Which network is Amaysim, Lebara & More on?

What network do Amaysim, Vaya, Lebara and other smaller phone companies use?

What network do Amaysim, Lebara and other smaller phone companies use?

Everyone in Australia knows about Optus, Telstra and Vodafone. They’re the 3 largest telcos in the country, and are the only companies with cellular networks (the towers, masts and other infrastructure that lets us use our phones to communicate).

Maintaining and improving a network is expensive. That’s why you’ll find the 3 top companies are also often the most expensive.

Cheaper mobile phone providers, such as Amaysim, Dodo and AGL, ‘borrow’ the network of one of the top 3 companies. These smaller companies, called MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators), are able to offer lower prices because they’re not paying for the ongoing costs of the cellular network.

They also tend to spend less on advertising and focus on plans rather than stocking phones and accessories.

It’s a smart system, and one that more Aussies are taking advantage of. MVNOs offer great deals on Sim Only and long expiry plans, regular discounts and many of the same features as Optus, Telstra and Vodafone – just for a smaller price tag.

You may not have heard of some of the smaller telcos out there, but it’s worth doing some comparisons to see how much you could save for a similar product. Remember, the smaller companies are still using big-name networks.

Which phone company is on which network?

Each of the smaller phone companies works with one or more of the big cellular networks.

Cellular NetworkDescriptionAssociate MVNOs
OptusThe Optus network provides 98.5% of Australians with 3G coverage, and 95.9% of Australians with 4G phone coverage. At present the Optus network covers approximately one million square kilometres. Until mid 2016, Optus will be the only phone company offering 4G access through it's MVNO partners.Amaysim
TelstraTelstra 4G is 98% of the population. One of the big advantages of working with Telstra is their excellent coverage in rural areas. However, they have fallen behind their competitors when it comes to introducing 4G services.Cmobile Blue
Boost Mobile
Think Mobile
VodafoneAustralia's third largest phone company. They had a pioneering role introducing 4G mobile services a couple of years ago. It is estimated they have achieved 95.3% 4G coverage in metropolitan areas.Cmobile Red

The benefits of considering smaller phone companies

  • Coverage by population is all about the same now :
    Whether you choose Optus, Vodafone or Telstra, the proportion of the population covered by their 4G and 5G networks is within one or two percent of each other these days. Unless you live in the wilds of Australia, you can choose any of these networks and independent research says you’ll get a signal which is about as strong and for about the same proportion of the time as a Telstra customer. If you buy from a company like Boost Mobile which uses the entire Telstra network, you get exactly the same network as you would from Telstra itself.
  • No risk :
    The providers we recommend have month-to-month or prepaid agreements. That means you can try them without risking the farm. Give them a go and if it doesn’t work for you, try someone new.
  • More data for your buck :
    Many smaller telcos provide more data with their plans than the big 3 companies for the same price per month, or less.

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You can expect to find that smaller phone companies :

  • Offer you major SIM Only plan cost savings.
    All of the smaller phone companies in Australia offer SIM Only plans. From a customers point of view, buying a mobile and plan under contract from a big phone company is much more expensive than buying a phone independently and taking an SIM-Only plan.
  • Offer month to month agreements
    Most smaller phone companies offer month to month agreements. That means no contracts and that means you can move to a new phone company whenever you want to.If you go to Vodafone, Optus or Telstra, their contracts tie you down to 12 or 24 month periods. If you are dissatisfied with their service you can’t easily move to another company.
  • Have surprisingly good service
    Since MVNOs operate over the major companies’ cellular networks you get the full benefits of their technologies and national coverage at a cheaper rate. This leaves MVNOs to focus on the way they service their customers. You’re more likely to talk to an Australian when you call Amaysim or CMobile with a problem, for example and awards for the best Australian customer service ( such as Roy Morgan’s ) often go to MVNOs.
Amaysim, Vaya, Moose Mobile and others use the Optus 3G and 4G Network. If you choose them, you'll get exactly the same network speeds and coverage as if you went direct to Optus.

What’s in it for the big phone companies ?

You might wonder why the big phone companies allow these smaller phone companies to compete with them on their own networks. The answer, as usual, is on the bottom line of the company accounts. The business these MVNOs bring the bigger companies is worth a great deal. Each of the smaller phone companies focusses on a segment of the market that the bigger phone companies are not capable of targeting.

Quite apart from that though, is the regulation that big companies have to deal with. The Australian government in its many forms ensures the big phone companies play fair with the spectrum they’ve been given. Spectrum is the frequency band allocation big phone companies can rent from the government. In exchange for being allowed to use it so we can all make phone calls, those phone companies have to play by the government’s rules. Part of the ‘fair play’ demands that the market stays competitive. Smaller phone companies are a key way that this is enforced.

Are there any disadvantages to choosing a smaller phone company?

Smaller phone companies get the same network priority, but not always the same coverage.

Smaller phone companies get the same network priority as bigger phone companies. A cellular network does not discriminate between users any more than an electricity network assigns its direct customers more volts.

However, a smaller brand may not get full access to the network’s population reach. For instance, many smaller brands that use the Telstra network can use 98.8% coverage of the population, but Boost gets the full coverage of 99.6%.

That might help you make a decision if you live somewhere rural that’s not covered by that missing 0.8%.

It is worth noting that bigger phone companies are hairier marketing machines. MVNOs tend to focus on the barebones phone plan and attempt to keep it cheap. You won’t find shared family plans yet or Netflix thrown in with your phone plan from a smaller phone company and there will be no loyalty scheme to keep you coming back. Smaller phone companies tend to rely on price and network quality, and that’s it.

Can I keep my phone number if I choose a smaller plan provider?

Yes, you can keep your existing phone number. The process of moving your number from one plan provider to another is called porting. Just enter your existing phone number into the online checkout as you start the porting process and your phone number will show up at your new phone company automatically.

Summing up

Smaller phone companies are a way that the government ensures healthy competition. There are 3 networks and many service providers that use those networks to offer a range of prices and features to customers. Unfortunately, smaller phone companies have smaller marketing budgets. That means you might miss some of the great deals on smaller companies if you’re not actively comparing before you buy.