What is a ‘Data Only Plan’ and what’s a ‘Data Led Plan’ ?
Data Only plans are just that. They are SIMs that you get from the phone company which you can only use to download or upload data through their phone network. You can tell them in the table above because they’re marked ‘no voice’ in the voice section. They’re no voice because they’re data only.
Data led plans are plans which are marketed and bought primarily for their data inclusions. For example, a plan with 3GB of data and ‘PAYG’ voice is mostly about data. People that buy it are buying it mostly to get data. They can also make voice calls for a few cents per minute.
How do I receive normal phone calls if I have a ‘Data Only Plan’ ?
This is a natural question. You receive voice calls in the same way you always did. Data only plans still allow you to receive voice network calls free of charge. You can, as you always did, receive as many as you’d like to. They will be free of charge to you ( caller pays. ) Just pick the phone up and say ‘Hello’.
How do I make normal phone calls if I have a ‘Data Only Plan’ or a ‘data led plan’ ?
In this case, we mean ‘normal phone call’ to be over the mobile phone company voice network. (As opposed to through an app like Viber or Skype.)
Typically, data only plans let you make a call for a few cents a minute if you need to. You’ll be charged for this on top of the data you’ve bought. So, for example, if you sign up to a Vaya data plan, you’ll pay $29 per month (for example) and, if you make a couple of calls per week using their voice network, you’ll pay another couple of bucks for voice services in addition. Your total bill (in this example, $31) depends on the number of calls you make.
If I use a data SIM as a data led plan ( as my primary SIM in a smartphone ) how much data will I need ?
As a general guide, you’ll need between 2GB and 3GB. You should also measure your usage regularly using the app on your phone or from your data plan provider (e.g. Vodafone.) You should be particularly careful at the start of your contract. People who use data only plans in this way tend to be high data users anyway. Average usage varies, of course. If you have a newer, 4G phone, you are likely to use more than if you have an older3G phone. For a mid /high user, between 2GB and 3GB is not uncommon.
The truth is, adding a voice and or messaging app (e.g. Viber and Whats App respectively), even if you use them an awful lot will not increase your data usage very much. It’s video downloads which represent the vast majorty of people’s usage. Essentially, You Tube.
Does it make a difference if plans are charged per MB or per Kb ?
Yes, it can. In some cases, this sort of measurement can double the data usage you have.
The simple answer here is that plans which charge per kB are better value than plans which charge per MB.
The crafty phone companies have started ‘rounding up’ to the nearest MB of usage. So, if you’re on a per MB plan and you load a web page which is 300 kB and then shut your phone down, you will be charged for 1MB of usage. If you were on a per Kb plan, you’d have been charged 300 kB.
What is ‘PAYG’
‘PAYG‘ is Pay As You Go. It’s the same as you are charged for your income tax. It just means Pay As You Go. As concerns voice calls, a typical PAYG rate might be 10 cent flagfall and 10 cents per minute. So, a standard 2 minute call would cost you 30 cents. The sum of each of those calls is added to your bill at the end of the month – because you’re Paying As You Go.
The alternative is a Cap or prepaid bundle. Caps or bundles are the typical way of buying phone voice services. You buy, say $500 worth of value. That contains a certain number of minutes of voice use.
Interestingly, when you exceed your bundle allocation for the month, the rates you pay will be PAYG.
If you make a single standard 2 minute call per day you might expect to pay around $5 per month in PAYG rates on most of the PAYG plans in Australia.
Should I be using these SIMs in my tablet or my phone ?
That’s up to you. There are some SIMs you can only use in your tablet. For these, you’ll see a ‘no voice’ comment in the voice value bit of the table we use to compare SIM Only plans, above.
However, there are some data plans which can be used for voice calls too. If you don’t make many voice calls each month (say less than a couple of calls a day) then these plans could make a lot of sense for you. You’ll get a lot more data for your money – which is probably what you want. You’ll still be able to receive all the calls you ever did. And, you’ll be able to make calls at pay as you go rates which are typically only a few cents a minute.
With WhatsApp, Viber, Skype and all the other communication apps which are out there, smart people are moving to data only plans and saving a heap.
How can I tell if my Data Only Plan is per Mb or per Kb ?
The answer to this varies according to phone company and provider. There are 2 reliable ways to find out. First of all, read the CIS – the Customer Information Statement for the plan. You’ll find it somewhere near the plan details on the website. It’ll be a downloadable PDS.
If you like to cheat, go to their website, go to the online store, start a chat and ask the chat representative. They’ll read the CIS for you if they don’t know off the top of their head.
The sad truth is that most plans these days are per MB charged.
If I use these ‘data led plans’ in place of my usual voice + SMS SIM, will I save any money ?
In simple terms, using data from a big bundle for voice calls (through an App like Skype or Viber) is very, very cheap.
Ultimately, everything is data, the phone companies just charge you more to transmit your voice than to transmit the same quantity of data as a picture over the data network.
You can find out more about that in the article on this page. We also provide you with some practical steps on how you can minimize your costs and choose the right plan for you.
You’ve never had it so good with data plans. Choose OVO’s Tablet plans or YoMoJo’s equivalents for ultimate value.
- All of these SIMs are ideal for tablets
- You can make calls using Viber, Skype or Facetime
- Mobile now a real alternative to fixed broadaband
- PAYG plans let you make normal voice calls
- You can receive a unlimited calls on PAYG plans
- Using these as your main SIM is still unusual
- You'll only know your voice spend at end of month
- Takes some getting used to
Data plans for tablets and data led plans for phones.
Data SIMs are also known as mobile broadband SIMs. They give you and your tablet computer or laptop access to the phone companies’ wireless networks – and the super- fast data you want. With the right package, you’ll get internet data whenever you’re in coverage.
Do you have a cellular enabled tablet, ‘dongle’ or a wireless modem ? An increasing proportion of Australian households and businesses, do. And if you do own one of these devices, you’ll be wanting a SIM you can insert in to those products. Data SIMs meet that requirement. Sometimes, they’re known as mobile broadband SIMs, this type of phone plan gives you access to one of the phone companies’ wireless networks so you can get internet data whenever you’re in coverage.
According to the ACMA, the majority of people, 55% of tablets have a facility to access the phone company networks using the device’s built in mobile data connection. The rest are wifi capable only. However, only one in 6 people have a wireless data plan. Finding a data plan that makes sense is obviously not that easy or cheap. Otherwise everyone would have one.
Here’s a summary of what we think you need to know about the best data plans currently available in Australia. There are more details in the article below.
- Data plans are common:
Data plans are sold by almost every phone company in Australia – big or small. They have to be. The average Australian household has a plethora of internet connected devices. And many of them need a data SIM. For the phone companies, these devices represent an opportunity to cross sell existing customers who might be with them for their phone connection, for example, to mobile broadband bundles.
- The competition means you’ll get a lot for your money:
That means there are a variety of competitive data only deals which offer a range of data allowance per customer per month. It is extremely easy to compare mobile broadband plans and bundles. The primary concern, for people choosing one is simply how much data does the plan contain. On the table on this page, you’ll see a list of the cost / data allocation for each provider. the transparency required from phone companies keeps the playing field very competitive.
- There are a few simple questions to ask yourself before you get started:
Where do I need coverage ? How much data do I need ? And, critically, Do I have a 3G or a 4G device ?
- We recommend a minimum of 3GB to 4GB of data for your tablet.
The research says that your usage is mostly likely to be below this level. But, beware. Usage tends to increase over time. Luckily, tablet manufacturers are aware of this now. You can see your historical usage in ‘settings’ on most tablets, both Android and Apple, these days.
- You probably won’t be able to use the phone company’s ‘voice’ network using your mobile broadband SIM:
Mostly, the SIMs you buy for use in a tablet, dongle, computer with an embedded SIM or an ever wider array of hardware will come to you with no voice service. There are exceptions and we highlight them in the table of results on this page. If you do want a phone connection, there are some options available. See ‘PAYG Voice’ on this page.
- Use the phone company app to measure and manage your usage:
Using apps to monitor your usage is a great way of learning how much data you use each month. We recommend their use to anyone with a SIM. That includes both phone and tablet users.
Data plans are sold by almost every phone company
Every phone company in Australia offers a mobile data plan alongside the more traditional voice, SMS and data plans.
The average Australian family now has 8 internet connected devices. Uptake of this ever expanding range is is being driven by larger, brighter, better resolution screens, user friendly interfaces and content.
Australian Telecos are watching the trend. Data plans are big business for them because people are so mobile. Even within houses, some rooms often have coverage the WiFi doesn’t get to. They’re coming out with competitive products to tap into what is a growing data market. Every phone company in Australia offers a mobile data plan alongside the more traditional voice, SMS and data plans. Shop around and you’ll find a range of plans with big data inclusions at a reasonable monthly rates.
The questions to ask yourself
The good news is that most of these plans are month to month. That means it’s difficult to make a mistake.
The key to picking the right plan is to be informed about your circumstances. You want enough data to let you use your tablet or dongle as you want when you’re mobile. We recommend that you consider at least these three critical questions.
- Where do I need coverage ?:
Every phone company has a set of data plans. That means that, as is the case for most voice based services, you have coverage options. Whichever network you want, there will be multiple service provider options for you to consider. Smaller phone companies resell the major networks and can give the coverage you need at lower prices. If you need broad, national coverage, then Telstra is probably the best bet. But, as you know, they’re expensive. Take the time to consider what coverage you really need to provide data where you live, travel and work.
- Is my tablet 3G or 4G enabled ? :
Some older tablets, including earlier iPads, work with 3G SIMs. If you’ve got a 3G SIM ( or you’ve got something newer but are content with slower speeds when you’re mobile with your tablet ), 3G plans will save you a lot of money.
- Do I need voice in my plan :
You’ll be able to tell from the comparison table on this page that most data SIM Only plans have the voice facility barred. That means you couldn’t take the SIM out of your table and put it in your phone. You would still be able to make voice calls over VoIP services like Skype though.
The good news is that most of these mobile broadband plans are month to month agreements. That means it’s difficult to make a mistake. If these questions don’t take you to a data only SIM plan that’s right for you, there’s very little lost. You’ll be able to change at the end of the month to a plan you prefer somewhere else.
How much data do you need?
Considering average usage, safety margin and changes in the way people use their tablets / dongles, we recommend a minimum of between 3GB and 4GB of data on the data SIMs you get for use in 4G network enabled devices.
This is the age-old question. From person to person, usage varies greatly. Some data only plans are better for one type of consumer. For someone with different patterns, different hardware and different habits, another is the right one. People spend up to a staggering 50 hours a week online. How much data you’ll need to cover that depends entirely on what you do with your 50 hours a week and how much of it is mobile.
As a general rule to use when comparing data plans to each other, it’s a good idea to keep the following guidelines in mind when making your choice.
- Know your usage:
If this isn’t the first time you’ve obtained a SIM for your tablet / dongle or mobile broadband device, you’ll have a history that could be useful. Check your previous months data usage. It’ll be available for you online through your phone company’s self service portal. Or you can give them a ring. Try to confirm how much data you have recently used. This will allow you to have a good idea of how much you actually need when shopping for a data plan.
- Consider what you do online:
Think about what sort of data-intensive activities you do on your device, such as browsing the internet, streaming movies or being social on Facebook. We have a section on this below which tells you how each type of usage will impact your data requirements.
Its tough. Tablets have only been available in Australia for the last 5 years but they have caused a real change in the culture of how we relate to the internet. That means it’s hard to judge just how much data each person needs. One of the most common issues Australian data consumers face, is not knowing how much data they have, or even how much data they are using every month. However, considering average usage, safety margin and changes in the way people use their tablets / dongles, we recommend a minimum of between 3GB and 4GB of data in 4G network enabled devices.
Which is the best Data Only plan currently on the market ?
Our advice is that generally, MVNOs provide the best SIM Only data plan deals. Generally, we recommend OVO Mobile and Yomojo for best value data plans – especially for 25GB+ per month allocations
Our suggestion is that you use the comparison table, work through the questions we’ve posed below and shop around. Our advice is that generally, MVNOs provide the best SIM Only data plan deals.
|Mobile Phone Company||Voice||Data||Network||Partner Site|
Amaysim Data Pack
Optus 3G + 4G Plus Network
Optus 3G + 4G Plus Network
Optus 3G + 4G Plus Network
Yomojo Data Only
Optus 3G + 4G Plus Network
Yomojo Data Only
Optus 3G + 4G Plus Network
What are some data intensive activities people undertake online ?
A lot of the content we’re watching is video. It’s the elephant in the room. If you use video on your tablet from places like YouTube, Stan or Netflix, you need more a lot more data than someone who doesn’t.
The critical question everyone always asks is how does my behavior indicate the data I need? Here’s an example to give you an idea of what you might be able to do with 3-4GB of data.
Don’t forget this is just the data you use when on the mobile data network and not what you use when in WiFi range.
- Video Streaming:
A lot of the content we’re watching is video. It’s the elephant in the room. If you use video streamed on to your tablet from places like YouTube, Stan or Netflix, you need more a lot more data than someone who doesn’t. Streaming video is one of the biggest data killers you can have. Taking the average of several YouTube videos, on average you can use up to 2-3MB per minute and if watching a YouTube video in HD, you can use up as much as 6MB per minute. As you can see, if you can stay clear of the data hungry services until you are in WiFi you will wipe off a huge amount of the data usage.
Less critical to determining your needs is an understanding of how these other, alternative activities will influence your data bill.
- Uploading Photos:
The size of the photos which you upload and the service which you are uploading to determines the amount of data which you will be using. Larger photos of around 8 megapixels in size, taken with modern phones can use up 1.5MB of data each time you transact them across the network.
- Social Media – e.g. Facebook:
On Facebook, it’s a good idea to disable the auto-play videos in the app settings. (It’s just video and, like we say, video is what spikes the usage meter.) Facebook set video play to ‘on’ by default. It uses up a lot of data. How much more is entirely dependent on how many videos happen to pop up in your news feed that day. On average social media users apparently spend more than 7 hours every month online. This adds up to around 720MB at 1.5MB per minute, if you access your Facebook feed on your smartphone or device. That’s most of a 1GB cap. Heavy Facebook users should definitely keep this in mind.
- Internet browsing:
General web browsing on your phone will often result in variable data usage, going as low as 1MB per minute up to around 4MB or higher. It all depends though on what sites you visit and how graphical or embedded video intensive they are. Most modern news websites feature auto playing videos after a few seconds and if you browse the news each day, you can end up using a lot more data then you would normally use.
- Music & Podcast Streaming:
Music streaming service websites such as Spotify, use around 1 or 2MB per minute, when streaming standard quality music or podcasts. In all that’s not a great deal of data usage, but when you add up all the songs which you are continuously streaming, it can add up to a significant amount.
- Skype voice calls and WhatsApp:
Compared to other services, VoIP applications like Skype and Viber hardly use any data relative. Skype and WhatsApp calls and messages are unlikely to be the culprit should you bust your bundle.
Using the Self Service app
Whichever plan you choose, make sure you install and use the self service app.
In days gone by there was no applications for your smartphone or device which counted your usage. People had to rely on notoriously slow telecom service providers to keep them updated as to how much data was remaining on their monthly account. Thankfully that has changed now and there is a wide selection of self-service apps which consumers can take advantage of to self-monitor their data use and the associated costs.
By using self-managed applications and purchasing a data plan with data you need, there is no longer any reason to suffer from bill shock.
Mobile Broadband as a fixed broadband replacement
It’s hard to turn on the news in Australia at the moment without seeing an article on the NBN rollout. The new, Australia wide network is a significant change to the industry and it appears to be having some unexpected results.
In the past, the big phone companies you know had their own fixed broadband infrastructure. Telstra famously sold their copper wires to the government so they could be used to underpin the NBN network.
The fact that the government now owns the infrastructure which will underpin the provision of fixed broadband in the future makes the economics of fixed broadband a bit different for the telcos. The margins involved, particularly for the bigger players who owned their infrastructure previously, are much smaller with the NBN taking their cut. Huge telcos’ fixed broadband plans are now sold alongside smaller phone company equivalents. The cost structures each face are nearly identical.
For the bigger phone companies which have far higher internal costs, this presents a problem. Why would they want to compete with lower prices, given the cost disadvantage they’re at ? The alternative they have is to offer fixed broadband sized bundles (let’s say 50GB or 75GB a month) over the wireless infrastructure they own. When they do that, their cost are much lower.
What that means is we’re seeing huge data bundles appear in market to compete with fixed NBN offerings. In the not too distant future, we could see an increasing proportion of Australia’s broadband users moving to mobile. Mobile plans have clear advantages over their fixed alternatives. Since modems for them are often built in to the devices accessing the network, mobile broadband plans are often cheaper to set up than fixed alternatives – which, for example, could charge you both for physical installation and a router when you connect. Additionally, mobile plans are, by their nature, portable. Users can take them out of their houses and still get super-fast broadband speeds. This is extremely useful for business users, of course but also serves segments like students very well, too.
Summing up – the future of data plans
The average Australian is using less and less time making calls and sending fewer texts each year. They prefer to browse the internet, send messages through apps and communicate with their friends and family via social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. They do those things across a range of devices. Often, they use more than one device at once.
Soon, cars will be enabled with data SIMs. It’s likely that many other things will too. You might have heard of the ‘Internet of things’ ( ‘IoT’. ) Mobile data access for sensors and small microprocessors is a key component of delivering the IoT.
Family plans are a step towards the phone companies helping us out here. They are a step in the right direction – towards what we’re all going to have to do. Family plans are the first centralized method of managing multiple data plans, over multiple devices.
With the NBN changing the economics of broadband, creating an unexpected incentive for phone companies to offer mobile broadband plans with huge data bundles and the impending arrival of 5G networks – which could be 100 times faster than we’re used to 4G being – and could arrive as early as 2020, this is a time of change for telco – as always.
You may also want to consider tethering your tablet or laptop to your phone. It can be just as affordable as taking a data only SIM.
The ACMA has a wealth of information on mobile broadband plans and their impact on the economy. One such example is shown here and is the source of the infographic we have used on this page : http://www.acma.gov.au/theACMA/engage-blogs/engage-blogs/researchacma/Mobile-broadband-on-the-money
You can check the NBN’s site for rollout updates here : http://www.nbnco.com.au/connect-home-or-business/check-your-address.html?
Telstra were paid $11bn by the Australian government for their existing copper infrastructure : https://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/dec/21/telstras-nbn-contract-win-will-pay-telco-to-fix-copper-network-it-sold-for-11bn