TPG Mobile Plan <br>Review and Comparison

TPG Mobile Plan
Review and Comparison

  • Use the Vodafone network
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Common Questions About TPG

Why do I need to be careful about the TPG $10 plan.

TPG have an ever changing list of offers to market, often with initial pricing which is very appealing (e.g. First 6 months free.)

Unfortunately, when users went over their data limits (this is called ‘overage‘ in the industry) they were charged 10 cents per MB! That’s $100 per GB!

To be fair to them, TPG have since changed how they do their out of bundle charging. We have, however, heard complaints about TPG’s pricing when people attempt to leave the company. In some cases, it appears TPG are not refunding credit balances when customers try to leave. If I was a customer, I wouldn’t like that very much.

What has changed with TPG ?

  • TPG started selling mobile services in 2008 on the Optus network. They now use the Vodafone network.

You may be aware of the merger attempt that Vodafone and TPG are going through. Typically in a phone company, when there is talk of a merger, almost all work stops – until the staff involved know whether they will still have a job after the companies amalgamate (I was there when Vodafone merged with ‘3’ , for example.)

Are there any better places to get a SIM than TPG

In our view, the questionable charging practices that TPG undertake and the distraction caused by the merger are good reasons to steer clear of TPG.

There are better deals available on other networks.

  • Better deals on the Optus network : Consider OVO Mobile and Jeenee – both offer access to the full Optus 3G and 4G network and have best in market data allowances.
  • Better deals on the Telstra network : Consider Belong Mobile and Boost Mobile – both use the Telstra mobile network.

Or you can see all of our SIM Only plans.

Help ! My TPG coverage is no good. What can I do ?

Each of the phone networks cover some areas better than others. If you have been given your new SIM card by TPG and moved across to the Vodafone network, it could be that your coverage has suffered. All is not lost.

TPG do not offer contract plans so you can port / move to a new provider whenever you’d like to.

How will the TPG move from the Optus to Vodafone networks affect me ?

The TPG move from Optus to Vodafone, announced back in 2015, took place a couple of years ago. We explained the process that users were being asked to follow in the review on this page – below.

Why did TPG change from using the Optus network to the Vodafone network?

TPG cited a number of reasons as their motivation for this move.  Few of them actually affected TPG’s customers.

There were, we understand, consistent billing system issues which reduced the profitability of TPG’s offers in market. Optus was also pressuring TPG to lower the inclusion in its plans because they were ‘too competitive’. This all seems a bit nonsensical now, of course. Since TPG moved to Vodafone, Optus itself has significantly increased its plans’ data inclusions – way beyond, in fact, anything TPG used to offer.

Does TPG have access to the Vodafone 4G network ?

Yes, it does. Other MVNOs which currently resell the Vodafone 4G network include Hello Mobile, Kogan Mobile,  Think Mobile, and Lebara Mobile.

How is Vodafone’s coverage these days ?

It’s actually not that bad. In fact, in metro areas (that’s mostly Australia’s big cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Perth, Brisbane etc.) independent research says that Vodafone’s coverage is at least as good as Telstra and Optus’ in those areas.

Outside the main cities, however, Vodafone’s network is not nearly as good as Optus / Telstra’s.

I don’t know where to begin in moving away from TPG !

We have a Solution Chooser which can help you.

What's good

  • Typically attractive introductory pricing
  • TPG plans are prepaid : Totally predictable
  • Use Vodafone 4G network

What's bad

  • Questionable charging practices
  • Distracted by a merger with Vodafone
  • Coverage in doubt outside main cities
  • We do not recommend TPG

Intro – 60 second guide

TPG and Vodafone Hutchinson Australia were finally allowed to partner two years ago after a federal judge approved their $15bn merger. The newly merged telco took on the name TPG Telecom, although both Vodafone and TPG still sell separate phone plans, along with some other TPG Telecom subsidiaries. However, they all use Vodafone’s mobile network.

Prior to the merger, TPG resold the Optus 4G network. They later switched to the Vodafone 3G network, which resulted in  some losses in coverage that in turn caused some understandable concern. However, TPG now resells Vodafone’s mobile 4G network, and so there is no longer much of a shift in the coverage they have. This project was worth an estimated 1 billion dollars and saw TPG subscribers ported to the Vodafone Australia network, in exchange for TPG servicing, installing and connecting Vodafone ‘back-haul.’ Insiders say the deal took the better part of a year to negotiate.

  • TPG teaming up with Vodafone Australia meant that all existing TPG customers were ‘ported’ (transferred)  to the Vodafone network, over some months.
  • This was a dramatic change that customers did not choose. Many began leaving TPG behind, especially due to the loss in coverage resulting from the 4G to 3G downgrade at the time.
  • For existing TPG customers that were unhappy with the move to Vodafone, they had a number of sensible options available to them.
  • We laid out your key alternatives on the Optus 4G network in the article below.
  • We also included an option on the Telstra Mobile Network.
  • Although there would be no actual termination fee if you decided to switch, you would have had to forfeit your unused credit/balance.
  • TPG is moved all of its existing 320,000 customers + new subscribers to the Vodafone network. We offer you a suite of options to get better value and get a better 4G experience on the Optus / Telstra Mobile Network.

Why TPG left Optus

It was a bold move for TPG to leave Optus behind and start the migration of its customer base to Vodafone’s network. It involved a forward-thinking mentality and an ambitious project. Optus’ report card from TPG read like a litany of incompetence. TPG executives publicly criticized Optus for a number of ongoing issues.

First among them is the onerous commercial requirements that Optus historically steeped on TPG. For TPG, a company known for the sharpness of its pencil, being told by Optus, as they reported they were, that they must reduce the competitiveness of their deals, must have been hard to hear. In today’s market place, it seems crazy. All of Optus’ resellers (including Amaysim, Virgin and OVO, for example ) are running non-stop aggressive acquisition promotions. Taking away TPG’s ability to do the same made no sense.

But it wasn’t only headline pricing that TPG objected to. Again, publicly, TPG executives chided Optus for consistent, ongoing billing issues. CDRs (Customer Data Records) were provided late by Optus to TPG. The result was that TPG customers could have been using the network to make a phone call or download data and TPG wouldn’t have known until after it had sent the customer their bill. TPG then had to ‘swallow’ the difference.

Why TPG wanted to work with Vodafone

“We’re confident in Vodafone’s 4G core network infrastructure. We took a number of steps to make sure the Vodafone network is in top shape before we committed our customer base to it. That network has a lot of headroom for expansion.”

“There’s two parts of this deal. We as TPG Telecom are selling Vodafone [access to] dark fibre. We’re putting in the infrastructure to carry the traffic,” – Craig Levy, COO at TPG Telecom.

As part of the deal, TPG will be providing ‘Back haul’ services to Vodafone. Backhaul is simply Fiber Optic cable infrastructure, which links the mobile towers your phone talks through, to the network. Purchasing TPG’s ‘Dark Fiber’ backhaul prepares Vodafone for ever-rising levels of data on its network. In the future, Dark Fiber will assist with managing the data from the arrival of a far more connected Industrial Internet (the Internet Of Things.) It will also underpin Vodafone’s 5G services which, the company says, should be ready by 2021.

What did TPG partnering with Vodafone mean for you ?

What did this mean for TPG customers ?

“We’re going to be inviting our mobile base. We’re going to give them a bonus period that lets them get a welcome pack and try the network without paying for it. Their access plan will come for free for a period, if it’s an included value plan. “If customers take the new offer from us and they’re not happy, they can choose another alternative.” – Craig Levy, COO at TPG Telecom.

  • All existing TPG customers were ‘ported’ ( transferred, without your consent ) to the Vodafone network.
  • The transfer happened in batches, over a matter of months.
  • Customers were sent a new TPG / Vodafone SIM, whether they asked for it or not.
  • You had to replace your old TPG SIM with the new one.
  • However, since TPG do not have contract plans, any customer who wanted to stay on the Optus 4G network could simply move either to Optus or another Optus network reseller.
  • You were likely to be offered a sweetener (see quote) to entice you to stay with TPG.

But existing customers chose the Optus network - many have concerns

Naturally, many existing TPG customers had concerns during the switch from Optus to Vodafone’s network. While the Vodafone network had improved a great deal, Optus’ was and is widely considered of a higher standard. Upgrades of more than $3 billion dollars have been made to the Vodafone network in the last few years. Their press releases suggest that these improvements allow it (the Vodafone Network) to compete directly with the other two major Australian telecoms, Telstra and Optus.

Existing TPG customers at that time had been using the Optus network. TPG simply resold Optus access. This had been the case since TPG Mobile was founded in 2008.

The Vodafone Australia network

In Australia, Vodafone and their network covers more than 96% of the metro Australian population and provides consumers with access to its high-quality 4G network. Vodafone was among the first Australian major telecommunication companies to introduce virtualised infrastructure. They are also the first company in Australia to provide their customers with high definition voice calls over the 4G network.

What other choices do TPG customers have?

With so many mobile providers operating on different networks in Australia today, selecting the best provider for your needs can be a daunting task. We have tried to make choosing a little easier by listing Australia’s mobile carriers and mobile virtual network operators (MVNO), their operational frequencies, and the services they offer.

If customers wanted to switch, did TPG penalize them?

Back when the move from Optus to Vodafone was announced, one of TPG’s “sweeteners” was a $10-per-month plan offer. It seemed like a great deal on the surface, but it really wasn’t, and we advised against it. The plan only offered a paltry 1.5GB of data, and when that was exhausted the customer would be charged 10 cents per MB of excess data, which amounted to $100 per excess GB. This overage charge was ridiculous, and we called TPG on it by advising customers to stay away from the plan and look at the many other MVNOs available.

TPG has since eliminated that offer, settling instead on the straightforward $19.99 plan. Today, that plan offers 4GB of data, and additional data is charged at $10 per 1GB block. But overage charges weren’t the only concerns for TPG customers at the time. After all, if they were unhappy with the move from Optus to Vodafone, switching to a different MVNO on the Optus or Telstra network may have required an early termination. Although TPG does not charge an early termination fee, the company does not return any unused credits or balance once such a termination takes place. The customer would have had to forfeit whatever balance was on the account in the event the customer chose to switch to another MVNO on the Optus or Telstra network.

This balance or unused credit forfeiture was the case back then and remains the case now. If you want to switch from TPG to a different MVNO today, your unused credit will be forfeited. This is a larger issue that’s not pertinent to TPG alone; several other Australian telcos operate under similar terms. In fact, a lot of companies charge a separate early termination fee, with companies like Southern Phone even charging a $10 per month fee for the act. In this case, TPG’s terms concerning early termination weren’t new or as bad as some others, but it was still unfair considering the fact that many of its customers wanted to switch to other MVNOs because they weren’t happy with the switch to Vodafone. What made it more unfair is the fact that the switch to Vodafone occurred without the user’s consent.

Summing Up

TPG themselves appear to have sustained a number of serious and ongoing issues in their network reseller agreement with Optus. Moving to Vodafone’s network did provide benefit both to TPG ( in the form of cheaper prices for their customers ) and Vodafone ( access to Dark Fiber which prepares them well for the future ).

Their headline offer of a $10 plan including $550 of voice and SMS and 1.5GB of data appeared attractive on its face. Unfortunately, for those who took it, large bills seemed likely.  Cynically, TPG included 1.5GB of 4G data on the Vodafone network. This was a reasonably low amount for most smartphones users at the time, and even more so now. To make matters worse, when you had used your 1.5GB, you were charged at 10 cents per MB. That is over $100 per GB !  These crazy overage charges were the cause of so much complaint that most phone companies, including Optus, Vodafone and Telstra refused to charge in this way. We recommended that you avoid this plan. The plan no longer exists, however, and TPG now charges $10 per 2GB block of additional data.

However, none of that addresses the very real concerns of TPG customers who signed up with them specifically for reduced-price access to the Optus 4G network. There were two potential problems. First, Vodafone’s history of mismanaging this sort of transition was still fresh. It was partly the network migration of ‘3’ customers on to the Vodafone network during the two companies’ 2009 merger which gave Vodafone the capacity management problem resulting in ‘Vodafail‘. They lost more than 1m customers as a result and have never really recovered. Second, every single TPG Mobile customer was expected to experience a marked difference in their network experience. At the very least, ‘some’ of the migrated users were expected to have a worse experience on Vodafone’s network than they did on Optus’.

The good news was and is that there has never been a more competitive time in the Australian phone market. There are a number of Optus 4G resellers on this page alone which can get you back on to Optus 4G with virtually zero hassle. Additionally, there are alternatives for 3G services on Vodafone and 4G services which use the Telstra Mobile Network.

TPG are a phone company which is going somewhere. Since their Vodafone announcement, they have bought iiNet, a rival broadband provider, for $1.56 bn. The extremely tight bond that TPG have put together in this two-way deal with Vodafone ensconces them in Vodafone’s strategy. In fact, that bond led to a merger between the two companies, which was approved by a federal judge less than 2 years ago. Having a third telco in Australia which offers both mobile and broadband services could be the competition injection we need. In an already turbocharged commercial environment, the newly formed TPG Telecom (TPG / Vodafone merged) might just take us to the next level of competition.

Extra Resources – Articles of use to Prepaid Users

  • Prepaid plans now have streamed audio included in them :
    You may not be aware of one of the biggest improvements to prepaid plans since they were originally devised. 2016 saw the release of prepaid plans which have streamed audio included in them. If you already have a Spotify, iTunes Music, Google Music or IHeartRadio account, then you might like to find out more about streamed audio in phone plans.
  • Entertainment options are becoming common :
    You may also have started hearing about the increasing inclusion of entertainment options in prepaid and SIM Only phone plans. We also examine Optus’ mobile phone plan Entertainment options, Telstra’s mobile phone plan Entertainment options and compare the two.
  • Prepaid vs postpaid vs month to month :
    We’ve given a short explanation on this page but if you want more detail on the types of phone plans in Australia, this is it. In Prepaid vs postpaid vs month to month, we explain and the best value alternatives you have and when it makes sense to use each type.
  • Prepaid vs Postpaid –the simple trick to getting the best value :
    The tier 1 telcos ( Optus Telstra and Vodafone ) all have both prepaid and postpaid plans. Sometimes they have both types of plan at the same price point.
  • Does it make sense to buy a Phone myself and add a SIM ? :
    It’s often even cheaper to buy your own phone and add a SIM ( including a prepaid SIM ) to it. We explain how to go Buying a phone outright and adding a SIM.
  • Data Rollovers :
    Considering a plan with data rollover in it ? We explain why they’re not the real solution to the real problem with prepaid plans.

And, remember, before you buy, read the CIS (that’s the Critical Information Summary–a clearly written definition of what is and is not included in the plans from these phone companies) before you buy. You need to be confident in the plan you choose yourself. You’ll find the CIS on the Vodafone website.


Compare all of our prepaid plans

If you need another network, you might like to check our Best Prepaid Plans Page and compare all the plans ( including every one mentioned on this page. ) A list of best value plans using the Telstra, Optus and Vodafone networks.



See all SIM Only plans

If you need another network, for example you’re after an unlimited plan with Telstra coverage, or you live in a city and you’re happy with Vodafone, you might like to check our SIM Only Comparison page and compare all the plans ( including every one mentioned on this page. )


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