Are Telstra’s No-Contract BYO Plans Worth It?

Luke over at Gizmodo scooped the news that Telstra is planning to offer no-contract plans for people who bring their own phones from next week, a move its main rival Optus made earlier this month. But just how much more will you pay for not being on a contract with Telstra? We’ve crunched the numbers.

Picture by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

In really simple terms, you’ll end up paying between $10 and $30 a month more for a no-contract BYO plan (branded ‘No Lock-In’ by Telstra) compared to its existing Every Day Connect BYO plans. The pricier the plan, the bigger the gap. Here are the details, based on Telstra’s published plan rates and the figures Gizmodo revealed yesterday, which Telstra has now confirmed:

Plan Call credit # 2-min calls UL Nights UL WE Data AU SMS
$40 No Lock-In $300 126 No No 250MB $0.25
$50 Every Day Connect BYO $600 252 No No 1GB Unlimited
$60 No Lock-In $600 252 No No 1GB Unlimited
$60 Every Day Connect BYO $800 336 Yes No 1.5GB Unlimited
$80 No Lock-In $800 Yes No 1.5GB Unlimited
$80 Every Day Connect BYO $900 378 Yes Yes 2GB Unlimited
$100 No Lock-In $900 378 Yes Yes 2GB Unlimited
$100 Every Day Connect BYO Unlimited 3GB Unlimited
$130 No Lock-In Unlimited 3GB Unlimited

Across these plans, Telstra charges the same call rates: a 40 cent connection fee per call to Australian mobiles or landlines, plus 99 cents a minute or part thereof (so a 2-minute call costs $2.38). Most of the plans included unlimited SMS to Australian numbers. Excess data is $0.10 a megabyte. Telstra is including a 1GB data bonus when it launches these plans, which will run for the life of the plan if you sign up before July 1. Unlimited night calls apply between 7pm and 7am; ‘unlimited WE’ refers to unlimited weekend calls. (We haven’t included Telstra’s plans which have phones bundled in the above table, since that comparison would need to factor in the value of those handsets; that’s a discussion for another time.)

On its site, Telstra lists the contract BYO plans as requiring a 24-month commitment, but in practice you can sign up for 12-month periods. You may also score other discounts if you have landline phone, Internet or pay TV services.

Note than the $40 no-contract plan won’t be advertised and will only be offered to customers as a “last resort”. As Luke at Gizmodo notes, this offer presumably exists to give Telstra some competitive pricing ballast against MVNO rivals such as Kogan and ALDI, which use the older Telstra network but cost considerably less than the Telstra deals. I’d imagine Telstra will be leaning more on its improved 4G network (which isn’t offered through those companies) as a selling point as well.

It’s also worth noting that these deals still cost rather more than the Optus equivalents. On Telstra, $60 a month gets you 1GB of data and $600 in call credit; the same on Optus gets you 2GB of data and unlimited calls. Even though we didn’t find Optus’ plans especially good value compared to cheaper prepaid carriers that also use its network, that’s worth considering if you’re in an area where Optus reception is good.

While Telstra has now officially announced these plans and says they will be on sale from April 23, it’s not yet clear whether the telco will continue to offer a choice of BYO Cap plans, or whether these will replace them altogether. We’re big fans of the flexibility of not being tied into a contract for phones or carriers, but it is worth recognising that you’ll spend more each month to get an equivalent service than you do if you sign up for longer. What works for you will depend on your own circumstances, so choose carefully.

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