From next month, Telstra will be changing its contract plans. Bottom line: there are some minor improvements, but you can still do much better with a prepaid plan. Here is what the new consumer plans offer (and where they fall short).
Phones picture from Shutterstock
The most obvious good news across all the new plans is that the rates for excess data have been reduced from 10 cents per MB to 3 cents per MB. Telstra also caps the amount you can be charged for excess domestic data at $500. (Roaming data remains much more expensive at $3 per MB, and we can't recommend that option to anyone.) Telstra also caps the amount you can be charged for domestic calls at $130 (its call rate charges haven't changed with the new plans).
Another across-the-board improvement: Telstra is dropping its ridiculous $10 a month charge for being allowed to share your data allowance across multiple phones. The new plans include data sharing as a free option (though you'll still have to pay for additional SIMs).
There are two new groups of plans on offer from 4 March. The Handset plans include a phone, and are only available on a 24-month contract. For all but the very cheapest phone models, you'll generally pay an additional handset charge. The Mobile Accelerate plans can be the BYO option on a month-to-month deal, and are also available in 12 or 24 month contract versions. (We'll touch on why you might choose to do that a little later.)
Across both plans, Telstra offers unlimited calls between 7pm and 7am on weekdays and all day on weekends -- but not on the very cheapest options. We've listed this under 'Free calls' in the table below. Here are the details, including the minimum cost over the life of the contract and the number of 2-minute calls you can make. SMS is unlimited on all plans except the $30 Mobile Accelerate, which charges 25 cents per message.
|Plan||Cost||Contract||Min total||Call credit||Data||Call/60 secs||Flagfall||# 2-min calls||Free calls|
How does this compare to Telstra's current offerings? Right now, you have four basic choices for plans that include a phone (which would compare to the Handset plans listed above):
- $60 a month with 1GB of data and $600 of credit
- $80 a month with 1.5GB of data and $800 of credit
- $100 a month with 2GB of data and $900 of credit
- $130 a month with 3GB of data
In other words: the cheapest plan is a little less but has half the data it used to and lower call credits, the interim plans are a little cheaper but include less call credit, and the top-priced plans are unchanged. So on the whole those deals are worse.
The Mobile Accelerate plans include an unusual option if you sign up for a 24-month contract. If you pay an additional $10 a month, after 12 months you can trade in your existing handset for a new model. If you do that, you'll go onto a new 24-month contract -- and you have to return your existing handset in "good working order". Given the way many phone models hold their value, we strongly suspect that keeping your $120 and selling the phone yourself would provide a better return. (If your phone is damaged, that $10 a month goes right down the drain.)
That's especially the case when you consider that you can do better on a prepaid plan with Telstra anyway. As we've explained in detail before, for $50 a month you can score 3.8GB of data and not be tied to a contract at all. That $45 a month you're saving (compared to the Mobile Accelerate plan with 3GB of data) would go a long way towards paying for your new handset, and keeping you contract-free.