What is Data-Free Streaming?

prepaid phone plans

What is a Phone Plan?

Phone plans are service plans provided by a telecommunications network which grants a customer access to services on the network itself. These services could include a call, text or data plan, which are often bundled together.

Cell phone plans can either be prepaid or postpaid, SIM only or phone included, contracted or Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG).

What is Data-Free Streaming in a Phone Plan?

Numerous telecommunications service providers offer perks such as data-free streaming on music, such as Apple Music and Spotify, as well as streamed TV and movies.

Data-free streaming in a phone plan is when media is transferred from the entertainment provider to the subscribing individual with no reduction to their monthly data allowance.

A survey highlighting the understanding of Australians about data-free streaming.

A survey showing the level of understanding Australians have about data-free streaming plans. As witnessed above, the bulk of them are still unsure what the service is. Source: Whatphone

When a subscriber watches a show on Netflix, data is transferred from the entertainment provider via 3G or 4G networks to the individual. That customer will have an allowance of mobile data included with their phone plan, but data-free streaming means that a service streamed data-free will not take any of that data allowance.

Numerous Australian telcos offer data-free streaming services for popular entertainment platforms, the most popular being Apple Music and Spotify.

Data-free streaming is not particular to any type of phone plan and therefore can be accessed on prepaid as well as postpaid phone bundles.

Data-Free Streaming on Australia’s Major Networks

Each of Australia’s major networks offers some form of data-free streaming on various phone plans.

On the Telstra network, data-free streaming is open to broadband customers. As a broadband customer, customers can have access to data-free entertainment services and websites including;

  • BigPond Movies
  • Sky News
  • Sky Sports
  • Apple Music
  • Foxtel

It is important to note, however, that certain content linked from these sites such as videos hosted from third party sites, maps or social media content will incur data charges. That means the data for this third party content would come out of the customer’s regular data allowance.

On Optus, certain services such as Apple Music and the National Geographic Channel are free to stream, however, data charges may be applicable for third party videos and ads.

On Vodafone, subscribers may access data-free streaming services via Vodafone Passes. Vodafone Passes allow subscribers to add data-free streaming on four categories of service use for $5-$15 per month. These passes are added to your monthly data bill and are available to SIM only and Vodafone Red subscribers. Their categories are:

  • Social: for $10, customers can access Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest.
  • Music: for $10, customers can access Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, SoundCloud.
  • Video: for $15, customers can access Netflix, Amazon Prime, Stan
  • Chat: for $5, customers can access Facebook Messenger (text), Viber (call and text), WhatsApp (text)

On these passes, subscribers can stream freely at 1.5 Mbps.

Benefits of Data-Free Streaming

There are numerous advantages to data-free streaming being included in a phone plan.

  • Saving Allocated The biggest benefit of data-free streaming is the ability to save data on entertainment services from selected providers. This data can then be reallocated to other necessities besides entertainment.
  • Saving Money. Data-free streaming plans can also help save extra expenses on data every month. Many customers opt for heavier data plans because they would like to allocate some of this data to various forms of entertainment. By being subscribed to data-free streaming plans, they can easily bypass this, opt for smaller plans which cost less and save more money.

Going data-free

Data free streaming is a service provided by telecommunications networks as an additional feature that comes with a phone plan, which allow media to be transferred from the entertainment provider to the subscribing individual at no cost to their monthly data allowance.

All major telcos provide some form of data-free streaming; however, the conditions attached to this differ depending on the telco. These plans can help you save your monthly data and potentially reduce the cost of your plan – but you can also access entertainment without any concern for your data usage. It pays to go data-free.


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.