Telstra’s latest effort to atone for widespread networking issues, offering users yet another free data day today (3 April) appears to have spectacularly backfired, causing widespread congestion and more knock-on issues around the carrier’s network.

Because of national network outages, the third of such in just two months, Telstra offered users an unmetered data day as some form of recompense. However, and inexplicably, the carrier failed to account for just how much strain this would put on its – clearly – already struggling network. After the last free data day, when users went beserk and downloaded up to 100GB a day in some cases, Telstra perhaps should’ve expected that unhappy customers would go a little more nuts this time around … and seemingly didn’t.

The strain on Telstra’s network began to show mid-morning, with fast LTE speeds of 50+ mbps quickly degrading to 35 mbps and bottoming out at 4.8 mbps by the middle of the day.

Despite a significant backlash on social media, and in the face of growing discontent we’ve seen on Ausdroid discussions and elsewhere, Telstra believes today’s free data day has gone well. Telstra got in touch with us about this story, and had this to say:

“The network has performed well so far today and the overwhelming majority of our customers have enjoyed what we expect will be the biggest day of data usage we have ever experienced.

“On our previous Free Data Day customers downloaded a total of 1,841 terabytes and we exceeded this amount at 4pm AEST today.

“We will continue to monitor services throughout the evening to ensure we keep giving our customers the best possible experience.”

Like Telstra, some customers are happy with their lot today, though, with one user on Reddit claiming to have already downloaded some 400GB of data, and much more, exceeding the amount he downloaded last time Telstra offered a free data day.

Telstra’s latest free data day is expected to cost the carrier many millions of dollars, leading some (including me) to speculate it might have just been easier, and actually worth more for the customers, for the carrier to increase users’ plan inclusions for a couple of months rather than just offering data free days that just encourage users to abuse the network.

What do you think Telstra should be doing? Are these free data days the right answer, or are they just a farce?

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Eh, I didn’t have an issue with it. I managed to upload 60+ gigabytes of photos/video/music to my Google services yesterday. So I was happy with it.

Allen Baranov

I have no inner knowledge of Telstra’s network but working at a company managing bandwidth I can tell you that all of the companies that I have worked for have had their usage of bandwidth die on weekends – nobody is around to watch youtube on the weekends :). Multiply this by all the companies out there, I’m sure that Telstra probably have spare capacity that is just being wasted on weekends. Even 400 Gigs downloads are not going to make them notice. This is an opportunity to use up some of that spare bandwidth; make their upset customers happy;… Read more »

Samantha Moore

I was home all day with 4 kids and a planned power outage. It was absolutely torture. I couldn’t make calls or send texts and it was a nightmare trying to check my bank balance in any way shape or form – an hour drive to check the account wasn’t feasible. My reception is still shot at 8am but at least my wifi is back!

Viktor Ho

can they just do what Vodafone did last year and the year before with unlimited data on weekends? for some reasons their 3G network is faster than Telstra’s 4G network even on unlimited data days


If you ask me its smoke and mirrors there havent been outages they have been planned so that telstra could secretly test the limitations of the network for future enterprise…


As a prepaid customer who tries to not use any Telstra mobile data if I can help (I use a separate pocket wifi internet modem) it increasing my data cap of nothing by any factor is still going to give me nothing. So on that point having a free day is cool. I certainly did not go overboard with my usage today but did use more than I intended mostly due to my phone some how unlocking its self in my pocket and then downloading a heap of watch faces for my pebble watch. In a way I would think… Read more »


I’ve read articles suggesting what people can use the free data day for…upgrading apps, OS updates, etc. I have 100GB available on my ADSL2+ each month; why would I save up those sorts of things for a free data day? Those that get excited about it are the ones downloading the entire internet. It might only be 15% (I’m pulling out a figure here) of customers, but the other 85% are further punished by Telstra’s pathetic speeds. Personally, I wasn’t significantly affected by it (I was home most of the day on wifi), but to me, it feels like the… Read more »


this is ok for people who have cable or NBN. for the majority of people who don’t this really is a waist of time. I cannot get any more than 1.5MBps. for me I’ll sit back and watch Netflix. So when my next Telstra bill comes in . I’ll vote with my money and pay the account the absolutely latest possible. I will be looking elsewhere when the time is near in relation to getting NBN. I have landline, Foxtel, mobiles and broadband with Telstra .This free data really doesn’t do anything for me. but if it helps others that… Read more »

Samantha Moore

Ive got 4 kids watching YouTube and Netflix whenever they can – I use my 500GB by the end of the month. But it’s a whole month to use it.


Just curious how offering free data actually costs Telstra anything? After all, isnt it just digital signal beamed to/from a satellite?


who pays for satellite traffic to and fro. of course the customers do . so since it’s supposedly free I guess Telstra foot the bill ?


As a large Telstra shareholder I don’t like this at all. whatever is the largest mobile data plan, double it, then cap it to that. Paying customers shouldn’t be congested due to those trying to break download records to get some media attention and their 5 seconds of fame.


You really have tickets on yourself don’t you. Do you have one hundred million or more in shares ? If so that’s large if not get over yourself.


Bit of an unnecessarily high bar you’re setting there! It would only need 15 million or so to get him into the top twenty (which I’d certainly consider ‘large’ – relatively speaking).

Will Dutton

I actually own most of the high bars in Australia so i feel I qualify to state that whilst this is not a part of the large shareholding of high bars in my possession, it is undoubtedly, as you state, a high bar.


How about keeping your insults to yourself.
As a Telstra shareholder, regardless of the amount I hold (None of your business), I expect the best return. Free data days is way to generous, simple as that!


Perhaps it’s Telstra’s way of stress testing their network?