Those of you with long memories will remember that analyst house IDC caused a bit of a stir back in June last year when it claimed that Optus’ 3G mobile broadband offering was only 4 percent behind Telstra’s Next G offering across a range of criteria — despite acknowledging that Telstra’s network was on average 60 seconds faster.
Well, now we’ve got some further evidence that despite the constant #badoptus claims, Australia’s number two telco might be catching up — although not, perhaps, through anything Optus has done.
In this month’s issue of PC & Tech Authority (the article isn’t yet available online, that we can see), the lads from the labs tested all of the major mobile broadband services available in Australia, taking the kit on the road from Sydney’s CBD to the suburbs, to regional NSW and even the Gold Coast. Most of the networks performed as expected, but we found these comments about Telstra and Optus particularly interesting:
“Telstra once again took out our speed crown with the highest recorded speed in our tests (9.08Mbps in the Sydney CBD) and the best overall average, but the real story of Telstra’s speed figures was in their extreme variability and how the distance gap between Telstra and its competitors has widened considerably … [and then, in the Optus review] Optus hasn’t become magically faster; it’s more that Telstra’s real-world speeds have dropped.”
PC & Tech Authority surmises — and it’s hard to disagree — that this impact on Telstra’s Next G network is likely to be from the sheer amount of customers joining Telstra at the moment, generally as they desert the great sinking ship Vodafone and take advantage of new and simpler Telstra pricing plans.
Telstra added just 39,000 post-paid customers in the three months to the end of June last year. But the next quarter — as its efforts took effect — it added some 116,000, and then a further 181,000 in the Christmas period.
These sorts of problems would do much to explain why senior Telstra executives have gone to great lengths to explain recently why the company’s shift to LTE is as much about building greater capacity on the company’s network as it is delivering higher speeds. Right now, Telstra is adding so many customers to Next G that it is having trouble keeping up.
Of course … while PC & Tech Authority’s analysis might mean Next G isn’t as bulletproof as many of us have been assuming, this doesn’t mean we should have much confidence in its rivals. If the narrowing gap between Telstra and Optus is entirely due to Telstra’s own problems, that implies Optus hasn’t been boosting speeds on its own network over the past year. And Vodafone is going to be coming a distant third for some time while it re-builds its entire network.
Image credit: Telstra