Before you sign up for any mobile phone plan, you should have a good understanding about the strengths and weaknesses of a provider's coverage in your area. At a minimum, you should check coverage for where you live and work. After all, no coverage means no use of your expensive new smartphone.
In Australia there are three mobile network owner/operators: Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. In most places, these networks are unique, and there are distinct differences in the areas that each network covers.
To describe coverage, the network operators uses population coverage figures. At the time of writing, Telstra covers 99% of the population, Optus covers 98.5% and Vodafone covers 96%.
But these figures should not be confused with geographic coverage. In fact, as you'll see below, the networks need only cover a limited portion of Australia to meet the figures listed above.
Telstra mobile coverage
Optus mobile coverage
Vodafone mobile coverage
Never, never know if you never, never go
The images above seem to tell a pretty clear story, showing the strength of the Telstra network in regional areas, but when you zoom the maps into the places where you actually live and work, most of us can choose any of the networks and have a great experience.
Also, if you compare the price of plans, you tend to find that Telstra plans are more expensive, especially long-contract phone plans, and it begs the question of whether paying extra for the Telstra network makes sense for you. This is a question only you can answer, but if you don't plan on travelling to regional Australia often, you can probably choose a different network and save money in the process.
If you do plan a road trip holiday across the Nullarbor in the future, you can always switch to a Telstra plan then.
How can I see coverage in my area?
We've built a coverage checker directly into the WhistleOut search engine so you can see what the signal will be like before you sign up to a plan.
Just enter your address when beginning a new mobile plan search, or click on the 'Edit' button at the top of our search results page to punch your address in.
Our coverage maps are located below the search results table, so scroll on down to find them.
What about all of the other providers like Amaysim, AldiMobile and Dodo?
Any mobile service provider that isn't Telstra, Optus or Vodafone will lease space on one of these three networks. These businesses are know as Mobile Virtual Network Operators or MVNOs, and the majority of providers you see on WhistleOut fall into these categories.
We show which network an MVNO works with for each search result. Look for it underneath the name of the plan. Alternatively, check out this guide to MVNOs for more information.
Getting the Best Plan & Coverage
WhistleOut's new coverage check feature supercharges an already robust comparison engine by allowing you to instantly see what coverage is like at your location. All you have to do is punch in your address and we do the rest. This feature is the first of its kind, and empowers consumers to make better decisions when it comes to wireless. If you need help figuring out how to use it, the GIF below should help:
In addition to showing you a map of your area with the coverage from all the major carriers, we filter through the available mobile phone plans and present only those from carriers who provide good reception to you.