Who are Belong Mobile?
Belong Mobile are a Telstra Mobile Network reseller. They’re actually a part of the Telstra company. Their job is to sweep up the growing number of people who are leaving Telstra, Optus and Vodafone for better value plans.
Are Belong’s plans prepaid or postpaid?
If you’re not sure of the difference, read our article SIM Only vs prepaid vs month to month.
It’s worth noting that, since their recent price plan refresh, Telstra’s SIM Only plans are now only available as 12 month contracts. That means – if you want a postpaid plan on the Telstra Mobile Network but you don’t want a contract, the best place to get it is with Belong.
How does the voice aspect of Belong’s service work? (How do I get voice in my plan?)
Belong’s plans come with data as their core component, in recognition of the fact that an increasing number of people don’t make phone calls anymore (see our article below for more details on that.)
They have 3 phone plans (SIM Only plans) plans with differing quantities of included data.
- Small : Which includes unlimited calls to Australian numbers and 1GB of data.
- Medium: Also includes unlimited calls to Australian numbers and 5GB of data.
- Large: Which includes Unlimited calls to Australian numbers and 40GB of data.
Customers can add a $5 per month charge to their own account, on the Small and Medium plans, which will give them unlimited international calls to 33 countries.
What’s included in Belong Mobile’s voice packs?
Calls as we’ve described above are included in their voice pakcs, including 13 numbers and 1800 numbers.
Voice call packs can be added and removed, each month, using their Self Service App, if your needs change as time goes on.
If I pay the $5 per month for International Calls with Belong Mobile – where will I be able to call for free?
The answer tot his question is not easy to find out on the Belong Mobile site so we have cut and pasted the answer here:
Will Belong Mobile have a Self Service App which lets me manage my service with them?
Yes, Belong have a Self Service app available for users from the launch of their service. That’s pretty impressive. It takes most companies a long time to get this sort of facility together.
The app allows you to buy more data (Belong do not automatically add data when you reach your limit) and move up / down plans (from the start of the following month, 24 hours notice required.)
You can also ‘gift data’ to someone else with a Belong account.
Our own survey reveals that people who use the self service app to manage their plan are more satisfied with their phone company than those who do not. I’ve used Belong’s self service facilities for a long time and I can tell you theirs is one of the best apps out there.
Belong use the Telstra Mobile Network. Is that the full Telstra Network? If not, what coverage will they have?
Belong use the Telstra Mobile Network yes. They use a part of the full Telstra Network. Their 4G coverage extends to about 95% of Australians. Their 3G coverage reaches 98.8% of Australians.
What data speeds can I expect from Belong Mobile?
The short answer to this is that you can expect the same data speeds you’ll get on other networks – mostly.
- 4G speeds are up to 100 Mbps (that’s faster than any NBN fixed connection!) with typical speeds being in the region of 2-50 Mbps.
- 3G speeds are up to 20 Mbps with typical speeds being 0.5 Mbps to 8 Mbps – falling to 3 Mbps in the bush.
- If you exceed your allocated data allowance, your speed will be ‘throttled’. (Throttling means they will slow the speed of your data connection to 64 kbps.)
What’s not included in their voice packs?
Calls to satellite phones, premium numbers, 1234, 12455 and 12456 aren’t includedin Belong’s voice plans.
When they launched, Belong offered an International calls ‘bolt on’ – which is still available for their small and regular plans. International calls are now included in their $40 plan.
Do Belong offer Roaming services ?
(i.e. if I take my phone with a Belong SIM in it overseas – say to Bali or France – will I be able to make calls ?)
Belong do not currently offer any roaming facilities.
What is ‘Data Vault’ / ‘Data Bank’ ?
In my view, the best feature of Belong’s phone plans is ‘Data Bank’.
When you’re given data, in your plan allocation, at the start of the month, it’s yours forever. Most ‘normal’ people are used to the idea that they’re given data at the start of the month on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis. Belong are different. If you are given 15GB of data on January 1, keep paying your bill and never use your phone, when you come back to it at the start of March, you will have 45GB of data available to use whenever you want. Belong just keep adding data to your ‘bank’ or ‘vault.’
What Australians want from their phone company most is fairness and, in my view, the way Belong treat data is the fairest way available. It would be nice if every telco did it.
- Belong use the Telstra Mobile Network
- Great value on 4G data inclusions
- They have flexible, optional packs for calls
- Unique (and fair) Data Vault+ Data Gifting facilities
- Only provide postpaid plans
- Don't use the full Telstra network
- No overseas roaming facilities in their plans
Introducing Belong Mobile
60 second overview
- Belong Mobile have been around for a while in Australia as a fixed broadband provider.
- They’re owned by Telstra.
- In October 2017, Belong released their new Postpaid SIM Only plans for mobile phones.
- The range has since been updated a couple of times.
- Belong offer access to the Telstra Mobile Network.
- Their plans provide generous data allowances.
- For example, Belong’s plans start at $10 per month. Telstra’s lowest price point for a SIM Only plan is $49.
- (Although Telstra do offer more data on that plan since it’s more expensive.)
- Telstra’s own post paid SIM range is now only available when you sign a 12 month contract with them.
- Belong also offer innovative plan structures including something new to Australia:
- Continuous Data Rollover – called Data Vault or Data bank.
- We explain this extremely useful plan feature feature below.
- This continuous data rollover is, in my view, the fairest treatment of data you’ll find.
- We explain more about ‘data vault’ / ‘data bank’below.
- Now, Belong sell phone iPhone hardware too.
Review: Belong Mobile
In response to it’s share price decline (see below for the reasons that has happened ), Telstra has released a new Mobile Phone Plan brand – Belong Mobile. Belong’s plans are exceptionally good value, use the Telstra Mobile Network, include a ‘fair’ way of dealing with data and recognize that the way we’re using our phones has changed. Their data inclusions are some of the best available at the price point.
Belong’s Plan Features
Let’s start by looking at the average Australian mobile phone data requirements, using the results from our late 2018 WhatPhone survey.
Reviewing Belong Mobile’s plans show that they have data allocations to cover a broad range of needs.
Source : WhatPhone Survey
You can see from this chart (above), , that people’s data usage varies enormously. The type of phone you have, how new it is, whether it’s 4G or not, whether it’s an iPhone and how big the screen all influence the data requirements people have as much as their personal preferences do.
It’s quite remarkable then, that two of Belong’s plans appear to cover everyone on the chart offering the right amount of data with a very small plan range.
Belong have fiveplans to pick from.
- Belong have a 5 Plans with differing data and voice inclusions.
Between them, these plans cover every data need . Their recent addition of a plan with a $10 monthly fee and 1GB of data means they can compete with budget offerings on lesser networks.
- Their price plans are built around data inclusions – because that’s what people want more :
Belong know you want to you pick your data allowance before anything else.
- These plans are among the best data allowances at these price points
Belong offer access to the Telstra Mobile Network at a lower monthly fee than any other provider
- Then add voice and IDD.
Users can also add Domestic (Australian) calls and International Calls for an additional $5 each, to most plans.
See below for a comparison between Belong and other’s mobile plans.
Data Banking / Data Vault
- What is the ‘Data Vault / Bank’ in Belong’s plans ?:
When it’s this competitive, new entrants to the market for phone plans (like Belong and the 5 plans they have here) need to bring something extra to the game. Data Rollover is a term which has been around for some time. Optus offer it on many of their prepaid plans. The particulars of how Belong manage their data rollover are a bit differenet however. to the way Optus treats them. Belong do data rollover the way your data allocation SHOULD work. The approach they’ve taken is currently unique to Belong Mobile (and Telstra, Belong’s parent company) in Australia – although we hope other phone companies, having seen this plan features, will offer the same thing. With Data Bankfrom Belong, when you buy your data, it’s your data forever. If you don’t use it in a month, you keep rolling it over forever until you want to use it. Imagine that Belong paid you your data in to your phone plan as if it was wages in to a bank. If you don’t use your data / wages, it just sits in the bank as savings until you want to use it. Data Rollover from Belong is essentially an eternal Data Rollover facility.
- Data Vault / Bank is good for you and them :
There will be times in the next few months, for those who take these plans, when people will use less data than they expected to. Their ‘balance’ of data in the balance will grow. It’s not hard to imagine people having 50GB or 100GB of data in their data rollover balance after a few months with the company. That makes it extremely cheap to operate your phone. Remember, once you join, it might be hard to leave. – because you’d be throwing all the data in your bank away.
Struggling to figure out what you need data wise ? Read our article : How can I work out how much data I need in a plan ?
Other good things about Belong Mobile
- Extra data is cheap : You get to choose if you want to add it!
Belong charge $10 for 2GB of extra data if you reach your plan inclusion threshold. $10 per GB is the industry norm and, as our recent survey showed around 30% of people have sustained this sort of charge for extra data in the last month. Belong’s charges here are obviously good value. Tied with the ‘data rollover’ facility they have, this ‘auto-add data’ scheme solves some of the problems inherent with the scheme offered by others. The major problem these alternative systems present is the automatic addition of data towards the end of the month. An extra GB provided on the last day may be hardly used and is then lost when the plan resets at the end of the month. Obviously, with a data rollover in place, that’s not the case. If you don’t use the data on the last day of the month, you can just use it when you need it in the future. And remember, with Belong, you have to consciously decide to add extra data before it is put on to your bill and plan. With the others, it’s just automatically added on.
- Now they sell phone hardware too: Belong now sell refurbished iPhones, alongside their plan meaning you can tie together your own deal – buying the phone outright and adding a SIM yourself, from Belong. For you, there is no problem here. Picking up a slightly older iPhone which has been returned to ‘good as new’ condition at a price reduced from the standard Recommended Retail Price (RRP) is a bonus. Whether this part of their business remains viable, however, remains to be seen. Over the years, many phone companies have tried this and it hasn’t worked out. Notably, Amaysim just wrote off it’s entire handset (phone) business.
- They have a Self Service management app :
Self Service apps are now a fundamental part of working with phone companies. Using them makes self service activities (especially data management) easier. Belong managed to have one of these for the launch of their service – something most companies fail to do. The app is pretty accomplished, too. You can add voice and SMS packs (or remove them) from the app each day.
- Their service includes voice to text message service :
Belong offer a free voice to SMS service. If you get a voicemail of 10 seconds or less, they will try and turn that in to an SMS for you.
- When you reach your data threshold, the speed will fall to 64kbps:
When you run out of data, the speed of data you get to your phone will fall to 64kpbs. This is called ‘throttling’. That is going to be frustratingly low. It’s worth bearing in mind that this is how the data service will work. If you don’t know this, you might well think there is a network problem and call their support team. The solution, if this does happen, is simple. Just go in to the app and buy another 2GB for $10.
- You can ‘gift’ your data :
With Belong, you can ‘gift’ data. You can only do this to other Belong Mobile users of course, the person you want to pass the extra data to has to have a Belong plan, to enable your transfer. However, you can move data, from your account to theirs, with no charge, whenever you want to. This is another facility offered from the self service app and another great thing about Belong’s data management.
- Their checkout is fantastic :
You’ll be in and out in 2 minutes – no kidding.
Signing up to Belong Mobile is an extremely fast process.
Not so good things about Belong Mobile
- You won’t get the full Telstra network :
People often skim the inclusions in these plans. Their eyes light up when they see they’re getting cheaper access to the Telstra network. In reality, when it’s resold (as Belong are doing) you don’t get the full Telstra Network. Belong’s access extends to 98.8% of the Australian population with 3G data speeds. They cover around 95% of the population with 4G data speeds.
- No pedigree yet :
It’s hard to tell whether Belong will solve some of the problems that it’s parent company, Telstra have. Belong is entirely owned by Telstra. It’s effectively just another department at Telstra’s offices. At launch, we have no way of knowing how good Belong’s customer support will be.
Belong started with fixed Broadband
“By 2020, budget conscious will be 30% of the market.” Andy Penn, CEO Telstra
Andy Penn, CEO of Telstra believes that the value end for the market, that’s the tier 3 & 4 area in the chart above will make up around 30% of the market by 2020. That’s in the next 2 years. The value segment currently make up about 20% of the market. The customers that join these tier 3 and 4 providers will come directly from the big phone companies. Belong has been started specifically to target the lower end of the market.
A large proportion of Telstra’s profit margins currently come from fixed line broadband. But the arrival of NBN is about to change everything for many Australians. The NBN has not only purchased all of Telstra’s fixed line copper networks but is also going to charge Telstra back for renting the network again. Earlier, Telstra would charge a premium for other mobile retailers to lease and provide their service over Telstra’s networks. Now everyone, including Telstra, have to pay NBN this leasing fee. The fee drops for other retailers but creates a new hole in Telstra’s profit margins – some analysts estimate $3 billion worth.
It’s a tough time to be a telco and with the movement to the NBN, it has never been tougher to be Telstra. However, in many ways, Belong are saving Telstra’s finances from being even worse.
Smaller phone companies like Moose Mobile and OVO are agile, innovative and far more competitive than the big boys on the data inclusions they offer. They’re chipping away at Telstra’s profits. Telstra, typically charge a 30% premium for their service but have suffered a number of outages on their network, disappointing customers and seen rivals Optus and Vodafone spend huge sums to improve their 4G networks.
Belong Mobile offer core plan inclusions with none of the entertainment extras some phone companies now provide.
Source : WhatPhone Analysis
Will Belong help Telstra recover?
Belong’s plans are great. Our guess is that Belong’s new plans will affect the entire industry. Literally every other phone company is going to have to raise their data allowances in response to this.
Yesterday, it was a tough day to be Telstra. Today, it’s tough to be everyone else. Belong Mobile are the biggest change to Telstra’s set up we’ve seen. Their approach is no nonsense – they quite simply offer more data than anyone else and they do it on the Telstra network.
Belong’s version of Data Rollover is a long overdue feature in Australia. We are likely to see more of these plan components which offer an increased level of fairness when it comes to data and data management. Our view is that includes a focus on the management of data using phone company Self Service apps.