Telstra Mobile Review – Independant Australian Review

Telstra Mobile

A Telstra Mobile Review is a key consideration if you’re buying a new mobile phone. This site, WhatPhone, is an independent Australian telecommunication ( telco ) affiliate. The journalists working at WhatPhone have worked in the telco  industry for the last decade at companies like Optus, Virgin Mobile, Vodafone and ‘3’.

This Telstra Mobile Review provides an independent review of : Telstra coverage ( including 4G coverage ), Telstra’s Customer Service, Telstra’s Customer Satisfaction and Telstra’s plans.

Never out of the news, Telstra, Australia’s largest telco is worth around $12 billion dollars. Much of that value and most of it’s growth is coming from Telstra Mobile. Telstra Mobile is the component of the Telstra Company  which provides wireless network services ( Telstra Mobile Phones and Telstra Mobile Wireless Broadband ) to Australian consumers.

Telstra Mobile Review – Summary

Telstra has the best coverage in Australia, judged by almost any criteria. The Telstra Mobile Network covers 99% percent of the Australian Population, suffers fewer dropouts ( when a call from your mobile fails or data doesn’t work when you want it to ) and has more 4G coverage than any other network.

However, Telstra’s Customer Service is some of the worst in Australia. Telstra received 62000 Complaints to the TIO, the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman ( the place Australians go when they are at the end of their tether with their telco and just can’t sort it out ) in the latest TIO report. Optus received 41,000 in the same period, Vodafone around 40,000.

It’s worth considering the investments that the other operators are putting in to their networks.

  • In 2012, Telstra spent nearly $4 billion on network improvements, including their 4G rollout. Over 2013 and 2014, they intend to spend another $500 million.
  • Optus is spending $2 billion in 2013 / 2014 and has already improved in building coverage using a technology called 3G Plus.
  • Vodafone is spending $1 billion and, while they have a way to go, offer some of the best value plans in the market.

Realising that they’re behind Telstra in both real and perceived Network Coverage and that it’ll cost a lot to catch up, Vodafone and Optus have recently announced a network sharing agreement. In some areas, where Optus has good coverage but Vodafone doesn’t ( or the other way around ) they will share wireless network coverage and improve their performance relative to Telstra.

Telstra Coverage – Detail on Telstra’s Network Coverage

There are a variety of independent information sources available to determine the quality of Telstra’s Network Coverage relative to Optus, Telstra, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone.

Key Facts on Telstra’s Australian Network Coverage :

Canstar Blue, JD Powers and The AIMIA ( The Australian Interactive Media Industry Association ) have all independently studied the Telstra Mobile Network, against Virgin Mobile, Optus, Vodafone / ‘3’ and found it to be the best performing network. See excerpt below.

Telstra Mobile Review

Note : Click the image to go to the summary WhatPhone Infographic.

Network quality is the defining characteristic of Telstra’s marketing. It’s a constant bone of contention between the networks. Having worked in Telco for many years, I’ve personally been part of ‘discussions’ between Australian Operators about the claims each makes on its network quality.

The reality is that Telstra’s network is better but their marketing heightens the difference beyond the truth. People perceive difference between the Telstra Mobile Network and it’s next best competitor, Optus to be much bigger than it really is.

There is nothing more personal than a network experience. The days of being convinced about the quality of a network, by reading the information available on the website of the telco are over.

Top Tip : Signing a contract with your telco is a 2 year commitment. Telstra’s plans can be $10 – $20 per month more than Optus, Vodafone’s or Virgin Mobile’s. Why not pick yourself up a prepaid SIM from the telco you’re considering and see what the network coverage is in your area. Most prepaid SIMs can be bought for $2. Spend a month with the telco you’re considering and see if the price premium Telstra charge for their coverage is warranted where you are.

Top Tip : If you take out a mobile phone contract with any of the telcos and coverage in your area is terrible – take it back ! Sometimes they market it, sometimes they don’t but the truth is that if coverage is bad where you use your phone, and if you’ve given them a chance to try to fix it, they are obliged by law to accept your returned phone.

Telstra Mobile 4G Review

4G, also known as LTE, is mobile network coverage. 4G offers data speeds comparable with what most people get at home through their fixed broadband connection.

Australia is one of the most advanced mobile phone loving countries in the world. Telstra launched 4G coverage in Australia in September 2011. Australia is one of the only counties in the world to have 4G ( sometimes also known as LTE ) network coverage in the world.

Since launch, Telstra Mobile claim to cover around 40% of the Australian population. They have added more than 1.5 million customers to their 4G mobile network. Telstra invested $3.6 billion in growing and improving coverage in 2012.

Telstra Mobile have 4G / LTE coverage in more than one hundred Australian locations. Their intent is to reach 66% of Australian with 4G network services by the middle of 2013.

Remember though : To benefit from 4G, you’ll need to pick up a 4G capable device. Almost all new mobile phones released since the end of 2012 have 4G capabilities. When you’re in 4G coverage, you’ll get 4G speeds. And, when you leave 4G coverage areas, you’ll roll back to 3G coverage.

The Australian Telco business has been tough for years. It’s been great for Australians. Phone bills have reduced year on year ( telcos call this declining ARPU – Average Revenue Per User. ) Inclusions have increased. Recently, realizing their price wars had hurt them, the telcos started to reduce the inclusions in their plans. In short, ( generally ) they are offering fewer inclusions for the same headline price.

Top Tip : Make sure you have enough data ! Telstra’s baseline plan ( $50, see below ) has 1GB of data included. This is just about enough for an average user now. However, the amount of data people are using increases every year. Make sure you download the self service app for your telco. Telstra’s is called ‘24×7 App’. This will tell you the proportion of the cap you have that you’ve used and help you manage your service so you don’t get charged a lot for data usage.

Top Tip : Most modern Mobile Phones can be attached to your home wireless network and will find it when you get home. Many people play with their phones in front of the TV these days. Using your home network avoids using the telco networks meaning you can keep your Telstra wireless data for when you’re out and about.

Telstra Mobile Customer Service Review

Mobile Network coverage is only half of your experience with the mobile network you choose. If something goes wrong, you’re going to want it fixed quickly. You’ll probably end up interacting with the Customer Care department of your telco. This is where Telstra do not perform at all well according to the same independent sources as studied the Telstra Network.

Again, Canstar Blue and the AIMIA talked to hundreds of ordinary Australians. They determined that Optus’ Customer Service was the best in the industry.

Telstra Mobile Review - Telstra Customer Service Summary and Comparison

Note : Click the image to go to the summary Whatphone Infographic.

Telstra Mobile Customer Satisfaction Review

It’s a similar story for overall Customer Satifaction with Optus coming out on a part with or ahead of Telstra in independent Telstra Mobile Reviews.

Telstra Mobile Review - Telstra Customer Satisfaction Summary 2

Telstra Plans

Telstra’s opening price point for a ‘small’ plan, with no mobile phone is $50. ( 12 month contract commitment ).

If you want a mobile with it, you’ll have to stump up more. Usually, $10 – $15 per month more to cover the cost of the phone.

These prices are significantly more expensive than the alternatives offered by Optus, Vodafone, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone. Exactly how much they’re different varies by device and changes on a weekly basis. We track the best Telstra Price Plan Deals, and deals from the other Operators on our Product Pages. Check out the ‘Top Phones’ link at the top of this page.

Telstra Mobile Review – Summing Up

Signing up to a contract with a telco is a commitment worth several hundreds of dollars. It’s not something to be taken lightly. For most people, it’s a compromise. Key facts to consider are :

  • How important is Network Coverage to me  ?
  • How important is Customer Care and Customer Satisfaction to me ?
  • How much am I prepared to spend per month ?

Consider :

  • Trialing the service you’re considering using a prepaid SIM for a month to see how good coverage is where you need it.
  • Returning your phone if you buy it under contract and network quality is poor.

Good luck finding what phone is right for you.

Neil Aitken

Having worked in 2 countries for 4 telcos on BlackBerry, Data, Voice products and setting up websites for three of Australia’s phone companies, Neil’s in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.