Which 3G Network Actually Works Right Here?

Which 3G Network Actually Works Right Here?

Which Australian 3G mobile network is available in this bush location? Based on remoteness, I suspect the answer most people would give is Telstra’s Next G — and they’d be dead wrong.

This picture was taken near Diapur Loop, in far western Victoria on the main train line between Melbourne and Adelaide. I spent about 15 minutes sitting here yesterday, waiting for a freight train to pass in the opposite direction. During that entire period, my Next G modem couldn’t scare up a signal at all, despite repeated attempts. My BlackBerry using Optus managed a 3G signal throughout without problems. (I’d hoped to test Vodafone as well, but the credit on my test device SIM ran out. Gah!)

Next G worked fine on the Overland in other locations, so I don’t think this was a case of the train causing problems. It’s largely a reminder that figures about covering a given percentage of the country never tell the whole story: the only detail that really matters is whether you can get signal when you need it.


  • What’s your point?

    Of course there’s going to be places where Telstra doesn’t have coverage that another carrier does… why does this surprise you?

    Where were you anyway? Bumfuck nowhere by the looks of it…

  • We recently went on holiday to Exmouth in WA. This is a major tourist destination due to the Ningaloo Reef.

    In town I searched for providers on my phone, got Telstra and Optus. No Vodafone which is the carrier both my wife and I use.

    Bit annoying when you see someone online using a NextG modem and I have got no chance of getting any signal.

  • I hark back to the days when Telstra sent out a station wagon with the three providers’ mobile hooked to a laptop each and the results came back on coverage.

    Never saw this for wireless data yet, but it would be interesting, let alone to see if the mythical top end speeds were reached

  • I live in a rural area (not as rural as the image but rural) and Virgin is the only carrier i have tried that i get decent reception with (I have tried Vodafone, telstra, 3). We have a Next G mobile and we have to go up the back of the yard to use it.

  • I grew up on a farm similar to that pictured, in WA. Whenever I go home to the parents, telstra is all I Get – my blackberry gets better reception than all other phones and data cards I’ve tried except the plug-in modem they have (with slightly-modified antenna).

    I do a decent amount of traveling with my girlfriend, who is vodafone only. We drove across australia together, we’ve been up north and down south, we spent a while circumnavigating tasmania – and there are a lot of rural pockets where vodafone wins. If you live in one of these pockets, go vodafone – it’ll be way cheaper overall.
    But overall, telstra covers an insanely large area with next G. I can’t go past it. we have 80 mobiles on next G at work primarily because they need to be able to travel outside the big cities, and next-g is the most reliable given I have no idea where our workers are going.

    So..I agree. even in some rural areas, you’ll be fine with vodafone/optus and telstra’s service will be subpar. But you don’t live there, and an unusually-placed tower somewhere you dont get regular use isn’t something to recommend a company by.

  • I can prove your story correct. My brother lives in the western district not far from Ballarat and in their house the Optus mobile signal is better than the Telstra Next G. In fact I don’t usemy telstra wireless internet now so I took the usb modem up there, loaded it on the computer and guess what no signal, poor signal strength. They are on optus for mobiles and they never have problems with signal. The signal on telstra also drops off furtherin two places along a main road so I strongly dispute their clain of covering over 90% of the country.

  • Reality is that for rural locations, Telstra is your best bet. There are certainly a lot of places where Vodaphone or Optus have won the contract to fill a stretch of highway or something, where Telstra haven’t bothered placing infrastructure – but in the majority of circumstances, Telstra are a better bet for middle of nowhere locations in Australia.

    Telstra are usually comparatively expensive, and their customer service astonishingly sucks even more than vodaphone’s – but their coverage is great. If you want true 100% coverage – there are options like GPS network and Satellite communications channels – but they’re bloody expensive.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!