Picture by another_point_in_time
I've been writing about telecommunications long enough to remember when the mere ability to send texts between different mobile networks was big news, but these days companies have to provide rather more. Optus yesterday launched Turbo Text, a prepaid scheme which lets you send unlimited texts to any five numbers you nominate provided you recharge with at least $30. The numbers don't have to be on Optus' own network, and you can change the selected numbers twice in each recharge period (the credit lasts for 30 days).
This sounds like a reasonable deal, but how does it measure up against similar prepaid plans from other providers when it comes to free texting? A quick hunt around the Internet suggests that it's actually pretty good — free calls to set networks or individuals or common, but free texts aren't. (We're looking exclusively at prepaid deals here, rather than the more complex monthly cap plans.)
Telstra's current prepaid plans include options for free calling to other Telstra phones, but no free text offers. You can send discounted texts (1 cent each, with a maximum of 100 a day), but again these can only be to other customers on the Telstra network.
Vodafone is quite similar, but with one twist: its TXT & Talk Recharge bundles include a set of free texts (100 are included with the $30 bundle). Again, you can make some free calls to other Vodafone subscribers, but free texts aren't on offer. (Similar conditions apply to Crazy John's, which uses the Vodafone network.)
Virgin Mobile uses the Optus network, but doesn't offer any cross-network free texting. However, it does include free texting to other Virgin customers on the vast majority of its plans.
Know about a good prepaid texting deal we haven't discussed here? Share it in the comments.
Lifehacker's weekly Loaded column looks at better ways to manage (and stop worrying about) your money.