Telcos undecided on whether to charge extra for 5G access
5G has been available to Australians for over a year and half, but it isn’t clear if (or how much) telcos are eventually going to charge. We had a clearer picture on this question merely days ago, but now things have changed.
Telstra seems to be the most committal to an extra charge for 5G – at least on its lower tier postpaid plans. Optus is yet to say whether it’ll charge for 5G or not. And not too long ago, Vodafone indicated there would be no extra charges for 5G, but has now changed its tune – leaving the question open.
Which telcos offer 5G in Australia?
Telstra and Optus got a head start on rolling out 5G when they launched last year, and so they have far wider coverage than Vodafone, who has only gone live with 5G in Parramatta. However, Vodafone is targeting 650 sites to be turned on this year.
Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) haven’t been granted access to 5G yet, and that will likely be the case for a while. Right now, the major telcos are building the infrastructure necessary to make 5G as common as 4G, and it will take a while before they start reselling to smaller telcos.
How each telco plans to charge for 5G
So far, telcos have been noncommittal about how much they intend to charge for 5G, or if they intend to charge for 5G at all. So far, Telstra is the only telco that has actually put a 5G plan forward, but even that might not be the final story on how they intend to charge in the long run.
Here’s a look at each telco’s take on 5G plans so far:
- Telstra 5G is only available to postpaid customers for now. You can choose from their four month-to-month plans ranging from $50 to $100 for 15Gb to 100Gb of data, and you’ll be able to use their 5G network wherever 5G coverage is available if you have a 5G device. In that case, you won’t incur any extra charge for using 5G until July 30, when Telstra will begin charging an additional $15 per month for 5G access on the lower tier plans (Small and Medium). The high tier plans will continue using 5G free of charge. They also offer mobile broadband plans with 5G access, ranging from $15 to $75 for 5GB to 100GB of data. 5G access on those plans is also free until June 30, after which the Extra Small and Small plans will incur an additional $15 per month if you want access to 5G.
- Optus hasn’t really committed to either charging for mobile 5G or allowing access free of charge. The telco has only created a separate 5G plan for its 5G fixed home wireless offer, which costs $70 per month for unlimited access and guarantees minimum speeds of 50Mbps.
- Vodafone is in the early stages of its 5G rollout. The telco initially indicated there would be no additional charges for 5G access. However, Vodafone now says it might charge for 5G in the future. In the meantime, you can access their 5G network in Parramatta at no extra cost.
5G is rolling out as planned. So far, Telstra has over 800 5G sites live in 46 towns, cities, and regional centers. Optus had already turned on over 300 5G sites last year, and planned for 1,200 this year. Vodafone targets 650 sites this year.
Although 5G is far from fully rolled out, you’ll be able to find coverage from at least one of the major telcos in several cities. For now, all three telcos will charge you nothing for accessing their 5G networks. In the future though, that might not be the case. While Optus and Vodafone haven’t made up their minds on whether to charge for 5G or not, Telstra customers on lower tier plans will have to pay an additional $15 per month for 5G access after 30 June.