iPhone pricing: Choosing the best Telstra plan

iPhone3G.jpgAs last telco off the rank to release its full iPhone pricing, you'd think Telstra might have had a few surprises up its sleeve. Unfortunately, it's no surprise that its deals turn out to be the worst value of the lot, reflecting its commitment to charging a premium for access to its Next G network. Click after the jump for our analysis of the available Telstra options.

Telstra didn't officially launch full plan details until Friday morning, but leaked plans turned out to be pretty much on the money. While Telstra offers free data access in its Wi-Fi hotspot network, which is the most extensive in Australia, there's a trade-off: its plans essentially almost no browsing at all. Instead, Telstra encourages users to purchase browsing packs for data access. These range from $5 a month for 5MB of downloads (with extra downloads at $1.00/MB) through to $119MB a month for 3GB (with extra downloads charged at $0.25MB). Note that this is in addition to the 24-month call plan you'll have to sign up for regardless of what options you select. If you don't purchase a browsing pack and just want access the network casually, data rates are a whopping $2 per megabyte.
Hardware and voice prices are more in line with what Telstra's rival carriers are charging. Its cheapest plan is $30 a month, though this only includes $25 in calls charged at high rates and requires you to pay $279 up front for the 8GB phone. To score the iPhone for no up-front charge, you'll need to commit to the $80 plan for the 8GB model, or a $100+ plan for the 16GB. If you're a heavy talker or texter, Telstra plans range right up to $350 a month. No prices for unlocking phones have been announced.
Telstra arguably deserves some credit for being the only carrier to offer a plan with more than 1GB of downloads. However, at $119 (plus whatever your monthly call plan is), this is still massively expensive, especially when compared to non-iPhone wireless broadband packages like Vodafone's $39/5Gb plan. Add in the priciest voice plan and you could easily spend $500 a month.
The bottom line? If you're in an area where NextG is the only realistic network option, then you might be stuck with paying these prices. But for anyone with a choice (think most metropolitan areas), there are much better deals to be had from Vodafone and Optus — especially if you intend to use the data services on the iPhone. (And really, if you don't, what are you spending all that money for?)


Comments

    Ah Telstra. More uncompetitive pricing from the nation-screwing carrier. When is Conroy and his successors going to realise that to introduce real competition into the telecommunications space Telstra needs to be split and shaken up.
    The company simply doesn't care about its customers (and presumably shareholders since the share price has been stuck in the $4.30-$5.00 orbit for well over a year now) and charges what can only be characterised as rent-seeking prices.
    It's not good for its customers, it's not good for its shareholders and it's not good for the country. When will the government see past the fear and stupidity of the argument that you need a behemoth to provide service to the bush?

    this is a joke right?

    @Ribbo My comment or the plans?

    Commented at the same time, the plans I mean

    Nice to see SingTel leading the way with Optus though

    For the first time in a long time . I still can't get over how Telstra (followed by all the other telcos) put up flagfall and 30-second block charges a while back.
    Telecommunications must be the only technology-based consumer item that has actually increased over time. Amazing, especially in the context of the rest of the world.

    NOAM, Splitting Telstra is not the answer for more competition - we don't need two Telstras - what we need is more competition. How about you go to your bank and tell them your plan to start your own 'competitive carrier' and see if they'll give you the money as an investment. There is no money to made with the current rules.
    We don't have competition because this stuff is expensive. btw - the queue for these things stretched into the night, Telstra be sold out of a product that will cost some lucky owners $2400 just to look at it! Then there is the cost of data while they demonstrate how cool they are to their friends - some people will spend $500 a month - and you think that that is not good for shareholders?

    @David Nightingale

    I agree that we need more competition but no-one but no-one who has a commercial bone in their body will compete against Telstra unless they are backed by an overseas telco (as all major comeptitors currently are) or they are backed by someone with very deep pockets. Telstra is so large and has such lobbying power with government that even when the previous government was looking into supporting regional competitors using a number of different technologies the government caved and changed the rules thereby making it uneconomic to compete with Telstra.
    So whilst you are correct in stating that there is no money to be made with the current rules it is very difficult to change the rules when Telstra is continually challenging those rules in the Federal Court. Clearly it believes that spending thousands of dollars a day is more beneficial than allowing any change to the landscape which may disadvantage it.
    What stuff is expensive? If you mean to say data is expensive on the plans and therefore will add to revenue and profit which will be distributed to shareholders and therefore is good for them well that is true in terms of dividends but false when it comes to the share price. Everyone knows that this is rent-seeking at its worst. Data is not expensive in and of itself. Witness everyone else's data plans using wireless broadband. The carriers are cashing in on the iPhone cache and Telstra is the worst as usual. I might add that we deserve this abuse given that Rogers a large Canadian telco tried this on and whilst it wasn't proven that Apple threatened to withold stock until a more sensible plan was released, Rogers felt it necessary to release a special offer open until 31 August which provides for a very generous 6 gig of data on a $30 plan. Before the claim is made that Australia is a lot bigger than Canada and therefore Telstra has to recoup the cost of maintaining all that infrastructure, Canada is quite large and has its own sparsely populated areas. About the only relevant difference is that it has a much larger population but surely that can't account for the difference between a $30 plan allowing 6 gig of data versus $149 for 1 gig?

    Data is expensive. Even when it is in and of itself. Try this; send an SMS from your own 3G network, not simply from your phone on some carrier's mobile network and not from your chosen ISP's network. Your network. The network that you build "to introduce real competition into the telecommunications space". Your own 3G network - it doesn't even have to have coverage to >95% of the population - a local area of your choice will do. When you have done that, please tell me what it cost you. Data is expensive.

    We have three carriers, soon four, that all have exactly the same product. The only difference is the payment plan. The market will tell each carrier what plan has the best 'perceived value for money'.

    btw - When the share price stays low and the dividend increases the shareholder has an increased earnings ratio. That is generally seen as 'good'.

    @ David Nightingale

    Data itself is not expensive, the infrastructure needed to carry it is expensive to build. That's been done already and is used by various of the carrier's products - mobile broadband, data blocks attached to mobile phones and now the iPhone. No doubt other methods of access will be devised in future. Now once a company covers its costs in manufacturing an item it turns its attention to profits. How much is enough? Normally the market would decide. The consumer would be able to go elsewhere if the product was too expensive. Tell me, how are you going to go elsewhere when all the carriers charge rent-seeking prices? Maybe the ACCC will come to the rescue? See my earlier comments about Telstra resisting litigation. Telstra and the other carriers are simply ripping the public off.
    As for the increased earnings ratio. Great for the self-funded retirees, not so great for everyone else.

    Two dollars a Mb ? Things must have changed in "The world of Sol" After receiving a new Nokia 6120 last year and not reading the fine print ( silly me ) I foolishly sent a 6Mb email, cost $90 yes that's right $15 a Mb so unless things have dramatically changed I would read the fine print again. Although the $60 200Mb browser pack was ok for normal browsing and the odd Video free email,it is of coarse totally useless when it comes to what I really need/want which is video.In all fairness though I must say that NextG is rather good, it has no problems streaming live Tv from Germany and elsewhere,I could stream DVB-T and Austar/Foxtel from my computer.But while people are prepared to pay totally outrageous costs for a two minute replay clip of a football game that happened a week ago I guess things will not be changing any time soon, in the meantime I shall live without,wait for my contract to expire and then go WIRELESS.On a slightly disturbing note I did notice that some European telcos have realised that wireless will be a problem for them before to long and have made an attempt to disable WiFi on handsets they sell. The battle continues !

    We live in an economic world of supply and demand. If people were not prepaired to pay for data at those prices then the prices would come down. So to all the people that complain about the pricing that still are using the services are contributing to the problem of high pricing.

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