Unlimited mobile data from Vodafone and Felix
Statista forecasts indicate that the number of Internet users in Australia will exceed 21.5 million by 2025. That’s over 85 percent of the population. The smartphone penetration rate is also expected to exceed 80 percent by 2025, which suggests that a large proportion of Internet users will rely on their smartphone’s mobile data to go online.
This is hardly a surprise – after all, we’ve seen SIM only plans come with larger and larger data inclusions over the years. But while we’ve also seen SIM plans with unlimited calls and SMS, we haven’t seen a SIM plan with unlimited data in over a decade. This seems odd considering the increasing reliance on smartphone data to access the web in Australia.
Finally, however, we now have real unlimited plans from Vodafone and Felix Mobile, both TPG Telecom subsidiaries. In this article, we’ll tell you all about their unlimited data plans to help you choose which one best suits your needs.
What does unlimited really mean?
Mostly, when people say unlimited, they mean unlimited voice and SMS. And with so many SIM plans in Australia including unlimited calls and text, it’s clear that telcos have been able to capitilise on this belief without having to include unlimited data.
However, back in 2018, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Communications (ACCC) put all three major telcos (Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone) on notice about their “unlimited” claims. The ACCC warned that, “Telecommunications companies should be wary of using absolute claims like ‘unlimited’ where that does not give a true picture to consumers of what is being offered.”
Optus also sued Telstra in the Supreme Court of New South Wales for misleading customers with claims of “unlimited”. The court agreed that Telstra’s used of the word “unlimited” was misleading and deceptive under Australian Consumer Law.
Both of those moves made it clear that “unlimited” had to refer to unlimited data, and all three major telcos stopped advertising unlimited call/text plans as truly unlimited.
Some telcos did go ahead and launch “unlimited” data plans, but after taking a closer look, they aren’t really unlimited. Such plans typically throttle the data speeds to around 1.5Mbps (or more, in some cases) when the plan’s included data runs out. Telstra, Vodafone, and Optus still offer such plans, but after a month living on 1.5Mbps, we found that throttled speeds can really limit your smartphone usage experience, especially when streaming.
Now though, Felix and Vodafone seem to have met the truly unlimited standard.
How do Felix and Vodafone’s unlimited plans differ?
Vodafone and Felix have both launched unlimited mobile data SIM plans, making them the only real ‘Unlimited Plan’ providers in Australia at the moment. As we mentioned, we’ve had unlimited plans before, but it’s been over a decade since we’ve had real unlimited mobile data plans.
After the TPG and Vodafone merger was approved last year, they launched Felix Mobile – a fully digital sub brand that offer a single prepaid SIM only plan that includes unlimited mobile data using the Vodafone 4G network.
Vodafone also launched their Ultra+ SIM only plan recently – a postpaid month-to-month plan which includes unlimited high speed 5G data.
While both plans include unlimited data, here are their key differences:
- High speed data
Felix Mobile offer just one SIM plan and it includes unlimited data. However, that unlimited data is capped at 20Mbps download speeds, meaning you can never exceed those speeds while on their plan. Vodafone, on the other hand, offer high speed unlimited data throughout your billing cycle on their Ultra+ plan.
- 4G vs 5G
Felix Mobile resells Vodafone’s 4G network, and there is no sign of that changing anytime soon – after all, it is difficult to assume that a plan with a 20Mbps speed cap will ever use 5G networks which are all about very fast download speeds. Vodafone, however, are rolling out their 5G network in Australia, and their Ultra+ plan provides unlimited data on that 5G network wherever there is coverage.
- Postpaid vs prepaid
Felix Mobile’s unlimited data plan is a prepaid SIM only plan, which means you have to pay for it before you can use it. Vodafone’s Ultra+ plan, on the other hand, is a postpaid SIM only plan, so you only pay for inclusions at the end of your billing cycle.
- International inclusions
Both Felix and Vodafone’s unlimited data plans include unlimited standard national calls and text. However, only Vodafone’s includes unlimited standard International calls to select countries, and an additional 300 minutes to some other countries. Felix do offer an option for this, but it comes at an additional cost – a $5 add on will give you unlimited calls and text to 40 select countries.
Felix Mobile offer their unlimited data plan for just $35 per month, making it a great choice for those looking for a cheap plan with no data overages. Vodafone’s Ultra+ plan is more expensive – $65 per month if you remain on the plan continuously (not SIM only) based on the current promo which expires on 11 November 2021, or the normal price of $85 per month for SIM only customers.
Who else offers unlimited plans?
As we’ve covered, there are plenty of unlimited voice and SMS plans but no other truly unlimited mobile data plans besides the two we’ve covered in this article. The telco industry has avoided saying unlimited ‘everything’ (i.e. unlimited voice, SMS, and data) because, if they do, they are effectively setting a maximum revenue for the industry. In such a scenario, the plan level they assign to such an unlimited plan would be the maximum they could charge, forever.
What follows that is essentially a race to the bottom in which different phone companies undercut each other, reducing that industry maximum. But with Vodafone and Felix Mobile releasing unlimited data plans, it will be interesting to see just how other telcos will follow.
For now, however, the closest thing to “unlimited” data plans besides Vodafone Ultra+ and Felix, are throttled data plans. Such plans slow your speed down after you’ve used up included data, but they help keep you from incurring data overage charges.
Optus offer “Endless Data”, which throttles your download speeds to 1.5Mbps when you exhaust your plan’s data inclusion. Customers on Optus Choice Plus, Optus Choice Plus Data, Optus Plus Family, Optus Plus Kids Plan or Optus Choice Direct Debit plan already have endless data activated. Other plans may already opt you into Endless Data as well.
Telstra offer “Peace of Mind” data, which also caps speeds at 1.5Mbps when you exhaust you plan data. All Telstra postpaid month-to-month SIM only plans offer Peace of Mind data.
Vodafone offer “Infinite Data”, which caps download speeds to anywhere from 2Mbps to 10Mbps after you’ve exhausted your plan data. The throttled speed range depends on the plan you choose – the more expensive it is, the higher your throttled speed. Vodafone offer four plans with Infinite Data.
There are so many different types of phone users. One way to split the group is to consider how much a particular phone user knows about phone plans.
A small number of people know a lot – they might be tech heads, work in the technology or IT industry, or may have even (like me) worked for a phone company over the years. Such consumers might want one of these unlimited plans because they’re affordable, and early adopters could make full use of them downloading hundreds of GB of data each month.
On the other hand, most people don’t know how much mobile data they use in a month. For those people, an unlimited plan means they will operate without surprises and they have one less thing to worry about each month.