Australia has some of the best mobile networks in the world, we’re utterly spoilt for choice and the breadth of coverage and the outright speed of our networks are the envy of many. But while we push the boundaries of innovation with new 5G network roll-outs, are the older network technologies suffering?

Having tested both the Telstra and Optus 5G networks over recent months, there’s no doubt we’re once again on track to having some worlds-best coverage and speeds in the future too.

Telstra and Optus customers with 5G enabled devices are easily seeing speeds two or three times higher than 4G when in a solid 5G coverage area. I regularly saw speeds in excess of 500mbps, and up to 800-900mbps at times too. Stunning times!

But there’s a problem. I’m not sure it’s directly related to the roll out of 5G, but it certainly feels that way – at times I’m experiencing no data throughput when in a solid 3G coverage area.

As someone who notices every bite of 5G, I also notice when drifting back to 4G or even 3G.

Having since moved off 5G networks, now testing pre-paid service providers I’ve found a solid reliability on the 4G network. Unless performing an actual Speed Test – you wouldn’t know you’re not on a 5G network frankly.

However, when your phone drops back to 3G, full bars of coverage and the 3G symbol indicating mobile data – you get no internet?

WhatsApp messages don’t come or go, open a browser and just get blank pages, or a loading message.

It’s not all the time on 3G, but strewth it seems common.

It’s not just one telco, and it’s not just me. I experienced this issue when testing both the Telstra and Optus networks, and others have reported similar;

Are parts of the spectrum allocation that were formerly used by 3G now being re-provisioned for 5G or is the 3G network being neglected in favour of the race for 5G?

Personally, I want to hear less from Optus and Telstra about lab and controlled “speed records” – and more about the overall coverage growth and reliability of their existing and new networks.