more.
Fast forward to today, and 5G is no longer a mystery to Australians. Chances are that you haven’t only heard about the fifth-generation mobile network technology, you’ve probably used it, or at least have access to it in the palm of your hands.
Today, you have several options when looking for a 5G-capable smartphone. You also have options when looking for a 5G phone plan. And coverage has continued to expand across the major networks.
You can choose a plan from Telstra, Optus, or TPG Telecom (Vodafone). And now that Optus has opened up its 5G network to MVNOs, you’ll have a lot more 5G plans to choose from in the coming months.
But although your options are plenty, they are not all created equal. As available as 5G is in Australia today, it still has a long way to go as far as speeds and coverage are concerned. In this article, we’ll look at where 5G is now, and the future of 5G in Australia.
5G phones and plans in Australia
You’ll need a 5G-capable device to take advantage of Australia’s 5G networks. Thankfully, there are a lot of smartphones to choose from, and even more to come.
Here’s a look at some of the 5G phones that are available get right now:
- Apple iPhone 12 series
- Samsung Galaxy S21 series
- Samsung Galaxy S20 5G series
- Samsung Galaxy Note 20 5G series
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G
- Google Pixel 5
- Oppo Find X2 Pro
- Moto G 5G Plus
Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone all sell 5G plans as well as phones that you can purchase outright or through monthly payments. Last year, Optus began wholesaling its 5G network to Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), with SpinTel being the first to resell their 5G network.
Here’s a quick look at the current mobile 5G SIM Only plans in Australia:
|Telstra 5G plans||Optus 5G plans||Vodafone 5G plans||Spintel 5G plans|
|SIM Only plans||3 plans ranging from $65 to $115||6 plans ranging from $39 to $119||6 plans ranging from $40 to $120||3 plans ranging from $35 to $55|
|National Call and SMS||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|5G Data||80GB to 180GB||10GB to 500GB||50GB to 500GB||10GB to 80GB|
These telcos also offer 5G home broadband plans, so you can have a viable wireless alternative to fixed wired plans.
As for the future, keep an eye out for Aussie Mobile and Macquarie Telecom, both of which recently left Telstra to resell Optus’ 5G network. In the coming months, both of those MVNOs will offer 5G plans as well, along with others that will likely follow.
5G speeds – mmWave is coming to Australia
Currently, Australia’s 5G networks aren’t where they could be. Before the technology launched 2 years ago, we heard about how 5G would provide download speeds that are up to 100 times faster than 4G networks. However, current 5G networks are a long way from that, and there are cases where some 4G networks have recorded faster speeds than 5G.
The general reason for this is that none of the major networks have completed their 5G rollout. A more specific reason is that current 5G networks in Australia use mid-band sub-6GHz frequency range, which limits 5G performance.
But limited 5G performance depends a lot on your definition. After all, Optus just recorded 2.5Gbps download speed on its mobile 5G network last year, which is blazing fast, great performance by most people’s standard.
And recent test results by Systemics PAB showed Optus 5G averaged download speeds of 326Mbps and peaked at over 1.4Gbps, while Telstra averaged 295Mbps and peaked at 904Mbps. These are very fast speeds as well.
But the future of 5G in Australia promises to be even faster, as the government gets set to allocate mmWave 5G spectrum to the major networks in the first half of this year. mmWave refers to spectrum that falls in the 24GHz to 100GHz band range – 26GHz frequency band in Australia, for now.
Caption: All 5G is not the same – different bands on the spectrum mean different speeds and performance.
The upcoming spectrum upgrade will result in huge improvement – think of unheard-of speeds and very low latency, essentially what was promised a few years ago before 5G launched in Australia.
To put things into perspective, max download speed on mmWave 5G is pegged at 20Gbps, theoretically. That’s 8 times faster than Optus’ current fastest speeds of 2.5Gbps.
5G coverage in Australia
Having such high speed 5G networks doesn’t mean much if you can’t get any coverage. Many Australian’s still can’t experience 5G because of where they live, so they make use of 3G/4G SIM Only plans.
However, the 5G rollout has progressed quite well, with Telstra and Optus leading the way as far as coverage is concerned. Vodafone only came into the picture last year when they launched their first commercial 5G site in Parramatta, but the telco has made some impressive progress since then.
Here’s a quick look at 5G coverage in Australia:
|Where can I get 5G in Australia?||ACT, NSW, Queensland, SA, Victoria, WA, Tasmania||ACT, NSW, Queensland, SA, Victoria, WA||ACT, NSW, Queensland, SA, Victoria, WA|
Remember, 5G coverage is limited across the country, so even if you’re in a state or territory where 5G is available, you still might not have 5G access in your particular suburb. The easiest way to find out if a telco has 5G in your area is by logging on to their website to check if your area is in their 5G coverage map.
Right now, Telstra leads the way with the most 5G availability in Australia. They cover 50 percent of the population, and plan on covering 75 percent by the end of June.
Optus has the second widest coverage, but Vodafone has plans to expand very quickly. For instance, Vodafone 5G is already available in 350 suburbs, just a year after it turned on its first site. And by the end of this year, Vodafone plans on having 5G coverage in 85% of the population in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra.
Barely 2 years after launch, Australia’s 5G networks have rolled out impressively. While there’s a lot of room for growth, we’ve seen a lot of progress in such a short time span, especially considering the impediment of the coronavirus pandemic.
So far, if you’re interested in 5G, you can choose from a number of 5G smartphones that fit your budget. And with all 3 major telcos offering 5G plans, you don’t have to pay outright for your device – just choose a monthly installment plan and pay off your 5G phone in 1 to 3 years.
And with mmWave bringing lightning-fast download speeds soon, the future of 5G in Australia looks as bright as ever. But we’re still at the early stages, so 5G coverage is only available in select areas. You’ll have the best luck in urban, major cities like Sydney, Melbourne, and so on, but with time, expect 5G to be just as available as current LTE networks.