Ask LH: How Can I Check Mobile Phone Coverage Before Moving?

Ask LH: How Can I Check Mobile Phone Coverage Before Moving?

Dear Lifehacker, I’m moving to country Victoria (Horsham) and I’m wondering how I can find out before I move what provider I should go with (or stick with.) I’m really stuck with what terms to Google search or how to find coverage maps. Is there a central resource with this kind of information? Thanks, Signal Seeker

Dear SS,

Each of the telcos does provide coverage maps for Australia from their web sites. For the wider Lifehacker community, here are all three as links.

Click here for Optus
Click here for Vodafone
Click here for Telstra

Bear in mind that even if you’re not being branded as using one of the big three, you’re using a reseller of one of their networks: the majority are on Optus (which covers Amaysim, Virgin Mobile, TPG, iiNet/Internode and others), with a few Vodafone resellers (Red Bull Mobile being the most prominent), while Boost and Kogan resell Telstra.

A quick check of Horsham shows that Optus and Vodafone both claim solid coverage, and Telstra has enabled 1800MHz 4G LTE in the city centre. However, as my own recent tests in Adelaide showed, there can be a world of difference between coverage maps and consistent and reliable coverage — which is why on that coverage map above from Vodafone, the company is at least honest enough to say “variable” coverage.

With that in mind, it’s worth doing a little extra research before you commit to a provider. If you have friends, relatives or colleagues in Horsham, check with them what they use and why; often on-the-ground experience over time beats the coverage maps by a massive factor. People online are wont to complain, but it can also be worthwhile searching for “telco name” and terms like “bad mobile coverage” along with your destination. Don’t take what you find as gospel, but use it to inform your final decision.

It may be worthwhile checking with your current provider what they’d be willing to do if you find you have no connectivity in your new location. Some may be willing to cancel out a contract on the quite reasonable grounds that they wouldn’t be able to provide service to you there — although in this case, at least on the surface, that looks unlikely.


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