The 5 Best Things About Telstra’s 2016 Plans

This is a time of serious change for Australian telcos

  • Optus is focusing on helping customers avoid bill shock and no longer charges their customers penal rates for exceeding their data inclusions. But they’re struggling to get the message out about how clear their value proposition is.
  • Vodafone have rebuilt their network and have made some fantastic improvements in the way they operate. Their ‘Vodafone Network Guarantee’ means trying them out is a no risk proposition. However, they still have a way to go to recover the brand perception they had before their network disaster in 2010.
  • Telstra are renown for the best coverage in Australia. Their 4G network now covers more than 85% of Australians. But their plans are expensive.

A quick summary of the Telstra plans:

  • Fairer data charging:
    Telstra’s new suite lowers out of bundle charging in a way the other phone companies (notably Vodafone and Virgin Mobile) will have to follow.
  • Lower entry pricing:
    The plan range allows people to get on to the Telstra network at lower spend levels.
  • Share Data Across Multiple SIMs:
    The plan portfolio let’s users share data for free across multiple SIMs.
  • Better SIM Only Options:
    Telstra have increased the range of SIM only options they have in market.
  • Allows phone upgrade after 12 months:
    Of course, this one is subject to terms and conditons. But, for those who just must have the latest thing, they even let you upgrade your phone once every 12 months (although of course, terms and conditions apply).

Here’s what you need to know about Telstra plans. For each of the top 5 things, we’ve included a single ‘Key Call Out’ so you can most easily understand what the changes mean to you.

1) Telstra have cut excess data charges from 10 cents per MB to 3 cents

Instead of the 10 cents per megabyte they were charging, Telstra have lowered charges for excess data to ‘only’ 3 cents per megabyte. These days, it’s data which people look for first in their plans. Data inclusions are the single most important factor for a majority of users.

Why data is important ?

A study by the Wall Street Journal in August last year, revealed that these days, people spend literally 90% of their time looking at the screen of their phone. Only 10% of their time was spent with the phone being held to their ear for a voice call.

What’s average data usage (does this facility matter to me?)

Average usage for the latest phones is around 1 GB although how you use yours will be the determining factor for what you’re charged. Significantly, the use of data is doubling every year. As a result, the phone companies are focused on making you feel better about using more data over their networks.

What’s the new out of bundle rate for data on Telstra’s plans?

3 cents per MB is still quite a lot. 3 cents per MB means a song from iTunes will probably cost you around 15 cents total just for the network traffic (as well as the charge for the song). If you accidentally used the whole of an average usage allowance – 1 GB – at 3 cents per MB, you’d get a charge of around $30 which is a lot, but clearly much better than the charge of around $100 you would previously have received.

How do Telstra’s out of bundle data charges compare to Optus?

In their current ‘My Plans’ range, Optus automatically roll you over to a new, bigger bundle. The cost is typically for $10 extra when you’ve exceeded your current allocation for the additional GB. Optus’ charging is generally more predictable and safer than Telstra’s.

How do Telstra’s out of bundle data charges compare to Vodafone & Virgin Mobile?

On their postpaid plans, both Virgin Mobile and Vodafone charge penal rates. Virgin Mobile’s out of bundle data charging currently sits at 20.5 cents per MB.  That means you’ll be hit with a charge of more than $200 if you use a GB out of bundle!

Vodafone have a 10 cent per MB rate for their current postpaid plans. That’s the same as Optus used to have and around half what Virgin Mobile would charge you.

Key call out :
This is a great feature and a very welcome step forward. We would be surprised if this single change does not lead to an enormous reduction in complaints to the TIO, the Telecommunications Ombudsman. Arguments about over charging for data are the number 1 reason people get cross and leave their phone company.

2) Telstra now offer cheaper options for those on a budget

The plans from Telstra will be offered with a lower entry price. Obviously, customers have stressed the need for more affordable plans. But Telstra also face increasing competition from MVNOs offering very affordable deals at around the $40 per month mark. As a result, Telstra have lowered the price point that they will sell a postpaid contract, to a budget starting position.

Telstra’s cheapest price plan will be $30. They will also offer a $40 plan. These will appeal to  customers mostly interested in voice.

Above the $40 price point, worthwhile data allowances start to be moved in.

Key call out :
The entry level price points have improved but there’s not a lot of included value in these lower end plans. They really are for people who do not use their phones much ! Don’t be fooled. It might look like it, but Telstra have not cut their plans or their charges. They are still the most expensive in the Australian market.

3 ) Telstra still let you split/share data across multiple devices–but they no longer charge for it

Telstra launched the ability to share data across multiple SIMs around mid 2013. The facility allows customers to share their plans’ data between a number of devices. For example, a ‘Smart’ mobile phone and a tablet.

You choose a plan online, call their customer service line and they will let you split your data usage across up to 3 devices, as much as you like.

The capability to split data used to be charged for at an additional $10 per SIM per month. In their recent release of plans, the price to share has been taken away.

Why is the facility to share data important strategically?

Strategically, sharing data is going to be incredibly important. We’re moving to a world which is made up of ‘The Internet Of Things’. Everything in your life is going to be connected, somehow, to the internet. We’ve seen the early stages already. SIM penetration in Australia is way over 100% of the population.

People have more than their phone connected to the wireless networks. At this stage, the majority of the additional SIMs are mobile broadband related. In the near future cars, fridges, light switches and even buildings will all be issued with sensors and microchips.

BMW started releasing cars with SIMs in them in 2013, for example. When that happens, users will want to share their data across their own SIMs. And this facility enables it, uniquely, across all the phone companies.

4 ) Telstra plans includes a broader SIM Only range

The SIM Only Plan (some phone companies call this BYO Mobile) is a great plan to get if you already have a phone you love and are looking to save a few dollars. SIM Only plans make up around 30 – 40% of the Australian market. We have a whole section devoted to using them.

Telstra’s range has multiple SIM Only plans. They vary in price, data and value inclusions. All with unlimited texting included.

As the plans raise in value and cost, through S, M, L, to XL, so do the benefits like free talking at nights, then nights and weekends, and then unlimited for the higher three.

Key call out :
Telstra’s SIM Only plans are the only ones which come with a 12 month contract and easy billing and payments.

5 ) You can upgrade your handset every 12 months

A lot of Australians are very wealthy it seems ! In the industry, the desire to have the latest and greatest thing is known as the “New Phone Feeling

When customers sign up for a 24 month plan, and pay an additional $10 per month, they’ll be able to upgrade to a newer phone after the first 12 months. Features, functions, styles and brads all change constantly in the phone industry.  Telstra have found a way to better support the hipsters who always want the best. All you have to do is find the upgrade you want, and switch.

Key call out :
Remember, you’ll need to hand your old phone back. When you do, it’ll have to be in good working order. Check the terms and conditions before you sign up to this one. But, if you love a new phone regularly and live in rural areas–this is a sweet deal !


Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.