You might think of iiNet and its Internode subsidiary primarily as internet service providers, but both have also updated their mobile phone offerings in recent days. We've analysed what's in their new plans and compared them to other offerings on the market.
Internode has revamped its NodeMobile plans, and now offers three month-to-month options: Starter ($10 per month), Value ($20 per month) and Premium ($40 per month). You have to pay a $10 fee to get a SIM. The service uses Optus' network.
The Starter plan includes $165 of credit and 200MB of data, the Value option has $450 of credit and 1.5GB of data, and the Premium plan has 3GB of data and $750 of credit. Value and Premium also include credit you can use to call other NodeMobile customers only ($1000 and $1500 respectively). In addition to the basic data allowance, all plans include 150GB of data for Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIns
Across all plans, calls are charged at $0.90 per minute plus a $0.35 flag fall. Unusually, charges are calculated based on 30 second units (or part thereof), a model most other carriers have abandoned in favour of per-minute calling. Text messages in Australia cost 25 cents each. Excess data is charged at 20 cents per megabyte. Those prices are all fairly unremarkable -- not exceptionally cheap but not massively overpriced either.
The soon-to-be-introduced Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code requires providers to specify how many 2-minute calls to standard numbers could be made on each plan. With calls costing $2.15 each for that period, that works out to 76 2-minute calls on the Starter plan, 209 on the Value plan, and 348 on the Premium plan.
A few key things to note. Firstly, NodeMobile is only available to Internode customers; you can't sign up for it as a standalone service. Secondly, the inclusion of 150GB per month for use with social networking services isn't quite as compelling as it sounds, since Optus (and companies that resell services using its networks) offers 'unlimited' access to those services in anyway. You'd have to work very hard to get through 150GB of social networking via web sites on your mobile in any case, and I suspect that represents the same 'reasonable usage' limit other providers would enforce.
Is it worth it? LiveConnected offers even cheaper plans on the Optus network, but charges calls per minute, has much higher excess data rates, and has attracted some criticism for its support model. Amasyim's $20 plan gives you more calls as it has a lower rate, and its $40 offering has unlimited calling to Australian numbers and a more generous data allowance. Any of those choices could make more sense, even if you're already an Internode customer.
In most respects, iiNet's plans are identical to those offered by Internode. It has $10, $20 and $40 plans that are identically priced, and with the same inclusions and conditions (right down to the odd '150GB of social networking' offer). The key differences:
- iiNet also offers handset subsidies on a range of Samsung Galaxy phones (the SII, the SIII, the Note and the Ace) if you're prepared to sign up to a 24-month contract.
- There's a $60 plan which has unlimited calls (but still only includes 3GB of data). That seems expensive compared to similar offers from Amaysim, Boost and LiveConnected.
- The SIM fee is $25 rather than $10.
Bundling services is an increasingly common tactic in communications. Providers like it because the more services you have with the company, the less likely you are to switch. Bundles can represent a good value offering, but you need to assess them carefully; you often pay extra for the convenience of a single bill.