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Telstra's 5G network now reaches 50% of the Australian population

TechRadar logo TechRadar 14/01/2021 Jasmine Gearie
a woman is walking down the street: Young woman using smartphone in Sydney © Provided by TechRadar Young woman using smartphone in Sydney

The major Aussie telcos have gone back and forth over who has the better 5G network, but Telstra can now definitively lay claim to having the widest coverage.

In a statement made today, Telstra’s announced that its 5G network now reaches more than 50% of Australians, and that number is continuing to grow.

Telstra has aggressive plans in the works for 2021, and as coverage continues to roll out, it aims to reach 75% of Aussie’s by the end of June this year. So as 5G handsets become more common, Telstra should be well-placed to handle the increased traffic.

Telstra says that it already has more than 750,000 5G devices being used on its network – such as the iPhone 12 and the Samsung Galaxy S20 – though that doesn’t necessarily mean each of those handsets is connected to a 5G plan.

In fact, Telstra is the only provider among the big three that requires you to pay a premium to access its 5G network. While 5G coverage is included on all Optus and Vodafone mobile plans, it’s only available on Medium and above plans with Telstra, which start at AU$65 a month.

The state of 5G in Australia

Telstra predicts that when 5G is fully operational across the country, download speeds could be 10 times faster than what is currently available. That could potentially see 5G users downloading a movie in HD in around a second, according to Telstra. 

The company switched on its first 5G towers in Australia in 2018. With the exception of Darwin, Telstra’s 5G coverage is today available in all major cities and regional centres in each state.

The Optus 5G network is arguably not far behind Telstra, however; it too continues to be rolled out at speed, and aside from Tasmania and the Northern Territory, it also reaches most major cities.

By comparison, Vodafone has relatively limited 5G coverage at this stage, but the telco says it’s planning to cover 85% of the population in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra by the end of 2021.

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