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The Telstra network is one of the world's largest, and covers over twice the geographical area of any other Australian network. Operating on a much lower frequency (850MHz) means that radio frequencies transmitted on the Next-G network travel much further than other networks - the same principle that allows you to receive AM radio almost anywhere, unlike FM radio which fades out as you travel out of town. Optus is expanding it's 900MHz network frequency to take advantage of this principle, although with significantly less cell towers, Telstra is still by far the better choice when it comes to area covered, providing coverage to over 99.3% of the Australian population.
In terms of speed, while both carriers have comparable 4G networks (Telstra still has the edge with considerably more base stations), 3G speeds will vary considerably between the two networks. A typical Telstra base station will use three transmission antennas with three 5MHz carriers, compare this to an Optus base station which only use one transmission antenna with a single 5MHz carrier - meaning Telstra can provide up to 9x the capacity in rural areas. As your download speed depends on how many others are downloading at the same time, you can see how this is very important. Telstra Mobile Broadband, Telstra Mobile Internet Coverage Map
This map will display expected performance for wireless broadband in different areas. There are two versions of this map, for the most useful information please switch to 'Detailed Map'. You will now be able to toggle between 3G and 4G map versions which have different colour legends.
- Blue: Telstra Next-G DC-HSPA+, speeds up to 43.2Mbps down, 14.4Mbps up
- Light Blue: Telstra Next-G HSPA+, speeds up to 21.6Mbps down, 7.2Mbps up, with optical fibre backhaul
- Orange: Telstra Next-G HSPA, supports speeds up to 14.4Mbps down, but often capped at 3.6 - 7.2Mbps due to limited backhaul capacity.
4GX coverage refers to the availability of the new 700MHz 4G, which can provide faster speeds in areas with 1800MHz and/or 2600MHz 4G coverage via carrier aggregation (with a compatible Cat-6 device).
- Green: Telstra 4GX LTE coverage, speeds up to 200Mbps down, 50Mbps up
- Blue: Telstra 4G LTE coverage, speeds up to 100Mbps down, 50Mbps up