How to pick a phone plan

Why is picking a phone plan so difficult?

Committing to a phone plan is no simple task. The Australian Telecommunications market is home to various major carriers and MVNOs, giving willing subscribers a myriad of options to choose from. Although the presence of so many options can be viewed as an advantage, it can also pose a disadvantage to the indecisive.

With so many options, some simply can’t pick a carrier or plan to commit to, and trying to compare services amongst carriers is a consumer’s nightmare. And those who are already on a plan hardly ever comparing it to the many other deals out there.

Australians hardly compare their current plans with others.

Most subscribers can’t remember the last time they compared their current plan’s costs and features.

Source: Whatphone

Indecisiveness aside, over the last five years, many telcos have witnessed various forms of restructuring in phone plans, products, and services. These restructuring moves affect both existing and new subscribers in different ways.

Existing subscribers may need to subscribe to new products or services on the network, while new subscribers will simply have to opt for available services.

Above all, phone plans are a necessity in the world of today. With smartphones becoming an extension of consumers today, phone plan subscriptions can’t be avoided. Before committing to a plan, you should consider a number of factors.

Factors to consider when choosing a phone plan

Here are some factors to consider before committing to a phone plan:

Purpose of the phone plan

Before committing to a phone plan, the purpose for obtaining the plan must first be established. To do so, try to answer the following questions:

  • Will it be a personal or business plan?
  • Will the subscription cover family, friends, and/or kids?
  • How effectively will the best plan satisfy my needs?

Additional bells and whistles

Aside from the base value of the phone plan, think about whether you’d like some additional inclusions, such as:

  • Roaming;
  • International calls;
  • Entertainment;
  • Reward systems.

How many calls/SMS do I need?

Outgoing call rates have been declining in recent years. Statistics offered by OfCom suggest that outgoing calls dropped by 2.5 billion last year. This, however, doesn’t mean there is a global decline in mobile phone usage. It simply means more and more people prefer to communicate through means other than outgoing calls.

SMS messages are not excluded from this decline. According to CTIA, SMS messages have been on the decline since 2009. Text messaging first fell by 31.3% in 2010 and has continued to fall since then.

Considering these facts, it’s important to answer the question, “How many call minutes and SMS do I really need?” before subscribing to a phone plan.

Luckily for most, there are numerous telcos that offer unlimited call and text plans alongside data plans. Both the ‘Big Three’ telcos and MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) offer these plans. Take a closer look at some of Australia’s most affordable unlimited plans here.

How much data do I really need?

Data bundles are arguably the most important aspect of any phone plan. Nowadays, a myriad of activities — both personal and professional — are carried out over the internet. In order to access the Internet from a smartphone, one must have an active data plan or be connected to Wi-Fi.

When opting to subscribe to a phone plan, it’s important to pay close attention to what’s offered on its data bundle. Aside allocated data, consider the following:

  • How steep are overage charges?
  • Are there any free streaming services on the network?
  • Is data banking available?

Generally, it is advisable to monitor your data closely in order to avoid being duped by your service provider. Naturally, individuals who utilize streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu would likely use more data than those who simply text.

Can I monitor and manage my data?

You can monitor your data in a number of ways, and each telco provides its own unique way for this. A lot of telcos offer self-service apps for this. You can also monitor and manage data usage in your device settings app. To check your data on your provider, simply visit their website for the necessary steps or reach out the customer care.

Final words: Factoring your phone plan against the cost of living

Australia has witnessed a steady rise in the cost of living over the last few decades. These days, ‘needs’ seem to be more expensive than ’wants’.

as witnessed in the graph above, basic necessities including housing fund, food and insurance are on the rise whereas trivial items including furniture and games are rapidly reducing in price.

While the standard of living increases, the nation witnesses are decrease in trivial items including toys, motor-vehicle and furniture. Source

A phone plan can easily be categorized as a need as communication is an essential part of humanity. However, it will be wise to subscribe to phone plan which does not inflate your personal cost of living more than it already has been by the economy.

Provide some stats on how fast the cost of living is going up in Australia. How often should you check your phone plan, given that?

Sources

 

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.