Telstra vs Optus vs Vodafone coverage

Three to tango.

Telstra’s market-leading mobile coverage is the very reason many Australians choose to pay a premium for the provider’s plans. For years, Telstra’s title has gone unchallenged, and rightly so. It’s still the most reliable option for many Australians living outside of heavily populated areas.

But over the last decade, the gap between Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone’s coverage has narrowed significantly. Now, more than ever, Australians that once had Buckley’s chance of receiving a signal with smaller, more affordable networks might find Optus and Vodafone a reliable alternative.

Then there are the MVNOs. If you find that you do need access to the Telstra network, you could easily find yourself a viable budget alternative with one of the many providers that use Telstra’s wholesale network, such as ALDI Mobile, Woolworths Mobile or Boost, which covers around 98.8% of the population.

There are a few steps you can take before committing to a new network if you’re struggling to get coverage or merely looking to switch to a more affordable provider.

  1. Search for your address on Telstra, Optus and Vodafone’s coverage maps below
  2. If the maps indicate sufficient coverage in your area, find the best deal by comparing deals from each provider and their respective MVNOs
  3. Sign up for a month-to-month SIM plan or a prepaid plan to test coverage
  4. Not getting the speeds you hoped for? No worries, pick another provider or network and request and try again. 

Telstra vs Optus vs Vodafone coverage in populated areas

The percentages below represent each network’s 4G coverage footprint in Australia. These figures may be a little higher when factoring in 3G, but let’s keep it simple.

It’s important to note that percentages aren’t representative of landmass, rather Australia’s populated areas.

Here's how coverage from Telstra, Optus and Vodafone compare
NetworkTelstraTelstra Wholesale (MVNO access)OptusVodafone

So how much will you pay to access the coverage provided by each telco? Here’s a quick round-up of the big three telcos’ most popular SIM plans, giving you an idea of how much they cost and the call and data inclusions they come with.

Telstra is still the premium pick, but Optus and Vodafone’s plans offer almost the same value (without considering each provider’s perks and features).

Read on for more specifics on each provider’s network.

Telstra Mobile coverage map

  • 99.4% of populated Australia
  • Best choice for regional Australia

If you’re not completely satisfied with Optus or Vodafone 4G coverage, it might be time to consider switching to the big blue (or a Telstra MVNO). Before you do, it’s worth checking the map below to find out whether Telstra offers sufficient coverage in your area. Our map also includes Telstra 5G coverage, which at the time of writing, covers about 75% of the Australian population.

If your area is swimming in a sea of purple, you should have no issue accessing Telstra’s 4G network. Here’s a quick look at the telco’s most popular SIM plans.

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Telstra MVNO coverage

The map above isn’t entirely reflective of the coverage offered by MVNOs that use the Telstra wholesale network. For a more detailed map on Telstra’s wholesale 4G network, head over to Telstra’s website.

The MVNO exception: Boost Mobile coverage

Most MVNOs have limited access to the Telstra network. However, Boost Mobile is the one provider that Telstra offers unbridled 3G/4G coverage too. Boost and Telstra have a strong partnership that allows Telstra to sell affordable Boost prepaid phones and plans in its brick and mortar stores while giving the MVNO complete access to the Telstra network.

Here’s a quick look at some Boost Mobile’s most popular prepaid plans.

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Still struggling to get Telstra signal?

Telstra’s coverage map offers an accurate snapshot of coverage in your area, but there are a few other factors that could impact your signal. Many are simply out of your control, like geographic interference, but there could be issues with your hardware too.

If the handset you’re using is a little dated, you might not be able to take advantage of the latest wireless technology. That’s why Telstra operates its Blue Tick program, a certification process that highlights handsets that will work best in a rural setting. Take a look at some of the best Blue Tick Phones available.

Optus Mobile coverage map

  • 98.5% of the Australian population
  • Great for metropolitan areas and populated regional towns
  • Might not service the back of Bourke

Next up, we’ve got Australia’s second-largest mobile provider, Optus. Optus claims it covers 98.5% of populated Australia. Compared with Telstra’s 99.4% coverage, that might not seem like much of a difference. But if we apply those percentages to Australia’s total population, the gap starts to look more pronounced. If Telstra reaches 25,244,885 Australians, and Optus reaches 25,117,385, that’s still 127,500 fewer Australians. Those numbers aren’t accurate, of course, just an exercise in explaining the difference 0.9% can make.

And there’s no need for guesswork when you can search your area in the Optus coverage map above. Take a look and see if your hometown has significant 4G coverage (or even 5G coverage, if you’re lucky) with Optus.

One benefit of Optus is that all of its MVNOs have access to the entire network. So there’s no reason against comparing plans to save a bit of money. The one thing you don’t get access to with Optus MVNOs is the sweet perks (cheap movie tickets, Optus Sport, etc.). Not a dealbreaker but worth considering.

Here are the most popular plans on the Optus network with 10GB of data or more.

Vodafone Mobile coverage map

  • 96% of populated Australia
  • Often a cheaper choice for metro areas

Lastly, there’s Vodafone. It’s no secret that Vodafone’s network footprint pales in comparison to Telstra and Optus. But truth be told, the overwhelming majority of Australians can still get a reliable signal on Vodafone these days. That includes Vodafone’s various MVNOs (TPG, Kogan Mobile, etc.). Like Optus, Vodafone’s MVNOs have complete access to its 4G network.

If you’re worried about whether Vodafone can service your area, here’s what you do. Take a look at your stomping ground in the coverage map below. If your address (and the places you regularly visit) are covered in purple, you should be good to go. There are still other factors that might impact your signal, but the map above is a reliable indication of Vodafone’s coverage in Australia. You can also check if your area is one of the few with Vodafone 5G coverage by checking the 5G box.

Still not sure? No worries. It’s best to trial a Vodafone or Vodafone MVNO prepaid or month-to-month SIM plan for a little while anyway. If you’re not happy with the coverage, you can cancel (or, in the case of prepaid, stop paying for recharges).

Here’s a healthy mix of prepaid and SIM-only deals on the Vodafone Mobile network.

Now that you know, here are your next steps.

Take a look at this month's best mobile plans.


Or save some money with these prepaid picks