3 To Add Internet Downloads To Prepaid Caps

ThreePhone.jpg3 today announced that when it next updates its prepaid capped phone plans, they will include not only the usual fixed amount of voice calls and texts, but also an Internet browsing component. That makes it, in my estimation, the first Australian telco to make browsing on a regular mobile part of its standard set of consumer prepaid cap plans. Several iPhone plans have included a built-in download cap, but not all, and it's rarely a feature on most other mobile plans, with data access being sold either casually or in blocks. The 3 plans aren't uber-generous -- the entry $29 plan includes 150MB of browsing, the top-level $99 plan includes 2GB -- but it at least suggests that mobile browsing may become more common for non-iPhone users, unlike the present reality. Strangely, while the new 3 caps go on sale September 28 (hence no full link yet), no date for when the Internet browsing component will become available has been announced. A spokesperson confirmed they won't be included initially but will be added "late this year", so if that sounds like a tempting offer, you might as well hang onto your current phone and wait until it's a concrete reality.


    Sorry, but I think you've misunderstood their announcement.

    Today 3 announced new PREPAID Caps that will launch from Monday 28 Sep. They work very similarly to 3's postpaid caps, being that a $29 recharge will give you $150 of credit and $160 (200 mins) of free 3 to 3 calls, with a 30 day expiry (though if you recharge before then, the credit rolls over up to a maximum of $3000).

    The credit can be used any way you want - calls, sms, mobile data etc. The data rates are set up such that with the $29 Prepaid Cap recharge you would get 150MB worth if you used your $150 of credit entirely on data. Similarly, if you used all the included credit on a $99 Prepaid Cap for data you'd manage 2GB before you ran out.

    Data services won't actually be available on prepaid until later this year, despite the new Prepaid Caps launching on Monday.

    So just to clarify, this is NOT included data in the postpaid 3 Cap plans. These are new prepaid caps, that allow you to use the included credit for data (but you would be sacrificing credit to use on calls/sms etc in the process).

    While it sounds nice in principle, one of the things I really like about 3's current way of doing things is that you can get a call plan that suits your calling/sms patterns and you then add on a data plan that suits your data usage.

    So if, for example, you make few calls (or few calls to non-3 phones) but do use a fair amount of data you can match the lowest calling plan to a high data plan. Or if you make a lot of calls and use little to no data then you can choose a high calling plan and add in the lowest data plan, or no data at all. That kind of flexibility is really impressive since it accommodates the whole gamut of users and recognises that high usage in one area doesn't necessarily mean high usage in another.

    So while I take no issue with 3 adding a data component to calling caps. I just hope that the option of increasing data usage through an add-on without having increase the fundamental calling plan is retained.

    You're correct about the prepaid aspect of the plans -- should have made that clearer and have fixed accordingly.

    Angus, I don't want to sound pedantic but what I think you're still missing is that the plans don't *include* the amount of data, they give you the option of using your credit for data, such that if you used it all for data and no voice calls or sms, you would manage to get the amounts quote. The way you have it worded still makes it sound like the "included data" is some sort of bonus on top of the caps, when in actual fact it's a tradeoff of how you choose to use your credit.

    Also, at the start you mention "when [Three] next updates its prepaid capped phone plans" though they don't actually have prepaid cap plans at the moment. This is a new service.

    So just to summarise, on Monday Three are launching NEW Prepaid Cap plans, that allow you to use your included credit to pay for calls, SMS, mobile data and other services.

    Again, I don't want to sound pedantic, just wanted to make sure no readers were confused about what was being offered :)

    I'm not sure if this is relevant but the other day, I was recharging my Three Mobile at a service station and the guy accidentally printed me a Vodafone receipt. So he showed me the ePay machine and showed the options. There were 6 options there. I remember there were the usual $30, $50 and $100 recharges and there were three others, a $29, a $99 and another one which I don't remember... Maybe its already out?
    This is a prepaid cap, right? Three doesn't give data to prepay customers so would this cap change that policy?

    I had a browse around the 3 site, and while I like the idea (I'm currently on 3 prepaid), I can't find out what's going to happen to the $8 a month unlimited 3 email pack. Is all email use now going to be included in your data, or will this pack still be available?

    Looks like you are also going to lose your 150 free SMSs per recharge, but the caps seem fairly generous so I can live with that. And what about the 4000 free Skype minutes per month? Are they disappearing too?

    At least 3 have realised that us credit-impaired prepaiders really really want mobile Net access and are prepared to pay for it. I was waiting till next June so I could unlock my phone and switch to Optus' prepaid packs which include "My Data", but now I won't have to.

    Optus has offered mobile browsing and Wireless Internet to it's customers for a number of years. In addition, Optus Pre-Paid Turbocharge and Boost Supercharge plan users been able to use their cap balance to pay for these services. The round of plan changes a few months ago introduced an additional quota for data which can be used on these services.

    Telstra has also offered similar products to their pre-paid customers for a number of years.

    This claim is invalid:

    "That makes it, in my estimation, the first Australian telco to make browsing on a regular mobile part of its standard set of consumer prepaid cap plans."

    As it happens, 3 mobile would be the *last*, not first, of the major brands to offer this.

    I like 3's rates the best, but I hardly rack up a phone bill worth $29 (mainly due to their great rates and the amount of friends I have on 3). If I could use the remaining amount of money not used on calls for Internet data - I'd be one happy guy :)

    3 has upgraded Planet 3, but it still says that mobile web content is not available for prepaid customers, but will be available "late this year". I find this quite frustrating. I also don't understand why web content isn't available to prepaid customers when X-series packs are available. Mind you, I always have problems understanding this stuff.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now