5G in Australia: Next-gen network coverage explained

Everything you need to know about 5G mobile and internet plans in Australia.

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Brodie Fogg
Editorial Lead
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June 05, 2022
16 min read

Remember the first iPhone? It was a landmark evolution of the mobile phone that could take photos, play music and access the world wide web. It was a huge leap forward but if you took a step back in time and attempted half the tasks we perform on our current smartphones, you'd find it painfully difficult if not impossible.

It wasn't until the iPhone 3G was released that things started to resemble the modern smartphone experience. The iPhone 3G was a powerful phone for its time but the real key to the future was in its 3G connectivity. Then things jumped forward again in 2012 with the iPhone 5, a handset capable of delivering blistering 4G/LTE speeds up to 100Mbps (the theoretical max). 5G is the next step in this evolution, and it's coming to a mobile tower (and smartphone) near you.

Here's everything you need to know about the 5G rollout in Australia. 

Popular 5G mobile plans in Australia

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, here's a glance at the most popular 5G plans available in Australia right now to give you an idea of how much that 5G connectivity will cost you.

Best 5G Phones Australia

Best 5G mobile plans in Australia

Do you feel the need for speed?

5G coverage in Australia in 2022

Check the map below to find out where Telstra, Optus and Vodafone offer 5G coverage in Australia.

Before we explore the finer details of the 5G upgrade, let's see if you have 5G coverage already. To see where is 5G available in Australia, use the 5G coverage map below.

Click the big orange button, select your desired network provider from the dropdown (e.g. Telstra, Optus or Vodafone).

To find out if you have 5G coverage in your area, use the (+) and (-) icons in the top-left corner of the map to navigate to your area. For example, if you want to search for 5G broadband coverage in Sydney, zoom right in and drag the map with your cursor to zero in on your address.

Which providers offer 5G in Australia?

There are currently six providers in Australia offering 5G plans.

While access to 5G was initially restricted to Australia's big three carriers, it has since trickled out to include a number of MVNOs.

At the time of writing, there are ten providers in Australia offering 5G mobile and broadband plans: that figure includes major network providers Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, plus minor league MVNO players like Spintel, Aussie Broadband and Southern Phone. 

  • Telstra: 5G mobile and 5G home broadband
  • Optus: 5G mobile and 5G home broadband
  • TPG: 5G home broadband
  • Vodafone: 5G mobile and 5G home broadband
  • Internode:5G home broadband
  • iiNet: 5G home broadband
  • Spintel: 5G mobile and 5G home broadband
  • Aussie Broadband: 5G mobile
  • Boost Mobile: 5G mobile
  • Southern Phone: 5G mobile

Here's a quick look at the most popular plans from a few 5G mobile providers in Australia. 

Telstra 5G network and plans

The big blue has always been the coverage king in Australia, and things are much the same when it comes to its 5G rollout, which, at the time of writing, is far ahead of the competition.

Of course, that superior 5G coverage does come at a cost. In fact, you'll have to spend at least $65 per month for a 5G-enabled SIM-only plan or $60 per month for a 5G-enabled prepaid plan.

Although its 5G mobile plans aren't the cheapest, Telstra does offer a surprisingly good value 5G home internet option. At $85 per month, it comes with 1TB (1,000GB) of data (which is far more than most people will need), a three-month Binge subscription, and offers blazing-fast speeds between 50 and 600Mbps. Better yet, the first month is completely free, so if you decide it's not for you, you can return the modem and won't have to pay a cent.

Telstra 5G coverage map

Find your area using the interactive map below to find out whether you have sufficient 5G coverage with Telstra.

Optus 5G network and plans

When it comes to Optus' 5G network, the telco is quite tight-lipped about the actual coverage percentage or number of sites. However, judging by the coverage map below, it's safe to say Optus lies somewhere in the middle of Telstra and Vodafone in terms of reaching the Australian population.

As you might expect, Optus' prices aren't as cheap as Vodafone's but not nearly as expensive as Telstra's. Here's a look at its most popular 5G-enabled plans.

Optus was the first of the big three telcos to offer 5G home internet back in 2019, and it remains one of the best NBN alternatives to this day. Plans start from $79 per month (depending on whether you're happy with 100Mbps or prefer full 5G speeds) and come with unlimited data and a Nokia 5G Modem.

Optus 5G coverage map

Over on the Optus website, you will find every location in Australia where Optus has live 5G towers. Use the interactive map below to find out whether your area has Optus 5G.

Vodafone 5G network and plans

Most of Vodafone's 5G coverage is concentrated in major metropolitan and some regional hubs across New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, and the ACT.

Though the Vodafone 5G network is slower to roll out, it does offer significantly better value than the competition, with access available across all its prepaid and postpaid plans. Here's a quick look at the most popular Vodafone plans at the moment.

Vodafone also offers its own suite of low-cost 5G home internet plans but they aren't as widely available as Optus' or Telstra's offering (due to Vodafone's limited 5G coverage).

Vodafone 5G coverage map

There's now enough data to power our Vodafone coverage map but you've got to zoom quite far in to see any results (which is indicative of Vodafone's smaller rollout efforts). Use the plus (+) and minus (-) buttons on the map below to zero in your area.

Spintel 5G plans

One of Australia's best budget providers Spintel is now offering 5G home broadband and 5G mobile plans on the Optus 5G network. For a limited time, Spintel is offering its 80GB 5G mobile plan for $40 per month (for the first six months, then $50 per month thereafter) and its 200GB 5G mobile plan for $55 per month (for the first six months, then $65 per month thereafter). 

Spintel is also one of the only MVNOs that currently offer 5G Home Broadband plans too. Spintel offers two 5G Home Broadband plans, both are unlimited but are sold in two separate speed tiers. $69 per month will get you unlimited 5G with a 100Mbps speed cap and $80 per month will get you unlimited, uncapped 5G home broadband. That unlimited plan is discounted to $80 for the first six months and will cost $90 per month every month after. 

Spintel 5G coverage map

Spintel leases its 5G coverage from Optus, so Spintel's coverage map should be identical to the Optus 5G map above. Here's that coverage map again but you can find out more about Spintel's 5G coverage on its website. 

TPG 5G Home Internet

TPG follow the example set by Optus and Vodafone, with a $10 difference in price between its two 5G Home Internet plans. Regardless of which plan you choose to go with, TPG provide a 5G Gateway modem that has no hardware exit fees if you stay connected for 36 months.

Starting at $69.99 a month, eligible homes can sign up to the TPG 5G Home Internet Plan Premium. This plan comes with unlimited data, but speeds are capped at 100Mbps during off-peak times.

If that's too many terms and considitions, then the TPG 5G Home Internet Plan Max is likely for you. This plan costs $79.99 a month, but includes both unlimited data and access to the fastest available 5G speeds on the Vodafone 5G network, though there aren’t any estimates on what to expect.

TPG 5G coverage map

Expect to find TPG 5G coverage in all the same locations as Vodafone's 5G offering. Check out the coverage map below for a sense of whether or not you should be covered.

iiNet 5G Home Internet

The two-tiered trend among 5G home internet providers continues when it comes to iiNet, with a familiar $10 separating its two plans. The iiNet 5G Home Internet Plan Premium costs $74.99 a month and pairs up unlimited data with download speeds of up to 100Mbps.

In line with other two-tiered 5G home internet providers, the more expensive of iiNet's two plans comes without a speed limit.

The iiNet 5G Home Internet Plan Max costs in at $84.99 per month, boasting unlimited data and unrestricted 5G speeds on the Vodafone 5G network.

As with TPG, both iiNet 5G Home Internet plans include a 5G Gateway modem that has a $0 cost if you stay connected for 36 months.

iiNet 5G coverage map

iiNet's 5G offering is powered by the Vodafone 5G network, so expect to find coverage in all the same locations as you would with the latter's own footprint. Check out the coverage map below for a sense of whether or not you should be covered.

Internode 5G Home Internet

As with iiNet and TPG, Internode follows the two-plan system with a $10 difference between its two 5G home internet plans.

The Internode 5G Home Internet Plan Premium costs $74.99 a month for unlimited data and 100Mbps max speeds achievable during off-peak times.

More or less identical to iiNet's equivalent, the Internode 5G Home Internet Plan Max costs $84.99 a month for unlimited data and unrestricted speeds on the Vodafone 5G network. Both of these 5G Home Internet plans come with a compatible modem that won't cost anything if you stay connected for 36 months.

Internode 5G coverage map

Internode's 5G home internet plans are powered by the Vodafone network, so expect to find coverage anywhere you can do the same for the latter. If you're unsure whether your home or office is covered, check out the coverage map below.

Aussie Broadband 5G plans

Aussie Broadband may have built their reputation on the NBN side of things, but the homegrown provider are also the cutting edge when it comes to 5G mobile plans. They're one of the only options available for 5G outside of the big three, with two 5G-enabled plans on offer.

The first of these, the Tech First plan, is priced at $60 per month and includes 80GB of data, unlimited standard calls and texts plus $200 of international call credit. It's a SIM-only plan, so you can't pair it up with a new handset. However, on the other hand, it's contract-free, which means you can leave whenever you want.

Aussie Broadband's other 5G plan is also SIM-only and contract-free.

The Aussie Broadband Future Now plan is priced at $70 per month, but ups the ante on its cheaper cousin in all the ways that matter. Rather than 80GB of data per month, you get 200GB to play with. Your monthly international call credit allowance also gets doubled to $500.

Aussie Broadband 5G coverage map

Aussie Broadband's 5G SIM-only plans are powered by Optus' 5G network. This means the coverage map, seen below, is going to be more or less identical to that of Optus themselves, plus other Optus affiliated 5G mobile providers like Spintel.

Southern Phone 5G plans

Southern Phone is another Optus MVNO with 5G SIM-only plans on offer.

There are four options to choose from here, starting with the $50 basic plan. This includes 20GB of data, $50 of international call credit and unlimited standard calls and text.

The $60 standard plan bumps this up in a big way, raising the data cap to 80GB and quadrupling the amount of international call credit to $200.

Next cab of the rank, the Southern Phone's $70 large plan doubles this and then some. This plan includes 200GB of monthly data, unlimited standard calls and text plus $500 of international call credit.

Lastly, there's the $90 per month X-Large plan. This one includes 240GB of mobile data, plus $500 of international call credit and unlimited standards calls and text.

All four of Southern Phone's 5G plans are BYOD and contract free, which means you'll need to source your own 5G handset but are free to change providers with minimal hassle if things don't work out.

Southern Phone 5G coverage map

As with Aussie Broadband and Spintel, Southern Phone's 5G SIM-only plans are powered by Optus' 5G network. If you're uncertain whether or not you'll be covered, check out the map below.

Boost Mobile 5G plans

Boost Mobile is the first Telstra MVNO to receive 5G access. However, for the time being, it comes with a pretty big catch. The next-generation connectivity and super-fast speeds of 5G can only be found with the provider's priciest $70 prepaid plan.

Given that Telstra themselves offer access to the same 5G network for less, this might not be the best value option for those seeking faster speeds. Still, it's an option to consider if you're in the market for a 5G mobile plan and don't fancy the idea of going with Telstra for whatever reason.

Boost Mobile 5G coverage map

Boost Mobile's single 5G prepaid plan is powered by the Telstra network. This covers 75% of Australia’s population, according to Telstra. It also comes with access to Telstra's 3G and 4G networks, which are said to cover 99.4% of Australians.

Most consumers are going to be covered here, but if you're worried you can check out the mapping tool below to get a sense of whether or not you'll have coverage.

What is 5G?

5G (Fifth Generation) is the latest in wireless communication technology for mobile data networks.

In Australia, we're still a while off from having ubiquitous 5G coverage that's comparable to 4G. However, it's already clear that the speed and latency benefits of 5G are unquestionable.

As each providers' 5G network grows, we'll likely see more and more applications for 5G across Australia. Futuristic technologies, such as smart driving cars and networked agriculture solutions, are being used to sell the big picture of 5G. For most of us though, the immediate benefit will mean faster download speeds and better ping on our mobile devices.

For the everyday user, 5G will slowly, but eventually, become the new norm when it comes to mobile coverage. You won’t have to give it much thought once the rollout is complete (outside of upgrading to a 5G handset). If anything, the biggest question you’re likely to face when the 5G rollout is complete is whether you are better off on NBN internet plan or a 5G Home Internet one.

How fast is 5G in Australia?

With potential speeds of 20Gbps, 5G is eyed as not only a nifty upgrade for smartphone users but also a fixed-line internet replacement for people who can’t access reliable NBN.  People like farmers using IoT (Internet of Things) devices to automate parts of their workload.

20Gbps is the theoretical maximum of mmWave 5G, a technology not yet available in Australia (more on that in a moment).  Still, Telstra expects its customers to average between 50 and 300Mbps on 5G. On the other hand, Optus advertises typical evening speeds of 214Mbps on its 5G network and backs it up with a 50Mbps speed guarantee. It’s a far cry from the 20Gbps promised land, but still, a decent estimate compared to Australia’s current mobile network speeds.

The global network monitoring organisation Opensignal recently published a 2021 speed test report that found the Australian 5G users it sampled experienced download speeds of 210Mbps on average (between the 1st of January and 31st of March). Australian internet users on all technologies experienced an average of 41.3Mbps across the same period. That's roughly five times as fast for the 5G users Opensignal sampled. Of the three providers, Telstra came out on top in Opensignal's report with average 5G speeds of 253.8Mbps across that period.

5G vs 4G: How much faster is 5G?

The promise of faster mobile download speeds has been the biggest selling point for 5G in Australia but there are more benefits to consider when comparing 5G and 4G network technologies. Here are the major differences between 4G and 5G network technologies:

  1. 5G is roughly five times faster than 4G
  2. 5G has a lower (better) latency than 4G
  3. 5G struggles with indoor coverage

Even this early on in the 5G rollout, the next-generation mobile network has provided much faster speeds on average than the existing 4G network. To illustrate how much faster that is exactly, we used flight durations to demonstrate how much time you could theoretically save on 5G.

Reviews.org 5G speeds versus 4G speeds

For a deeper comparison of the two network technologies and a further breakdown of real-world speed improvements, head over to our 5G vs 4G guide.

5G frequency in Australia

If you didn't know about millimetre wave (mmWave) 5G before the iPhone 13 buzz, you probably do now. See, there are three different types of 5G technology: low-band 5G, mid-band sub 6 5G, and mmWave 5G.

Only iPhone 13 models sold in the U.S. are compatible with mmWave 5G, which caused a bit of fuss after the iPhone 13 reveal. That's because mmWave 5G has the highest theoretical download speed out of the three at 20Gbps. The rest of the world felt like they drew the short straw. The thing is, we don't have mmWave 5G in Australia yet. Every 5G network in Australia currently uses sub 6 5G, though Vodafone is retooling some of its 4G infrastructure to offer low-band 5G.

Telcos began bidding on access to mmWave 5G at the beginning of 2021 and in April of the same year, all three networks purchased their share of the 26Ghz (mmWave) spectrum.  Sub 6 5G is still what most Australians currently have access to but faster mmWave 5G might not be as far off as we initially anticipated, at least for some areas.

Sub 6 5G is a good middle-ground for now. mmWave frequencies are much faster but don't travel as far and have trouble penetrating walls. Low-band frequencies offer slower download speeds but are much more efficient for indoor coverage. The sub 6 3.5GHz spectrum used by our telcos is still capable of 1Gbps download speeds and is better at penetrating walls than mmWave, so it's a more reliable choice for 5G home broadband solutions.

Combined, we should see a 5G solution that's fit for faster speeds indoors and outdoors as the network evolves.

5G latency and bandwidth

5G also offers lower (better) latency than 5G.

Latency is the Round Trip Time (RTT) of your internet connection, the time it takes to send data from your device to the network and back again. The call and response time of every action you perform on the internet. Low latency is most commonly seen as a benefit for online gaming, where a millisecond’s delay can make all the difference. But 5G’s super-low 1ms latency will have benefits for future technologies, like self-driving cars, where a millisecond variance could pose a real risk.

Lastly, there's the number of connected devices a 5G connection can handle. 5G will be able to manage more devices simultaneously than 4G is currently able to. That might not mean much if you’re on a super-fast NBN plan at the moment, with two to three people connected at once. But larger households, and those who can't get NBN, should look forward to better bandwidth on 5G.

When is 5G coming to Australia?

Global adoption of 5G wireless technology kicked off in 2019. In Australia, Telstra, Vodafone and Optus have all made significant progress on rolling out their 5G networks across the country.

In June 2021, Telstra reported its 5G network had reached 75% of Australian homes. That's with coverage live in over 2,7000 suburbs and over 200 cities and towns. Telstra also claimed there are over 1.5 million 5G devices operating on its network.

Vodafone has picked up the pace too with coverage in 1,000 suburbs across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra, Perth, Gold Coast, Central Coast, Wollongong and the Sunshine Coast, reaching one million customers.

Optus is a little more tight-lipped about the facts and figures surrounding its 5G network, but you can get a good idea of coverage by checking out our Optus 5G coverage map below.

What is 5G Home Internet?

5G Home Internet (or 5G WiFi) is a product currently available through Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and a number of MVNO providers like SpinTel. As mentioned above, it's intended to replace your fixed-line broadband connection with a 5G modem that connects to the next-generation mobile network.

It's still early days in the 5G rollout, and even those that are eligible might not get a strong enough signal to replace their reliable fixed-line plan completely. But Optus advertises a 50Mbps speed guarantee and won't service your address unless there's a 95% chance you will receive sufficient speeds. If you don't, you're free to cancel at any time so there's not a lot of risks involved in being an early adopter.

Telstra, on the other hand, advertises typical evening speeds between 50 and 600Mbps, and with the first month free, you can cancel and return the modem without paying a thing. As for Vodafone and SpinTel, both offer a trial period, during which you can cancel your service if you're unhappy with the coverage.

Here's how each provider's 5G plans compare.

5G phones Australia

While 5G Home Internet is still in its infancy, 5G smartphones have been available for some time now.

Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, and Woolworths Mobile all offer a selection of 5G smartphones; from Apple's 5G iPhone, to Google's own sixth-generation handset, we're spoiled for choice.

If you are thinking of upgrading to a 5G smartphone, it comes with the proviso that you might not fully reap the benefits of 5G for some time still. If you're the type that hangs on to their handset for three to four years, there's nothing wrong with future-proofing your smartphone now. Here's a small selection of the most popular 5G smartphones available in Australia.

5G modems

In Australia, there are three primary 5G modem options available.

More will become available as 5G continues to rollout, but in the meantime, you've got Telstra's 5G Home Modem, the Sagemcom F@st 5866T modem used by Vodafone, and the Nokia 5G Home modem used by both Optus and Vodafone, plus a few other providers.

Here's a little more information on each 5G modem.

Nokia 5G Home

The Nokia 5G Home used by Optus, Vodafone and SpinTel has a sharp, cylindrical design. It has an easy-to-read signal indicator that lets you know when your connection is struggling and supports WiFi 6.

The Nokia 5G Modem comes included with the Optus' 5G home internet plans, which start from $79 per month, as well as Vodafone's, which start at $70 per month, and Spintel's, from $69 per month.

Telstra 5G Modem

Photograph of the Telstra 5G home modem

The Telstra 5G Home Modem offers support for WiFi 6, one configurable Ethernet WAN/LAN port and four Ethernet ports for wired gigabit speeds, and one USB 3.0 port. It comes with an inbuilt, pre-activated SIM, so all you need to do is plug it in and connect.

Sagemcom F@st 5866T modem

Vodafone 5G modem

Signing up for either of Vodafone's 5G home internet plans will net you one of two different modem-routers. Vodafone customers don't really have a choice or say in which modem they receive. It's a what-you-get-is-what-you-get sort of deal.

Some customers will end up with the same Nokia FastMile 5G Gateway modem-router available from Optus, SpinTel and others. Meanwhile, some customers will end up with the Sagemcom F@st 5866T modem. Thankfully, while the looks vary, the capabilities found in the two devices do not. 

As with its Nokia-made counterpart, the Sagemcom F@st 5866T features a color-based lighting system that communicates signal strength, as well as a trio of Ethernet jacks and a single USB port on the back.

5G vs NBN

One of the biggest questions surrounding the 5G rollout is whether it's killing the bees, but the bigger (and more sensible) question is whether 5G has got the grit to replace the NBN (National Broadband Network).

If we only consider speed, the answer would be yes. 5G is capable of speeds much faster than the NBN's highest speed tier and even its baseline 50Mbps is faster than half of the NBN plans on the market.

With speeds like that, why wouldn't it replace the NBN? Well, there are still a lot of unknowns at this stage. How stable will 5G home WiFi be? Will coverage be comprehensive enough for you to rely on 5G home internet as a fixed-line replacement? Also, how much will telcos charge for the privilege?

Optus was the first to show its hand, with a reasonable $79 per month 5G home internet plan, with Telstra recently throwing its hat in the ring, and Vodafone joining with its own low-cost offering.

Lastly, we have no idea what the MVNO market will look like. Boost Mobile founder Peter Adderton didn't seem too thrilled by the immediate impact of 5G when he discussed the next-gen network in February 2020, claiming that Boost would only offer 5G "when it makes a difference to [their] customers."

Optus was the first network to include MVNOs in its 5G rollout strategy after signing a new 5-year deal with Vocus (iPrimus and Dodo) that includes access to the Optus 5G network. Access will be limited, however, with Optus planning to offer "wholesale access" to MVNOs, limiting the coverage MVNOs can access, so Optus' 5G network remains the premium option. This is similar to how Telstra currently operates with its mobile MVNOS on the 4G network.

At the time of updating this guide, Spintel, Aussie Broadband, Boost Mobile and Southern Phone all offered 5G mobile plans. You can check out the widget below for how these plans compare.

Brodie Fogg
Written by
Brodie Fogg
Brodie Fogg is the Australian editorial lead at Reviews.org. He has covered consumer tech, telecommunications, video games, streaming and entertainment for over five years at websites like WhistleOut and Finder and can be found sharing streaming recommendations at 7NEWS every month.

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