4G Airport Shootout: Optus Versus Telstra

4G Airport Shootout: Optus Versus Telstra

Airports are a prime location for using mobile broadband services. In a three-way battle between Optus, Telstra and the free Wi-Fi in the lounge, which comes out on top?

On my way up to the Gold Coast for TechEd Australia 2012 earlier this week, I ran speed tests comparing Optus’ recently-released 4G services, Telstra’s longer-established options and the free Qantas lounge Wi-Fi (also provided by Optus). I used the respective 4G hotspot models to access the Optus and Telstra services, which minimises the likelihood of driver or software problems. Results are averaged over three tests.

Provider Ping Download Upload
Optus 26ms 30.18Mbps 18.53Mbps
Telstra 82ms 7.85Mbps 0.28Mbps
Lounge 9ms 5.39Mbps 5.65Mbps

That looks like a thumping victory for Optus, but there’s a very important caveat here. While Telstra’s 4G network does cover the airport area, in the lounge location where I was my hotspot would only connect to DC-HSPA services. The results were still very usable, but that discrepancy highlights yet again a point we always make about mobile broadband: throughput is not guaranteed. Even with a 4G device, you won’t always get 4G service.

Though Optus is by far the fastest, all three options performed well. Under the circumstances using the free lounge Wi-Fi would often be the sensible choice (why use paid-for data if you don’t have to?) That said, having 4G available once you arrive is still very welcome!


  • Can you re-do this in an airport where you do get a stable 4G service with Telstra, like Brisbane or Sydney?
    That isn’t a surprising result for DC-HSPA. Though it looks like Wi-Fi hot spots really need to lift their game to catch up with 4G.

  • And when you got to the Gold Coast did you get any Optus 4G?

    So for now it’s not a given you’ll hav 4G on arrival unfortunately 🙁

    BTW I am about to go Optus 4G – but if you check the coverage it’s minimal so far.

  • just wondering, have you had any feedback from optus about when their 4g network will be made available to other providers for mobile broadband. I wanna get a mobile broadband plan through virgin but can’t seem to find any way of doing so.

  • Gold coast during Tech Ed is a pretty extreme point to test any network. I’m wouldn’t be surprised if Telstra was oversaturated by nerds that actually use a significant amount of B/W. Every IT nerd that I know uses Telstra to the point where trying to find one with opinions on Optus 4G in Melbourne CBD hasn’t yet been fruitful.

  • FFS these articles are so pointless. Of course Optus was faster in your silly random tests – becuase they only launched it LAST WEEK. Comparing airport lounge wifi speeds is also …. oh why bother explaining this to you Angus – after many , many years of technical and computer writing you surely should know better by now why articles like this are pure crap.

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