Money Consumer The best-value mobile plans on the market
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The best-value mobile plans on the market

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It might be time to upgrade your phone plan. Photo: ACMA
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If you’ve been on the same phone plan for more than a year, it’s likely you’re getting ripped off by your telco and missing out on a better deal.

A multitude of highly competitive mobile plans have come onto the market in recent months, meaning you could halve your monthly phone bill and get much more data – and it could be as easy as calling your provider.

But there are great deals across the board too, so you shouldn’t rule out comparing your telco’s plans against competitors as well.

An Optus customer, for example, could still be on an old $60 My Plan Plus, paying $60 per month for 3GB years after paying off their handset.

They could instead be paying one third of the price by moving to TPG’s $20 per month plan for 4GB, paying just $10 for the first six months.

Over the past month, most of the major telcos have also introduced ‘unlimited’ mobile data plans.

Optus led the trend in March, launching a 24-hour only offer for sign-ups, followed by Telstra, Vodafone and TPG. Optus no longer offers an unlimited mobile data plan.

Telcos’ cheapest ‘unlimited’ mobile data deals

  • Vodafone: $60/mth for 40GB of uncapped speeds, slowing to 1.5 Mbps for the remainder of the month
  • Telstra: $69/mth for 40GB of uncapped speeds, slowing to 1.5 Mbps thereafter
  • TPG: $10/mth for 1GB a day of uncapped speeds, with the first six months free (to be launched later this year). Speeds thereafter slow to 1 Mbps. However, there is no voice call or text feature

Other attractive mobile deals (SIM only)

  • Belong: $25/mth for 5GB
  • TPG: $30/mth for 10GB, just $15 for the first six months
  • Optus: $35/mth for 3GB
  • Southern Phone: $22/mth for 3GB
  • Catch Connect: $25/mth for 5GB, just $1 for the first 30 days
  • Telstra: $49/mth for 15GB
  • Optus: $65/mth for 25GB
  • Telstra: $69/mth for 40GB

The questions you should ask your telco

If you’re still locked into a contract, early termination fees may apply, but this will depend on a number of factors such as how many months remain in the contract and any contract-specific conditions.

Generally, customers locked into an old contract will need to pay the remaining handset cost, or a cancellation fee in the case of SIM-only customers.

Early termination fees may apply depending on the terms of the current contract.

Telecommunications expert Dr Rob Nicholls of UNSW said that when discussing or negotiating a plan with a service provider, remember there is never any harm in asking questions.

“Most contracts do not allow a change. However, if the ‘endless’ [unlimited] type of plan is more expensive than the current one, the telco may well offer a change of plan without an exit fee,” he said.

“It’s worth asking.”

ACMA advises consumers to ask the telco for a critical information summary. This is a document outlining a description of the service, key pricing information, the minimum contract term and any important conditions.

This also makes it easier to compare plans across different service providers.

A phone call could save you money every month

Telecommunications analyst Ian Martin said he forecasts that the next 12 to 24 months will present opportunities for mobile customers to snatch up great mobile deals.

“It’s pretty clear there is a great contest currently for mobile customers between the three mobile network operators,” he said.

“Telstra, Optus and Vodafone have invested heavily in mobile networks over the past two years, about $4 billion from Telstra, $3 billion from Optus and $1 billion from Vodafone.

“And TPG has started a fourth network build.”

Mr Martin said Australia has reached a point in the investment cycle where carrier rivalry is strong, backed by long-term investment.

“So having invested so much, and with more to come, all the mobile network operators are keen to win new customers and get them to use more of the network,” he said.

“Increasing customers and customer usage on their network is the best most certain way for them to generate a return on their network and spectrum investment.”

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