How Do You Track The Phone Networks People Use?

Many mobile phone plans offer free calls to other customers on the same network. But just how do you keep track of which network your contacts use?

Picture by Karl Barron

Optus has introduced a special call tone/message for customers using its Dollar Days prepaid plan. If they ring a customer on another network, they hear the tone (you can listen to it here as an MP3). It's an interesting solution, but not an ideal one: if you were only planning to make the call if it was free and you don't hear that message, you'd have to hang up in a rather rude hurry.

Vodafone and 3 offer the Who2Call application to identify other users on those networks, which is handy, though the information is only updated weekly. Another option would be to keep a note on your phone contacts of who uses 'your' network. But in practice, I suspect lots of people take advantage of the free calls with a handful of friends and family, and otherwise treat it as a useful and unexpected bonus.

Which approach do you use to make sure you get the best value from free calling on the same network? Tell us in the comments.


    I'm pretty sure a recent update to the Who2Call app said it uses a live database now....

      There is a disclaimer though...
      "Currently the information we are matching your contacts against can be up to 7 days old. Please be aware of this when viewing who is shown as being on the Vodafone or 3 networks." (v1.3.1)

        Its a good app considering people don't change their network every week.

    In my family, who ever has the cheapest call rate or extra credit to use on the phone, they are the one to make the call. So if its cheaper for my parents to call me and I need to call them, I call them for 2 seconds, hangup, and they call me back - saving money. It's a little inconvenience, but over time, it ads up, especially on pre-paid.

    Another method you can use to see who is on what network is to see what there first 4 mobile phone numbers start with. Each network, telstra, optus, vodafone numbers are in a particular range.
    You can see the list on wikipedia.

    Just be careful, because if they have had the number ported to a different carrier, then that of course will make it incorrect.

      As you say - these days, number prefixes are pretty much useless due to the ease of porting, and the frequency with which people change carriers to take advantage of the competitive market and changing network quality.

    I'd love it if Who2Call integrated into the Contact DB to either add a custom field for Carrier (easiest), or an overlay icon on the contact image (better, more difficult, maybe not possible depending on OS restrictions). Additionally, background sync would be rather useful.

    i use the smsfun number lookup tool which tells me what network a number is with b4 calling. makes it easier so i dont waste credit txting non-telstra pplz :P

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