Australian 5G networks are popping up already, but most people don't have access just yet, and probably won't until sometime this year. This isn't unique to Australia; several countries have 5G but coverage is still a fraction of that provided by 4G.
If you're not familiar, 5G is the next upgrade to mobile networks following 4G. It's many times faster than 4G and opens up lots of new opportunities like smart cities and farms, and untethered AR and VR experiences.
Whether you're waiting for 5G in Australia or elsewhere, you can stay current with how this new tech is unfolding around the world with daily updates: 5G: The Latest News & Updates.
5G in AustraliaPhoto by Joey Csunyo on Unsplash
There are three big names to watch when it comes to 5G availability in Australia: Optus, Telstra, and Vodafone. The service that's available to you depends on where you live, whether the carrier has 5G phones yet, and if you want mobile service or just 5G internet at home.5G Challenges: Why It Isn't Rolling Out Faster
One 5G network provider in Australia is Optus, the country's second-biggest telecom company. In November 2019, they began offering both a mobile 5G solution and fixed wireless access (FWA) 5G.
From the launch date, there were over 290 5G sites in Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, NSW, Victoria, and Queensland.
You can order 5G Home Broadband for $75 /month with a 50 Mbps Satisfaction Guarantee. One of the plans maxes out at 100 Mbps, but the other one doesn't, and is said to offer average download speeds of over 230 Mbps.
See their 5G phones page for an updated listing of their compatible smartphones. Their coverage map details where you can get 5G (mobile and home service). A recent benchmarking report shows average download speeds over 350 Mbps.
Before 2019, Telstra had already made 5G available to over 200 locations, including not only every single major city in Australia but also some less popular locations. Of the 1,400+ suburbs now covered are some of these locations: Queensland, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, Melbourne, Tasmania, Sydney, Brisbane, Hobart, Launceston, and Toowoomba.
All of those locations have mobile 5G base stations, meaning that 5G devices are accessible anywhere there's coverage. See all of their 5G smartphone options for details.
There are multiple plans you can choose from that work with one of those devices, from a 40 GB plan to one that supports 180 GB.
The first Telstra 5G customer was FKG Group in Toowoomba through the use of the HTC 5G Hub.
The company launched a 5G home service in September 2020.
In 2019, Vodafone partnered with Nokia to provide Vodafone Hutchison Australia customers with 5G services starting in 2020. The first areas 5G will roll out to include Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra, Perth, the Gold Coast, Newcastle, Central Coast, and Geelong.
Compatible phones include the Pixel 5, Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G, and LG Velvet 5G. See their phones for a complete listing.
Australian MVNO Networks
If you get service from a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), you might have to wait even longer for 5G because those operators buy their access from other telecom companies, a process which might not meet up with the parent company's 5G timetable.
For example, Woolworths Mobile, Boost Mobile, Belong, and ALDImobile are on the Telstra network; Hello Mobile, KISA Phone, and Kogan Mobile with Vodafone; and amaysim, iPrimus, and Exetel use the Optus mobile network.6G: What It Is & When to Expect It