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Thursday, 08 October 2020 11:25

Telstra's 5G speed self-test opens itself up to ridicule

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Telstra's 5G speed self-test opens itself up to ridicule Pixabay

Telstra is opening itself up to ridicule by touting figures collected by its own staff to "prove" that its 5G service is faster than a competitor – which, in this case, is Optus.

Exactly why the company is obsessed with being called the fastest is beyond my comprehension. If it provides an acceptable 5G service, and looks after its users well, then word of mouth will ensure that the take-up grows.

That latter condition is key. It is not something for which Telstra is known.

On Tuesday, Telstra provided data for five suburbs in NSW, along with a short, jerky video. Why these five suburbs and not others? That is the first question that springs to mind. Was it because the data in other cases did not back up the "we are the fastest" mantra?

I have tested Telstra's 5G once, in the heart of Melbourne's CBD, with an OPPO Reno 5G 10x Zoom in December last year and the best speed I got as 185Mbps down and 33Mbps up. The ping time was 12ms and the jitter was 14ms.

In the case of Optus, I have tested several phones [1, 2, 3, 4] and got a high of 531Mbps down while the lowest was somewhere in the low 300s.

I tested Optus 5G home Internet plan some time back and found it more than acceptable, compared to the NBN offerings (I have been on HFC for the last three years).

I asked Telstra for any 5G device they had for a test — this was before the recent announcement of their 5G plans — but never heard back. Of course, I would never have agreed to selective testing.

Any time you do a test using the Ookla app, you also get upload speeds. But Telstra has not included this data in the material it sent out. Why?

What about the ping and jitter timings? Those would be of interest to gamers and those who have VoIP in their setups respectively.

If Telstra thinks circulating this kind of information — which I can only liken to that which is dribbled out to journalists living under a dictator — is going to give it a good name, well, its media flacks need to have their heads examined.

Given the fact that 5G rollout costs have risen due to the ban on Huawei, providers are very careful about the suburbs they choose. Even within a suburb, only the areas deemed to yield good returns in the shape of subscribers are chosen.

The world+dog is aware that Telstra is somewhat handicapped in competing against the NBN Co due to the fact that there is an agreement between the two companies. 

Thus, one is not expecting miracles in Australia. Telstra should probably get used to the fact that it cannot control the narrative any longer.


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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