Telstra vs Optus vs Vodafone coverage

Three to tango.

Most coverage
Telstra
Telstra
  • pro
    99.5% coverage
  • pro
    SIM plans from $58
Next best
Optus
Optus
  • pro
    98.5% coverage
  • pro
    SIM plans from $49
Budget option
Vodaphone
Vodafone
  • pro
    96% coverage
  • pro
    SIM plans from $40
Brodie Fogg
Editorial Lead
Read More
September 04, 2022
4 min read

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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. Telstra's coverage is still the most reliable option for many Australians living outside of heavily populated areas, as coverage in remote Australia can be patchy at best.

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 and their coverage. 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 try again. 

Telstra vs Optus vs Vodafone coverage in populated areas

The percentages below represent each network's 3G and 4G coverage footprint in Australia. 

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

How coverage from Telstra, Optus and Vodafone compare
  • Telstra: 99.5%
  • Telstra Wholesale (MVNO access): 98.8%
  • Optus: 98.5%
  • Vodafone: 96%

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

  • 99.5% 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 now covers over 80% of the 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 prepaid and Upfront SIM-only plans.

And if you're happy with Telstra's still-impressive Wholesale Network coverage, here's a rundown of the most popular plans on other providers who use the Telstra network.

Telstra MVNO coverage
Light Bulb

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. And for a closer look at some alternatives, check out our guide to the best mobile providers on the Telstra network.

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 and 4G coverage too. Boost and Telstra have a strong partnership which gives the MVNO complete access to the Telstra network. You can even get 5G on Boost's top-end prepaid plan.

Here's a quick look at all of Boost Mobile's prepaid plans.

Still struggling to get Telstra signal?
Megaphone

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 99.5% 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. Theoretically speaking, the Optus network reaches 256,900 less people than Telstra. 

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.

If you like what you see, here's a look at Optus' prepaid and postpaid plan options.

Optus MVNOs have the same coverage as Optus. 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 perks like discounted Optus Sport or the ability to bundle in a new phone. Not a dealbreaker but worth considering.

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

Optus vs Vodafone
Pin

If you've decided against Telstra, you might be wondering which is the best choice out of the remaining two networks. Take a look at our in-depth Optus vs Vodafone mobile matchup to see which comes out on top.

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, the coverage of Vodafone's MVNOs is the same as 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.

If you're confident with that coverage, here's a look at Vodafone's prepaid and postpaid mobile plans.

Still not sure? No worries. It's best to trial a 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 from other providers on the Vodafone Mobile network.

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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