More Melbourne 4G: No Telling Who’ll Win

My Melbourne 4G testing continues to demonstrate that absolute statements about network superiority don’t carry much weight. In one suburban test yesterday, Optus 4G got beaten by Telstra 3G; in one CBD test today, Optus 4G topped Telstra 4G.

Picture by Scott Barbour/Getty Images

These are the results (again averaged over three tests) I got yesterday at Forest Hill Shopping Centre at lunchtime. Forest Hill gets 4G signal from Optus, while the “best” Telstra can manage here is DC-HSPA+. But if I paid attention to readers who argue the only meaningful comparison is between 4G services, I would not have discovered that in this particular location the older Telstra network is much faster than the newer Optus one for downloads, albeit rather slower for uploads:

Provider Ping (ms) Download (Mbps) Upload (Mbps)
Optus (4G) 67 9.01 7.18
Telstra (DC) 83 14.66 0.87

Testing at ACMI in the middle of Melbourne at lunchtime today, with 4G from both providers, the results were closer and faster, but came out in Optus’ favour:

Provider Ping (ms) Download (Mbps) Upload (Mbps)
Optus (4G) 69 18.46 15.37
Telstra (4G) 95 14.43 13.26

Based on the comments from readers on yesterday’s story, Telstra’s performance in the Melbourne CBD is a genuinely mixed bag, and that was upheld today. Sometimes, you can get extremely high speeds; sometimes you’re lucky to get a 4G connection at all. When I first arrived at Flinders Street, I couldn’t get 4G (or DC) from Telstra at all. 15 minutes later (and a couple of hundred metres east), it suddenly became available.

That’s life with mobile broadband. Equally, the speeds on both networks are impressive and usable. But I’m as reluctant as ever to state that one is demonstrably superior to the other in terms of performance in areas where both are available.

On the agenda for next week: repeated tests in the same location over a longer period of time so see what the variation is like.

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