Telstra has been consolidating its mobile plans for a while now. Today, it took another bold step, with four new contract-free plans set to replace everything else. These new plans, theoretically, simplify things for customers. But do you lose anything by going contract-free? And what are the benefits? Let's take a look.
The new contract-free plans from Telstra are:
- Small: 15GB data for $50 a month
- Medium: 60GB data for $60 a month
- Large: 100GB data for $80 a month
- Extra Large: 150GB data for $100 a month
Click on our interactive table for a full list of inclusions. (Note: the Mobile options also require you to pay off the phone in monthly instalments.)
These prices includes access to 5G until 30 June 2020, unlimited calls and texts and no lock-in. If you blow the data allowance your speed will be slowed to a maximum of 1.5Mbps. (The top two plans will continue to receive free 5G access after 30 June. Small and Large plans will need to pay $15 extra.)
The new plan model is good news if you're happy to jump between carriers to get the best deal or just need a SIM with plenty of data for a short time - like when relatives come to visit from overseas.
Telstra has vastly simplified its mobile business, with all existing plans replaced by four contract-free options. That's right: all 12- and 24-month contract plans are set to be axed, along with smartphone leases. Here's how much the new plans cost, the inclusions you get and what happens to your existing plan.
The big loss in these plans is international calls. Most of Telstra's old plans included international calls to select countries. While for many that may not be a big deal, it is a significant omission for many with relatives overseas.
International Calling and SMS Pack can be added for $10 per month. You can add or remove it at any time and it includes unlimited calls and SMS from Australia to Canada, China, Germany, Guam, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Puerto Rico, Romania, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, US Virgin Islands, USA and UK.
Many of Telstra's old plans also included overseas data roaming allowances. For example, my old plan allowed 1.5GB per month when overseas. And more recent plans offered 2GB per month at way less than what my old plan cost. Now, if you're overseas you can get a $5 per day roaming pack.
The international roaming pack includes 200MB of data to use per day as well as unlimited talk and text. If you go over the 200MB an additional 500MB is added for $10 for use within 31 days. The gotcha here is that the 24 hour periods are based on AEST and not the local time where you are.
If you're a small business and move to one of these plans, then there is one other thing to note. Telstra used to offer $5 SIMs that allowed you to share data from your monthly plan to tablets, laptops and other 4G-enabled devices. If you currently have a $5 data sharing SIM, hang on to it. According to a Telstra spokesperson, if you have one of those $5 data-sharing SIMs you can bring it with to these month-to-month plans but they won't be available for new services.
For comparison, here's what Vodafone Vodafone offers in its month-to-month SIM-only plans.
- $35 per month for 1GB of data ($35.00/GB)
- $45 per month for 5GB of data ($9.00/GB)
- $55 per month for 15GB of data ($3.67/GB)
And here's what Optus throws into the SIM-only plans
- $45 per month for 3GB of data ($15.00/GB)
- $55 per month for 15GB of data ($3.67/GB)
- $65 per month for 35GB of data ($1.86/GB)
- $75 per month for 40GB of data ($1.88/GB)
So, while Telstra isn't bothering with low-cost plans, its costs per GB of data are pretty good. However, Optus does include international call allowances in its SIM-only month-to-month plans while Vodafone does have options for sharing data between devices. It also has a killer deal right now which nets you 100GB for $45:
Telstra's new plans for personal and small business users are extremely competitive when it comes to price. But some features, such as international roaming and data sharing, are now extras. If you've been on an older plan, it's a good time to review your deal.
I reviewed my monthly bill recently. I was on Telstra's most expensive deal before - $195 per month for 40GB of data, unlimited local and overseas calls and text, 1.5GB per month of roaming data and the ability to share my calls and data to several other devices for $5 each. That was, at the time, cheaper than having each device on its own contract. Using Telstra's most recent plans, I've cut that back by over 50%.