What is Free Music Streaming In A Phone plan ?

Lorde streaming

Introducing free music streaming in your phone plan

  • Phone plans and phone companies are being broken down in to different tiers.
  • Optus and Telstra’s postpaid plans now sometimes include free streaming video content from services like Netflix, Stan or Presto.
  • Similarly, OVO Mobile offer free streaming access to gymnastics and Australian Drag Racing (among other things.)
  • Optus’ prepaid and Virgin Mobile’s postpaid plans include access to free streaming audio content like IHeartRadio or Spotify.
  • Some phone companies, notably MVNOs offer core phone plan services alone –
  • Strategically, these are incredibly important steps for the telcos.
  • Initially, these free / low cost service elements to your phone plan might seem like too much.

What is streamed audio entertainment in a phone plan

The best way to relate what streamed audio content in a phone plan means it to talk of the services you may know, which are used to delvier it. Almost everone in Australia will have heard of one of these streamed audio providers. Spotify, iHeartRadio and iTunes / Google Play music are names you’re likely to know.

You will have started to see these names pop up on phone company websites in the last couple of months.

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Free streamed audio is where:

  • Your plan includes access to the streamed audio service:
    When you buy your phone plan from one of these phone companies, it comes with access to one or more of these streamed audio services.
  • You can then listen to music on your phone:
    Streamed audio services like Spotify and the rest of them allow you access to music through your phone. They do this by transferring the tune to your phone over the data network the phone company offers.
  • You won’t be charged for the data you use accessing the music:
    Many phone companies (including those we’ve shown here) realize that streaming audio can use a lot of data from a phone plan. So, most (including those we show here) ‘zero rate’ that music.
  • Let’s say that again so it’s clear:
    In simple terms, if you have one of these plans, you can listen to a lot of music using your phone, and you will not use up any of the plan data inclusion.
  • An example which might help is:
    For example, if you have a plan from Optus which costs $40 per month and includes free streamed audio, you can listen to Spotify for an hour a day, every day and you will not reduce your 8GB of data. You still get to surf the web for as long as you like.

The new Australian Tiered phone plan system

This subject sounds complicated but it’s not. We’ve covered the new Entertainment options being provided by Australian phone companies in some detail. What we haven’t done yet is explain what free streamed audio in a phone plan is. That’s what this article is for.

telstra tiered system

As you can see from our diagram above, tier 3 includes ‘streamed audio’ on cheaper plans.

  • Optus and Telstra:
    Both Optus and Telstra each have their own version of ‘included’ streamed audio services on their plans. Both Optus and Telstra offer access to streamed audio content on their SIM Only or prepaid plans.
  • Virgin Mobile is a bit different:
    Virgin, a subsidiary of Optus, offer streamed audio on their postpaid (SIM Only) plans. We can only suppose as to why this is the case. Virgin already offer a suite of Virgin benefits that their customers get for signing up to plans. They also need to compete for customers which are different to what Optus would have gotten anyway (because they are a subsidiary of Optus) and so probably can’t come out with exactly the same deal as Optus themselves.

What if I don’t want streaming audio in my phone plan?

Well, we’re with you. It seems like not many people actually do want streamed audio as part of their phone plan right now. We cover some of the potential reasons for that, below with some ‘technology adoption curves.’

If you are a standard customer, a tier 1 customer who just wants access to voice, minutes and SMS then you can save a great deal of money by avoiding these plans with streamed content inclusions from the higher tiers. We recommend these plans with everything you want and nothing you don’t.

Kogan Mobile – WINNER ! Best value on the Vodafone network

Do you want a single recharge payment with a 1, 3 or 12 month validity ? Do you also want a range of data options to suit most needs ? Kogan gives you both in some of the smartest prepaid pricing we’ve seen. Kogan were already some of the most competitive SIM Only / Prepaid plans in Australia. On top of that :

120px-Kogan-logo_wiki

Kogan use The Vodafone 3G + 4G Mobile Network.

Kogan Mobile  sell prepaid plans on the much improved Vodafone network. Since they’re Kogan, they’ve added their own unique plan features !

Kogan have a suite of 6 plans. Each plan has unlimited talk and text in Australia to Australian numbers. Pick the best plan for you, from their range by deciding :

  • Whether you want a monthly, quarterly or annual recharge.
  • The amount of data you need.

Kogan’s 30 day plan range :

Kogan’s 30 day plans all have Unlimited talk and SMS in Australia to Australian numbers. The difference is the amount of data which is included.

  • $16.90 = Unlimited talk & SMS in Australia to Australian numbers + 1GB of 4G Data + Free Sim Card
  • $29.90 = Unlimited talk & SMS + 3GB of 4G Data + Free Sim Card
  • $36.90 = Unlimited talk and SMS + 8GB of 4G data + Free Sim Card
  • $49.90 = Unlimited talk and SMS + 12GB of 4G data + Free Sim Card

All talk time and SMS for use in Australia to Australian numbers. All data is for use in Australia.

Or take a Kogan plan with a 90 day longer expiry :

  • $46.90 = Unlimited talk and text + 1GB per month of 4G data + Free Sim Card
  • $79.90 = Unlimited talk and text + 3GB per month of 4G data + Free Sim Card
  • $99.90 = Unlimited talk and text + 8GB per month of 4G data + Free Sim Card
  • $129.90 =  Unlimited talk and text + 12GB per month of 4G data + Free Sim Card

All talk time and SMS for use in Australia to Australian numbers. All data is for use in Australia.

Kogan’s 365 day plans :

  • $179.90 = Unlimited talk and text + 1GB per month of 4G data + Free Sim Card
  • $299.90 = Unlimited talk and text + 3GB per month of 4G data + Free Sim Card
  • $399.90 = Unlimited talk and SMS + 8GB of 4G data + Free Sim Card
  • $529.90 = Unlimited talk and text + 12GB per month of 4G data + Free Sim Card

All talk time and SMS for use in Australia to Australian numbers. All data is for use in Australia.

With their multi month recharge options Kogan add some genuine value and choice to the market. You’ll get discounts for multi-month purchases you were going to make anyway. They add the convenience of less frequent running out / topping up. And they keep the total predictability and flexibility of prepaid.

Read our full review of Kogan Mobile.

OVO Mobile – Included free content and great value plans

The OVO Mobile Range

OVO’s is a totally new way of looking at a phone company. Their plans are, in our view, at least as good value as you’ll find elsewhere. But on top of the usual calls and data, OVO’s include exclusive access to exclusive content. They launched their service with V8 Supercar content. Since then they’ve added Australian gymnastics and Audi R8 Customer Racing. OVO use The Optus 3G + 4G Mobile Network.

You’ll get

  • Free OVO’s content – Audi R8s, V8 Supercars or Australian Gymnastics :
    The price of the content is included in the monthly line rental charge you pay OVO for your prepaid plan. Importantly : You won’t see your data balance decline while you’re watching them, the streamed content is free.
  • Live In car telemetry and track side commentary :
    Up to 160 sensors all around the car ( V8s ) provide real time access ( during races ) to data that you can see visually on your phone. If you don’t have Foxtel, or you just prefer to listen to the radio broadcast – the track side commentary team are streamed live on OVO.
  • Live Streaming of Australian Gymnastics events :
    Watch them while they’re on or tune in at other times for exclusive training and performance content.
  • Exclusive interviews and behind the scenes content :
    OVO offer unique pictures, video, and access to stars of the sport including in depth interviews for all of their sports.

OVO Plans for your mobile

Picking an OVO plan is simple. All of OVO’s plans include Unlimited talk and SMS in Australia to Australian numbers plus superfast 4G data.

  • $9.95 Unlimited = $200 standard calling and unlimited SMS / MMS + 1GB of 4G data.
  • $14.95 Unlimited = $500 standard calling and unlimited SMS / MMS + 1.5GB of 4G data.
  • $24.95 Unlimited = Unlimited national Talk and Text in Oz + 2GB of 4G data.
  • $34.95 Unlimited = Unlimited national Talk and Text in Oz + 8GB of 4G data.
  • $44.95 Unlimited = Unlimited national Talk and Text in Oz + 12GB of 4G data.

There’s heaps more to say about OVO. You can learn more about them and their unique content in our OVO review.

CHECK  OVO MOBILE SIM PLANS

All data is for use in Australia.

Is streaming audio limited in any way ?

There are three ways that streaming audio is limited from a practical perspective. None of them are anything to worry about.

  • It’s just the stated stations:
    Choose your plan carefully, especially if you already have access to one of these streamed audio services. If you go with Telstra for example, you can then ‘only’ use their Apple Music subscription as your ‘included’ streaming audio service. If, for example, you already had a Spotify account, you would be better going to Optus or Virgin because their plans (prepaid and postpaid respectively) do not charge for those services.
  • It doesn’t include other URLs:
    Streamed audio content is zero rated (not charged for) by the phone companies using technical gubbins we won’t go in to here. Their technical teams filter the data traffic as it comes through the internet and goes to your phone. When they see that some of the data is coming from a URL which includes, say, ‘Spotify’ they don’t charge for it. If, however, during your streamed audio session, Spotify calls up a voice over advertisement from an audio advert service which doesn’t include ‘spotify’ then you might get charged for the data included in presenting you the advert. This is such a small amount of data it is almost negligible and you shouldn’t worry about it.
  • It is subject to a fair use policy:
    Check the small print on most of these included streaming audio offers and you will see that usage is subject to a fair use policy. Fair use is a pretty standard telco catch all statement which means they can turn your service off if you use it outlandishly. If, for example, you ran a pub and bought an Optus SIM just so you could stream Spotify all day and night to your guests, they might close you down. Any normal user will not be infringed upon this way.

Does streaming audio include use of the service?

The answer to this is a nuanced ‘no’. When you get access to free streamed audio through Optus, Virgin Mobile or Telstra, the service itself is not included. That is to say, if you want to listen to streamed Spotify on your phone, you will need to have a Spotify account first.

When it comes to video content Telstra, especially, has been offering both the service and the data – but only for a trial period.

Summing up streaming audio

If you have an account with Spotify, iHeartRadio etc. then you probably know about it. These are services charged for by the month with no contract so if you’re using them, you want them (or you’d have stopped using them and stopped paying.)

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Encouraging others to use services like streamed audio – the non early adopters, might prove hard. Optus has had little success adding customers to it’s services since the acquisition of the rights to EPL. But then the majority always do take a long time to convince. It took a long time to convince people to use mobile phones in the first place.

And this is what the phone companies are hoping will happen:

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As the internet makes access to new services like streamed audio easier to find and use, the speed with which we get used to and adopt new technologies is increasing. Despite a slow start to their EPL content Optus, Telstra and the rest are hoping that we will all get used to streamed audio as part of our phone plan very quickly.

From a telco perspective, the strategy element of what they are up to here is strong. They are teaching people now to pay for services not data. When it comes to the essentially limitless throughput of 5G technology in the future (most analysts’ agree 5G could be with us as early as 2020) by then, The telcos will need to find a way to charge us for services, not data.

Other relevant resources:

We have separate articles on Optus’ approach and Telstra’s approach too.

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.