Optus has updated its mobile plans today, including a new option to share data from your main plan with other devices without paying an ongoing extra fee. Does that make sense? Planhacker investigates.
Tablet picture from Shutterstock
Telstra launched data sharing plans last October, but they had one big disadvantage: you had to pay $10 per month for every extra device connected. Under those circumstances, it seemed simpler to simply tether a device to your existing phone. (That might change when Telstra introduces the option to share your home data allowance with your phone via Wi-Fi later this year, but details on that option are still vague.)
Optus' new My Plan Plus deals (which it has been hinting at for almost a year) don't incorporate an ongoing charge for extra data, but do require a $5 one-off set-up fee for each extra SIM that you add to the main plan. You can add up to five extra devices on a contract -- though if you did that and used all the devices regularly, you'd chew through data pretty quickly.
The option is available on both 24-month contract plans and month-to-month SIM-only plans. It will go on sale from 10 June. If you're an existing Optus contract customer, you can upgrade to a new plan without changing your contract (we reported earlier that you'd need to sign a new contract, but Optus now tells us that's not the case).
While the sharing option is interesting, to our minds the increase in data and call minutes across the plans is arguably more useful for most customers. The data offerings are considerably more generous across all plans, which is a healthy trend after several years of most carriers trimming their data allowances.
Here's a table showing what was offered on the old and new plans. (Optus quotes call time in minutes rather than a certain amount of call credit; while this is more transparent, it doesn't necessarily represent better value -- that depends on your usage patterns.)
Pricing has stayed the same for contract plans, while SIM-only prices vary; the two cheaper plans have gone up by $5, but the top plan is slightly cheaper than it was.
|Monthly cost||Type||Old minutes||Old data (MB)||New minutes||New data (MB)|
The plans continue Optus' existing arrangement of offering an extra 1GB for $10 if you go over your limit. Whether this is a money-saver is questionable -- if you only exceed your allowance by 50MB, you'll still end up paying $10.
The added data on these deals makes them more appealing, and the cheaper approach to sharing also gives Optus an edge on Telstra. For all that, we still think you're often better off using a prepaid plan and avoiding being tied down.