If you had to pick a single word to describe Telstra, it would probably be “expensive”. Big T might often be considered Australia’s best mobile network, but you’re certainly paying for it.
There are however plenty of smaller telcos powered by the Telstra network; some who you'll be familiar with, some who you won't. These providers tend to offer the same basic service as Telstra, but often at a cheaper price.
So, if you’re after Telstra network access without breaking the bank, here's a look at who's who.
Belong is quite literally budget Telstra. Telstra operates Belong as its discount brand, undercutting its mainline plans and products. Belong data allowances don't go quite as high as what Telstra offers, topping out at 30GB, but there are plenty of little bonuses that make Belong a great Telstra alternative.
Our favourite Belong plan right now is its $40 offer. $40 per month gets you 30GB, as well as unlimited international talk and text to over 30 selected countries. Belong plans all come with data rollover, which means you can save any unused data for a later date. If you manage to build up a stash, you can always drop down to Belong's $10 plan until you burn through your data bank.
All Belong's plans are contract-free. Here's the whole range:
Boost Mobile is unique when it comes to Telstra powered providers. Unlike every other MVNO on this list, Boost is the only one with access to the entire Telstra network. While Telstra's full network reaches 99.4% of the Australian population, the Telstra wholesale network that powers the likes of Belong, ALDI Mobile, Woolworths Mobile only reaches 98.8% of the population.
The difference doesn’t sound huge, but it affects coverage in some remote, regional, and rural areas. Here's how the regular Telstra network and the Telstra wholesale network compare:
Our pick of Boost plan is the telco’s $30 recharge. Your money gets you 20GB, plus a bonus 15GB on your first three recharges if you sign up before February 17. These are 28-day recharges, however, so you will need to top up 13 times per year.
Here is Boost Mobile's current 28-day recharge range:
The fresh food people probably aren't who comes to mind when you're thinking of phones, but Woolworths Mobile has made a name for itself thanks to great value plans.
In fact, Woolies is the only provider other than Big T that sells new phones on a plan on the Telstra network, making it a solid choice if you want a device without paying too much of a premium.
Woolworths Mobile has a smaller range of phones than most providers, but sells most OPPO and Samsung devices. Here's a look at some of the more popular phones the telco has available:
Woolworths Mobile also has a solid range of SIM only plans including features like data rollover. We like the 40GB for $40 per month plan, but here is the full range:
Woolworths isn't the only supermarket MVNO powered by the Telstra network. ALDI Mobile has a whole host of Telstra powered prepaid plans, sold on a 30-day expiry. The plans themselves are fairly no frills, but spending at least $25 per month nets you unlimited talk and text to 15 countries, and at least 100 minutes for another 35. In fact, $25 is the sweet spot on ALDI, getting you 18GB of data and unlimited talk and text.
All ALDI Mobile prepaid plans also include data rollover.
Here are ALDI Mobile's current 30-day recharges:
numobile is a newer Telstra powered provider with a twist: it exclusively sells second-hand smartphones paired with some pretty decent plans. All phones sold through numobile are put through multiple stages of testing to ensure all functionality still works.
numobile's plan pricing is made of up components: a core plan fee, and a handset repayment fee based on the device's outright price, divided by 24 months. numobile's plans are contract-free on the basis that if you want to leave early, you can simply pay out the remaining value of your smartphone.
In addition, numobile will let your return or swap out your phone at any time, even if it's damaged. If your phone is in roughly the same condition as you got it, you won't have to pay any fees. If your phone is slightly damaged (if it has a cracked screen, for example), you'll pay out 20% of your remaining handset repayment balance. If the phone is significantly damaged, you'll need to pay 40% of your outstanding balance.
Here are a few of the phones available on numobile:
Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia's phone and internet comparison website.