Ask LH: Do Any Telcos Offer Shaping On Their Mobile Plans?

Hey Lifehacker, I have friends with two young teenagers (11 and 13) who are screaming for their own mobile phones. The parents are concerned about cost overruns, particularly with data limits. What they are looking for is a plan (preferably pre-paid) that has a “real” data limit. If the use gets to that limit then the connection is either shaped or cut off. No risk of excess data charges and parents don’t have to worry about a surprise bill. Any suggestions? Thanks, Shape I’m In

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Dear SII,

The profit right now for mobile carriers lies directly in their data plans, which means that anyone searching for a plan with no real limits that just keeps on chugging along is by and large out of luck. We’ve not seen a plan for mobiles that offers shaping in Australia, although if anyone knows of any hidden gems they’re welcome to pipe up in the comments.

Which doesn’t mean that there isn’t a solution to hand, because you mention a preference for prepaid plans, and that’s precisely where you can more easily control both spending and data habits. Prepaid plans come with fixed data limits, and usually a small amount of flexible funding (usually the prepaid amount itself) which can be applied to further data usage. Once you’ve burned through all of that, service stops.

Prepaid plans are generally your best bet for teenage use, because they eliminate the bill shock issue while also teaching some important budgeting lessons in a way that connects to what teenagers actually do. If you’re pondering which prepaid plan to go for, check out our recommendations for the best prepaid plan deal from each of the major carriers here.


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