Vodafone Opens 5G to MVNOs

Vodafone opens 5G to MVNOs

Lebara, iiNet, Kogan, and TPG now have 5G plans.

Vodafone is the latest Australian telco to announce 5G access for MVNOs, kicking off a 3-month 5G trial for select Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO). Customers who want a 5G plan can now trial the fifth generation mobile network on select plans from the following Vodafone MVNOs:

  • Lebara
  • Kogan
  • TPG, and
  • iiNet 

Just two years ago, Australians could only purchase mobile 5G plans from the three major telcos – Telstra, Optus, and TPG Telecom (Vodafone). The landscape has changed since then, with Optus and Telstra announcing 5G access for their MVNOs and Vodafone following suit.

This is excellent news for Australians who want value in a phone plan. MVNOs are known for their cheap phone plans, which usually offer the same network as the major telcos. However, adding 5G offers to the mix could give MVNO customers even more value.

This article will discuss Vodafone’s 5G trial for MVNOs and the alternatives in this article. Read on to find out.

The lure of MVNOs

First, let’s talk about why people love MVNOs. These small phone companies resell the major telcos’ networks at cheaper rates. So if you’re looking for a plan without the heavy bells and whistles like entertainment inclusions, an MVNO plan is a great place to start. 

In most cases, MVNOs offer SIM plans with basic inclusions – talk, text, and data. Some offer International inclusions as well, while others might provide such add-ons at extra costs. 

While MVNOs generally offer basic plans, some offer extra inclusions like data banking and rollovers. And because over 30 MVNOs are reselling Australia’s major mobile networks, they have to compete rigorously, which results in affordable phone plans that can help you save money

Vodafone launches free 5G trial for MVNOs.

Not long ago, you could only get a 5G plan from either Telstra, Optus, or TPG Telecom (Vodafone). Now, all three major telcos have opened up 5G access to MVNOs in one form or another.

The latest telco to do so is Vodafone. The telco began its 5G trial for MVNOs on 20 July, to be concluded on 26 October if it isn’t extended.

The best part is that eligible customers on Vodafone MVNOs don’t have to pay extra for 5G – the 5G trial is free.

However, Vodafone’s 5G trial is only available to four MVNOs, namely Kogan, TPG, Lebara, and iiNet. Further, the 5G trial is also limited to select plans – not all phone plans. 

Here’s a closer look at the plans and price ranges of each Vodafone MVNO that is trialing 5G:

 KoganTPGLebaraiiNet
Number of 5G plans52102
Price rangeFour 365-day long-expiry plans ranging from $270 to $300;One 12-month plan at $40 per month.Monthly plans from $30 to $40.Three 30-day plans from $29.90 to $69.90;Two 90-day plans from $80 to $105;Two 180-day plans from $140 to $180;Two 360-day plans from $250 to $300.Monthly plans from $29.99 to $39.99.

If you have a 5G phone and one of the SIM plans listed above, you already have access to 5G free of charge. 

Keep in mind, however, that Vodafone’s 5G coverage has to be available in your area before you can access 5G on any of the MVNO plans we’ve listed. If you’re in an urban area, you probably have Vodafone 5G coverage. The telco’s 5G network now covers 85 percent of the population across ten major cities thanks to their new 5G Stand Alone (SA) core that tripled their coverage.

Optus and Telstra have also opened 5G to their MVNOs.

Over 30 MVNOs in Australia are currently reselling the major telcos’ mobile networks. This means you have a lot of options when choosing a phone plan. For example, not too long ago, MVNOs couldn’t offer 5G plans because the major telcos had restricted access. Today, however, all three major telcos have opened their 5G networks to MVNOs, giving customers a competitive 5G market with several options.

Vodafone is the latest telco to announce that some of its MVNOs offer 5G plans. Both Optus and Telstra MVNOs had made similar announcements before that. Here’s a look at the MVNOs that have access to Optus’ and Telstra’s 5G networks.

  • Optus 
    Just a year after Australia’s 5G launch, Optus’ MVNOs were granted access to 5G in some form. However, Spintel, Southern Phone, and Aussie Broadband are the only MVNOs currently offering 5G plans on the Optus network.
  • Telstra
     In May of this year, Telstra announced its plan to open up 5G to MVNOs. In July, the telco made good on its promise, with Boost Mobile, Woolworths Mobile, and ALDI Mobile being the first MVNOs to resell Telstra’s 5G Wholesale Network.

Final words – My 5G experience so far

First, ask yourself this question: Do you need 5G? I was one of the first to buy and use a 5G phone, so I paid through the nose for it. However, the statistics say that most Australians now have a 5G-enabled phone, just like me, and I wonder if their experience has been the same as mine. 

5G made no difference to my life other than running the battery down a bit faster on my Galaxy S10 5G. That’s it. I could not tell the difference between 5G and 4G from a user experience point of view. 

Apps may eventually come along to employ 5G technology in a way that will startle us and change the world, but they’re just not here yet. And, while it seems like blasphemy to suggest it – because we all love new technology – maybe a 4G plan will do you just as well as a 5G plan, even when purchased from a cheaper MVNO like these Vodafone network resellers.

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.