What will the TPG / Vodafone merger mean for you

tpg-vodafone

The idea in 60 seconds

  • The TPG / Vodafone merger will almost certainly go ahead in our view.
  • One interesting question presents itself – did TPG ever really intend to launch the $10 / unlimited data plan they presented to the press earlier in 2018?
  • My view is – no, they didn’t.
  • Which makes it one of the cleverest strategic moves I’ve ever seen.

The pros and cons of TPG merging with Vodafone in Australia

The net worth of David Teoh, CEO of TPG  rise by around 40% last week from only $2bn to around $3bn, on news of the proposed merger between his company, TPG, and Vodafone Australia. The deal is currently being reviewed and evaluated by the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.)

If and when they are joined, the new entity, TPG Telecom Limited will consist of what the companies are calling a ‘merger of equals’ and will result in a $15 billion corporation, roughly the size of Optus.

There are 2 sides to the argument the ACCC is considering, on your behalf, in their review of whether the merger should be allowed.

  • The bigger the phone company, potentially, the cheaper the plan:
    Australia is a big country which means providing coverage  which reaches as many inhabitants as possible, can be expensive. Telstra, for example, have spent approximately $10 billion on building their network. Those costs have to be recovered from their customer base. The more customers they have, the lower the average price Telstra has to pass along, as part of their phone plans.
  • The more companies in market, the more competition there is, and the lower the prices they will charge:
    Phone companies are subject to the same economic forces that other companies are. The more competition there is, the more they have to compete on lower prices and better service levels to win your business. This ‘race to the bottom’ is what the ACCC wants to encourage.

In our view, the merger will probably go ahead

Our own research on WhatPhone, shows that Australia has one of the most competitive markets for telecommunications services, of any country in the world. There are around 50 phone companies in Australia (although not everyone knows that.) Australia is, in reality, one of the most competitive markets in the world for telecommunications services, as the precipitous fall in cost per GB for data, the main feature of phone plans, shows. Again, our own research shows that the price of data has fallen 75% per year, for the last several years. We now enjoy better prices per GB of data than any other country in the world.

The ACCC themselves conducted a review of the Australian market in April 2018 and concluded (in part) that ‘There is evidence of strong price competition for broadband, voice and messaging services with prices of all services on fixed line and mobile networks declining in 2016–17.’ ( Source : ACCC April 2018 Report.. page 24. )

Merging TPG and Vodafone in Australia would remove only one of fifty telcos from our market. That’s an extremely small reduction in competitive pressure and it would create an entity which would find it easier to compete with Testra and Optus on the $30+ monthly spend segment of the market.

But will the cultures merge effectively ?

Less interestingly, for customers, anyway, on the outside of the deal, the corporate cultures of the two companies involved in the merger are very, very different. The cultural mash may present the biggest obstacle to the merger’s success.

TPG is cost conscious in a way which will seem very alien to Vodafone staff. CEO, Thodey famously walked around the office when people left, turning the lights out, to keep costs low.

I’ve worked for Vodafone in the UK and Australia, and was sent to a Vodafone event on Hamilton Island many years ago, where the company established a party for around 250 sales staff. The most memorable element of the trip was seeing the CEO, Russell Hewitt leave the sales presentations, in a helicopter.

The merger between ‘3’ and Vodafone was brutal in 2009. Those cultures clashed and the office was a stressful place to be for several years, as the two entities came together. It seems likely that TPG / Vodafone merging will be an even more turbulent affair.

Did TPG ever want to launch a $10 Unlimited Plan?

TPG’s strategy in the run up to the announcement of the merger has been nothing less than stunning.

One view of what’s happened is that they have drawn Telstra, Optus and Vodafone in to launching plans with ‘unlimited’ data, something they may never have intended to launch without the threat of TPG’s ‘proposed’ $10 for unlimited data plan.

Interestingly, hilariously, TPG may have fooled first Optus  and then Vodafone & Telstra in releasing plans which offer unlimited data – when TPG themselves, may never have intended to release their $10 plan with unlimited data.

If that’s true, it’s the best strategic move I’ve ever seen.

If the merger goes ahead, what are the likely impacts to you?

If, as seems likely, the ACCC sign off the merger, here are the most probably impacts of the merged company.

  • We are unlikely to get the $10 unlimited offer: 
    The most pertinent question to ask is – was there ever going to be a $10 unlimited plan ? David Teoh might have just been fooling the indsutry. Which brings me to the next point.
  • The merger could mark an end to unlimited data plans:
    Get in quickly if you want an unlimited plan because, based on what we’ve seen, there may be no need for Optus, Telstra and Vodafone to keep them around.
  • More similar pricing : 
    You won’t find a phone plan valid for around 30 days on the Vodafone, Optus or Telstra websites, starting at less than $30. Our own analysis shows that 70% of people on what phone choose plans which are cheaper than that.
  • Real completion from smaller phone companies: 
    In our view, the merger between TPG and Vodafone is very little different, in substance to the merger in 2009 between the ‘3’ network and Vodafone. The ACCC signed that deal off, without concern that it would reduce levels of competition in the Australian market, and that was before many of the currently 50 telcos in Oz, existed. The reason they chose as they did at the time was the plethora of smaller phone companies, so called ‘MVNOs’ (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) who piggy back the main networks and offer cut price deals on them. Kogan, for example, resell the Vodafone network. Amaysim and Vaya resell the Optus network. Belong Mobile and Boost both resell parts of the Telstra network (Boost actually resell the entire Telstra network.)
  • Potentially video content for the Vodafone / TPG brand: 
    With more customers to split the cost, TPG / Vodafone could address their biggest competitive shortfall against Telstra and Optus, and offer their customers.

 

Best SIM Only Plans December 2018

Kogan Mobile – Best Value on the Vodafone Network

Kogan Logo

Prepaid | 30 day expiry | On the Full Vodafone 3G and 4G Network 

Kogan Mobile keep it simple. They have some of the most competitive SIM Only / Prepaid plans in Australia, on the much improved Vodafone network. With their multi month recharge options, Kogan add some genuine value and choice to the market.

With Kogan, you’ll get

  • Monthly, quarterly or annual options : Do you want a single recharge payment with a 1, 3 or 12 month validity ? With Kogan, 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.

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.

All talk time and SMS for use in Australia to Australian numbers. All data is for use in Australia. See all Kogan Plans including 90 day and 365 day plans. You can find out more about this company in our Kogan Mobile review.

CHECK  KOGAN MOBILE PLANS

Telstra Mobile – Best For Coverage

Telstra Australia

Prepaid + Postpaid | Month to month and contract

Telstra are unrivalled in Australia for coverage, with a 3G signal that covers roughly twice the landmass of any other phone company except Boost Mobile.

  • Unique coverage footprint:
    Access to 2.5m square Km
    of the Australian landmass.
  • Unique video content:
    Only Telstra provides data free streaming of the AFL, NRL and Australian Gymnastics in their plans.
  • Fair data:
    Telstra now offer ‘Data Banking’ on some of their plans and provide Unlimited data options.

Telstra’s Plan Range :

All talk time and SMS for use in Australia to Australian numbers. All data is for use in Australia. You can learn more about this company in our Telstra Mobile review.

CHECK TELSTRA MOBILE  PLANS

 

Belong Mobile | Fairest For Data

Best Data Plans 2018

Postpaid | Month to Month agreement | On The Telstra Mobile Network 3G+4G

Belong sell access to the Telstra Mobile Network. They have a simple to understand plan structure with options on data, national ($5 extra) and international calls ($5 extra.) Belong also offer the fairest treatment of data that any phone company in Australia have. a ‘data vault’ feature. Whatever data you buy, is yours, forever. It just keeps rolling over until you use it or leave them.

With Belong, you’ll get:

  • Data Vault:
    All Belong’s Mobile plans come with ‘data vault’. When you buy your data, it just keeps rolling over until you decide to use it or leave them!
  • $5 International Calls:
    And if you want to make Unlimited International Calls (to 10 selected destinations – or to 23 selected countries’ landlines) just add $5.

Belong Plans For Your Mobile

  • Belong Mobile $10Advertisement = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz + 1GB of data.
  • Belong Mobile $15Advertisement = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz with unlimited international calls & text to 36 selected countries + 1GB of data.
  • Belong Mobile $25Advertisement = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz + 5GB of data.
  • Belong Mobile $30Advertisement = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz with unlimited international calls & text to 36 selected countries + 5GB of data.
  • Belong Mobile $40Advertisement = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz + 15GB of data.

All talk time and SMS for use in Australia to Australian numbers. All data is for use in Australia. You can learn more about this company in our Belong Mobile review.

CHECK BELONG MOBILE SIM PLANS

 

Boost Mobile | Best Prepaid Data Rates On The Full Telstra Network

boost mobile logo

Prepaid | 28 day expiry | On The Telstra Mobile Network 3G+4G

Boost Mobile are a reliable brand. They are the only phone company other than Telstra to resell the full Telstra ‘Retail’ Network. With Boost you’ll get:

  • The full Telstra Mobile Network
    Other phone companies resell part of the Telstra Mobile Network. Only Boost and Telstra plans allow you access the whole thing.
  • Free streamed audio:
    Data free streaming of Apple Music (requires subscription) on top of the data included in your plan.
  • A range that includes 7 day and 28 day plans: 
    Boost offer a selection of plans including 7 and 28 day variants.
  • Recharge options from $10 to $50:
    Boost have a total of 5 recharge options for their prepaid plans, ranging between $10 and $50.

Boost Mobile Plans For Your Mobile

  • Boost $20 PrepaidAdvertisement = Unlimited calls & SMS in Oz + 3GB data.
  • Boost $30 PrepaidAdvertisement = Unlimited calls & SMS in Oz +35GB (includes 23GB bonus data on first 5 recharges) data. 
  • Boost $40 PrepaidAdvertisement = Unlimited calls & SMS in Oz + 45GB  (includes 23GB bonus data on first 5 recharges) data.
  • Boost $50 PrepaidAdvertisement = Unlimited calls & SMS in Oz + 55GB  (includes 23GB bonus data on first 5 recharges) data.
  • Boost $70 PrepaidAdvertisement = Unlimited calls & SMS in Oz + 75GB  (includes 23GB bonus data on first 5 recharges) data.

All talk time and SMS for use in Australia to Australian numbers. All data is for use in Australia. You can learn more about this company in our Boost Mobile review.

CHECK  BOOST MOBILE PLANS

 

Southern Phone

Postpaid | Month to month + 12 month contracts | Telstra Mobile Network 3G and 4G

Southern Phone are a well known, full service phone company brand based in New South Wales with some great .

With Southern Phone you’ll get :

  • A choice of month to month or 12 month agreements:
    Unusually, Southern Phone offer access to their plans as either 12 month contracts or, month to month agreements.
  • A choice of the Telstra Mobile 3G + 4G or Optus 3G + 4G Plus network:
    Southern Phone are one of the few Australian telcos who offer their customers a choice of the Optus or Telstra Mobile network.
  • Best for bundles:
    Picking up a SIM Only plan as well as a fixed broadband connection will get you a discount.

Southern Phone Month to Month Phone Plans (All Orange Plans on the Telstra Mobile Network)

You can find out more about this company in our dedicated Southern phone review.

CHECK SOUTHERN PHONE SIM PLANS

Winner ! Prepaid plans with included streamed audio.

optus-logo

Optus are a reliable brand with great coverage , great value and some unique Optus value you won’t find elsewhere.

My Daily Plus :
Unique in Australia, $2 days offers huge data : 
Unlimited minutes to standard Australian mobile & landlines. Calls are charged per min. They also include unlimited STD national SMS & MMSs. With this plan, you are only charged for the days you connect your phone to the network !

  • $2 per day = Unlimited standard national talk and text  + 500MB A DAY. Charged per KB. Auto bump up with an extra 524MB data for an extra $2. Maximum of $4/1GB for the day. All for use in Australia. Fair Go Policy applies.
  • Optus SIM Starter Kit $10.00 = Unlimited calls and SMS/MMS in Oz +  5GB

Epic Data plans:

Epic Value plans:

See our full Optus prepaid review,  check out Optus’ recharge options, or see all prepaid plans.

CHECK OPTUS PREPAID PLANS

 

Strong, Simple Plans & A Well Known Brand

Best for big mobile broadband bundles

Amaysim | Prepaid Plans | Optus Mobile Network 3G+4G

Amaysim are the 4th biggest phone company in Australia with over 1m customers. They consistently have one of the highest customer satisfaction ratings in the industry and have prepaid (28 day expiry) plan range – just select the option you want in their checkout. With Amaysim, you’ll get:

  • Strong plan range:
    Amaysim have a range starting at $10 per month and rising to $50 per month. Data inclusions are up there with the best available and, with Amaysim, things are nice and simple. You’re just buying voice calls, SMS and data. There are no optional extras.
  • New International Inclusions:
    Any plan you buy, starting at $30 per month will now include free International Calls to 12 destinations.
  • Great Customer Experience:
    Amaysim are consistently one of the best performing†phone companies when it comes to customer satisfaction.

Amaysim’s plan range:

You can find out more about this company in our Amaysim review.

CHECK AMAYSIM PLANS

 

Vaya Mobile | Winner of The Best Value Plans 2018 Award

Best Value Plans 2018

Postpaid | Month to month agreement | On the Optus 3G + 4G Network

Vaya offer a range of affordable postpaid plans on the Optus Network. They were recently bought by Amaysim and have cleaned up their image since they were acquired. Customer service complaints are down and they now offer a price match guarantee ñ a unique feature in the Australian market.

With Vaya, you will get:

  • Access to the full Optus 3G and 4G network:
    Optus’ 4G network now rivals Telstra for speed and coverage. With Vaya, you can get access to the same thing.
  • Unique ‘Price match Guarantee’:
    Uniquely, Vaya will match any other price plan you can
  • The WhatPhone 2018 Best Value Plans Award:
    How could we not give Vaya the best value plans award when they will offer to match any other plan on the market?
  • Nothing you don’t need:
    Vaya plans don’t have entertainment options, data rollover, data

Vaya month to month plans

All talk time and SMS for use in Australia to Australian numbers. All data is for use in Australia. You can learn more about this company in our Vaya Mobile review.

CHECK†VAYA†SIM PLANS

 

Southern Phone

Postpaid | Month to month + 12 month contracts | Optus 3G and 4G Plus

Southern Phone are a well known, full service phone company brand based in New South Wales with some great .

With Southern Phone you’ll get :

  • A choice of month to month or 12 month agreements:
    Unusually, Southern Phone offer access to their plans as either 12 month contracts or, month to month agreements.
  • A choice of the Telstra Mobile 3G + 4G or Optus 3G + 4G Plus network:
    Southern Phone are one of the few Australian telcos who offer their customers a choice of the Optus or Telstra Mobile network.
  • Best for bundles:
    Picking up a SIM Only plan as well as a fixed broadband connection will get you a discount.

Southern Phone Month to Month Phone Plans (All Green Plans on the Optus 3G+4G Plus Network.) 

Southern Phone 12 Months Phone Plans (All Green Plans on the Optus 3G+4G Plus Network.) 

You can find out more about this company in our dedicated Southern phone review.

CHECK SOUTHERN PHONE SIM PLANS

 

SpinTel

Postpaid | SIM Only | Month to Month Agreement | Optus 3G + 4G Plus Network

SpinTel are a postpaid provider with a one of the most useful data management features we’ve seen. With SpinTel plans your data is ‘capped’ when you reach your limit. With most other post paid phone plan providers, when you hit your limit, you’ll be charged $10 for an extra GB which is not as fair as we’d like to see.

With SpinTel you’ll get:

  • Great data pricing:
    Compare SpinTel to the best of the rest and you’ll see, at the price points they sell, SpinTel are often the best value.
  • ‘Capped plan’ data limits:
    If you want your phone service’s data to stop at a limit you set, SpinTel are the right phone company for you. So far as we know, they are the only company to offer this feature.

SpinTel plans for your mobile.

CHECK SPINTEL SIM PLANS

 

Yomojo plans

Yomojo Logo

Prepaid | 30 day expiry | On the Full Optus 4G Plus Network 

Yomojo are unique in the Australian market. They offer you an unbelievable range of plans. Yomojo’s plans are completely configurable through their website. They also have some pre-configured unlimited plans for those who want a more standardised plan.

  • Prepay Plans :
    Yomojo recently revised their plan range and now offer prepaid plans only.
  • Use the full Optus 4G Plus network :
    Yomojo use the full Optus 4G network. You’ll get the latest 4G speeds in 4G coverage areas in all the same places as customers who go to Optus direct.

Yomojo plans for your mobile

You can learn more about them and their unique content in our Yomojo review.

CHECK  YOMOJO PLANS

 

OVO Mobile – Free Video & Radio Content

Best Entertainment plans - 2018

Prepaid | 30 day expiry | On the Full Optus 3G and 4G Network 

OVO’s offer a totally new way of looking at a phone company – they’re one of our best selling partners. Their plans are, pretty much on a par for data inclusions with the best in the industry. In addition to talk time, SMS and data, OVO’s plans include exclusive access to exclusive video content. All of OVO’s plans come with ‘OVO Play’ an app which lets you watch their free content on your plan. With OVO, you’ll get:

  • Free Video Content – Motorsport, Sailing, Gymnastics & Water Polo :
    OVO offer a growing list of free video and audio content. Motorsport fans might like the 400 Thunder Professional Drag Racing Series, Australian GT, Formula Drift and other petrol head live streaming. OVO Play also includes other sports like sailing and gymnastics. The price of the content is included in the monthly line rental charge you pay OVO for your prepaid plan. So, importantly: You won’t see your data balance decline while you’re watching them, the streamed content is free.
  • Free Streamed Audio:
    OVO’s plans also offer FREE radio streaming, also included in your plan offers access to the Tripple M network and other selected stations.
  • OVO for Kids:
    OVO’s plans come with the offer of free access to Parental Lock software. Buy your child the $9.95 plan from OVO and you’ll be able to monitor what they access on their phone and set times for it to turn off and turn on it’s own connection to the internet.

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.

You can learn more about them and their unique content in our OVO review.

CHECK  OVO MOBILE SIM PLANS

 

Summing up the next steps in the TPG / Vodafone Merger

The ACCC is right to consider the interests of Australian consumers before signing the deal off. Rod Sims, the head of the ACCC  has also, rightly, pointed out that TPG’s stated goals of mixing the market up, were in the interests of consumers (if they ever existed – see above) should be considered.

Many questions remain. Will the merged company keep both the TPG and Vodafone brands? Each stands for different things. The ‘3’ brand was subsumed in to Vodafone. Will TPG be treated the same?

The danger for Vodafone and TPG is that while the review takes place and the cultural collision occupies the mind of staff at both companies, the real competition in the market, the smaller phone companies servicing the 70% of customers who want cheaper plans will simply leak away.

 

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.