Telstra plans are being shaped by competition
Telstra has been around for a long time — they are Australia’s biggest telco. They sell a several smartphone plans, as well as a range of other services and hardware. However, being the largest telco and having a wide range of services doesn’t always translate into being the best option in the telco market.
Over the past few years, MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) have become a real presence in the telco industry. These smaller telcos resell the larger telco networks (Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone) to consumers at lower rates, because their services are more straightforward (mostly prepaid) and they don’t have as much overhead.
MVNO’s share in the prepaid market continues to grow, while the major telcos’ decline. Source.
As a result, the telco market has become a lot more competitive, which is great for you, the consumer, but not so good for the big telcos. Telcos like Telstra have had to revamp their offerings to keep up with the evolving, more competitive market. This means lineups, more data, and less complications in general. But is that enough?
In this article, we’ll tell you all you need to know about Telstra’s available phone and data plans and how they’re fairing in this increasingly competitive market.
What mobile phone plans available from Telstra
Big T has had to revamp its entire brand to stay competitive. They’ve refreshed their prepaid, postpaid, and data plans. You can purchase their new plans at their brick-and-mortar shops or online, but it’s best to compare them with other telcos and plans before making that decision. These new plans are great in some aspects, but leave more to be desired in other aspects. Let’s take a look:
- Telstra prepaid plans:
Prepaid Max and Long Life Plus – Telstra now offer 11 prepaid plans on their Prepaid Max and Long Life Plus lineups.
- Prepaid Max:
Six prepaid plans ranging from 7 days expiry to 12 months expiry, costing $10 to $300, and offering 2GB to 150GB of data. All plans include unlimited calls and texts, as well as unlimited standard international calls to select countries. All Prepaid Max plans also come with free access to Telstra Air, data-free Apple Music streaming, and data-free live sport streaming. They also come with data banking, so you can rollover up to 200GB of your unused data for as long as you want, as long as you meet the minimum recharge requirement on time.
- Long Life Plus:
Five prepaid long expiry plans ranging from 45 days to 12 months expiry, costing $20 to $300, and offering 30 cents per minute calls, 30 cents per text, and 10 cents per MB of data. They all come with free Telstra Air, data-free Apple Music streaming, and data-free live sport streaming. Long Life Plus plans don’t come with data banking, but your unused data rolls over if you recharge on time.
- Telstra postpaid plans:
Telstra refreshed all postpaid plans last year, making them all month-to-month, no lock-in contract plans. They now offer four postpaid month-to-month plans — Small, Medium, Large, and Extra Large, ranging from $50 to $100 per month, and including 15GB to 150GB of data. These postpaid plans also come with Peace of Mind Data, which is sort of unlimited data — it throttles your data speeds down to 1.5Mbps when you exceed your monthly data limit. You also get free access to Telstra Air, data-free Apple Music streaming, and data-free sport streaming. Also, you get access to Telstra’s 5G network where available, at no additional cost until June 30, when an additional $15 per month will be billed.
- Telstra mobile data plans:
Telstra also offer month-to-month data only plans — Extra Small, Small, Medium, and Large. They range from $15 to $75 per month, including 5GB to 100GB of data. All data-only plans include data-free sport streaming, data-free Apple streaming, and free access to Telstra Air. You also get access to 5G where available at no additional cost until June 30, when you’ll be billed an additional $15 per month.
While these plans offer some great perks such as data banking, data-free streaming, and Peace of Mind data, there are some problems with Telstra’s new postpaid plan range.
- No more International inclusions. You now have to purchase an International package for an additional $10 per month, which gives you unlimited calls and texts to only 20 countries.
- No more roaming inclusions. You now have to shell out an additional $10 per day, and all you get is a tiny 200MB of data (You can add an additional 500MB for another $10). But at least you also get unlimited calls and texts to 70 countries.
- Postpaid plans range is limited, leaving several price points and data points out. It’s almost as if they’re trying to force you to purchase a bigger plan – for instance, the Small costs $50 and only includes a tiny 15GB of data, while the Medium costs $60 (only $10 more) and includes 60GB of data! This doesn’t make any sense from the consumer’s standpoint.
- Generally too expensive. Compared to the many MVNOs offering really cheap plans with lots of data, Telstra is very expensive.
How is Telstra fairing commercially?
Not well. Telstra is losing high ARPU (Average Revenue Per User — in other words, the customers that make them the most profit) customers to lower ARPU plans, as people migrate from bigger phone companies to smaller plans. These high profit customers no longer see the need to spend big on Telstra’s premium, expensive plans, when MVNOs are reselling the same Telstra network for cheap. And as more plans are sold online, the competition gets even more stiff for Telstra. Gone are the days when customers had to purchase plans from brick-and-mortar stores — today, all you have to do is search online, compare the best plans for your money, buy it, and wait for your SIM to come in the post (usually mailed free of charge). This means actual stores aren’t needed anymore, giving MVNOs a leg up without massive overhead costs — reselling large telcos’ network (like Telstra’s) for cheaper than they can.
And the MVNO list continues to grow as new companies enter the market with even more competitive deals. Take Circles.Life, for instance. They launched in September 2019 reselling the Optus Network. They came into the telco market with a crazy deal that, when maxed out, could get you 40GB of data for only $18 per month for a year. Compare that to Telstra’s cheapest postpaid plan, which offers 15GB of data for $50 per month, and the reality of how difficult it is for Telstra to keep up becomes clear.
Final words — How can Telstra navigate this competitive market?
The Australian telco market is highly competitive, and it will continue that way. Expect even more MVNOs to enter the market with great deals to try and steer you away from the major telcos. While Telstra offers some really nice perks and inclusions, they lack in other areas and are too expensive when compared to smaller companies — even those reselling Telstra’s own network.
So how does Telstra keep up? Well, they’ve already revamped and refreshed all prepaid and postpaid phone plans, but the competition still offers cheaper deals and even more data. Perhaps they might have to revamp further, but then what about profit? Telstra is a huge company, and they need huge profits to be able to sustain themselves. Offering deals as aggressive as Circles.Life is just not sustainable, so they’ll have to find other ways to compete.
Enter 5G as a potential saving grace. For a while, Telstra will be one of only three Australian telcos offering 5G (if Vodafone rolls out 5G successfully), making for a less competitive market. But in order for this to work, customers would really have to bite on the 5G carrot — is that likely? It depends on who you ask — only time will tell, but you can bet that Telstra is counting on it.