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!

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.

At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.


10 responses to “4G Airport Shootout: Optus Versus Telstra”

Leave a Reply