Virgin Mobile has quickly followed its parent company Optus into the world of consumer 4G, announcing access to 4G networks for customers with suitable phones. Virgin is also offering the 4G version of the Samsung Galaxy S III, which raises the question: given that the network is identical, are you better off buying it through Optus or Virgin?
Like Optus, Virgin is taking pre-orders for the S III and will deliver in late September. The table below shows what you'll pay with each provider
|Provider||Monthly cost||Handset cost||Contract||Total cost||Data|
Virgin looks like very good value on this comparison, especially since its data allocation on comparable price points is double what Optus offers, and data is the key driver for using 4G. All of Optus' sub-$60 price points are bad value in terms of overall cost once you pay handset charges (the $60 plan is only $100 more than the $50 deal over the life of the contract.)
Telstra will also be selling the Galaxy S III from October, but has not announced pricing.
If you're on a contract, you can also bring your own 4G phone to Virgin Mobile (or upgrade your existing handset), provided that it isn't network locked. If you're not in a 4G area (central Sydney, Perth and Newcastle right now, with Melbourne launching on September 15), you'll fall back onto the standard Optus 3G network.
On the mobile broadband front, Virgin Mobile says it will announce specific 4G plans later in the year. (I suspect that if you had a suitable 4G device and were on a contract plan, you'd be able to use the 4G network, but it's not an official option.)
For a full explanation of Optus' 4G network, check out our overview.