Coverage is naturally one of the most important parts of picking a phone plan. If you can’t get reception, you can’t use the service you’re paying for – and that’s just a waste.
Most of us know Telstra has Australia’s widest network, but Optus and Vodafone still have a respectable amount of coverage – more than you might think – even if they’re not quite as strong in rural areas.
Telstra’s 3G and 4G network covers 99.4% of the population, but Optus is right behind at 98.5% of the population, while Vodafone covers 96%. Realistically, this means most of us should be able to get a plan on any of these networks.
For a birds-eye snapshot of how the three networks compare, you can use this interactive map.
Or to easily check coverage in your area, click here and pop in your address when searching for a new phone plan. When you’re on the results page, click See Coverage Map to jump straight to it. Here you’ll be able to compare Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone coverage across 5G, 4G, and 3G networks. Just be aware that this represents outdoor coverage availability, and there may be some difference indoors – especially with 5G.
Of course, there are plenty of smaller providers that also operate on the same networks as the big three, and for the most part, offer the same coverage. So if you’re looking for a new plan, a tiny telco is worth considering – especially because the prices are often smaller too. Just be aware that Telstra and Vodafone have yet to open up their 5G networks to providers on their network, and SpinTel is currently the only Optus network provider with 5G.
Telstra network plans with at least 15GB
If you’re looking at the Telstra network, one of the best value plans around right now comes from Pennytel. You’ll get a $10 discount on your first month and a 10% discount on the life of your plan. This means you’ll pay $12.49 for 18GB for your first month, and $22.49 per month thereafter. This offer runs until June 30.
Telstra’s budget brand Belong is up next at $25 per month for 20GB. You can add on an international calling pack with unlimited talk to around 30 destinations for an extra $5 per month.
MATE has its own $25 plan with an 18GB allowance. Opting for MATE will also score you a bonus subscription to music streaming service Tidal, valued at $11.99 per month. Not a bad way to cut down on expenses. Taking up a MATE mobile plan also gets you a $10 per month discount on any MATE NBN plan.
Woolworths Mobile has a very similar plan, once again offering 18GB for $25 per month. The perk you’ll get is different, however, once per month, you can save 10% on your Woolies grocery shop, up to a maximum value of $50.
Telstra’s own plans start at $30 for a 28-day recharge with 10GB of data. You’ll get a bonus 17GB on your first three recharges if you sign-up before July 5. This gives you a total of 27GB to play with.
Be aware that Boost Mobile is the only Telstra provider with access to the entire Telstra network. Telstra’s 3G and 4G networks reach 99.4% of the population, but the Telstra wholesale network that providers like Belong, ALDI, and Woolworths use only reaches 98.8% of the population. That’s still pretty damn respectable though, and a little ahead of Optus.
Of course, this can affect coverage in some remote, regional, and rural areas. Here’s how the full Telstra network and the Telstra wholesale network compare:
Optus network plans with at least 15GB
Moose Mobile currently has one of the best deals on the Optus network, slinging a 20GB plan for just $16.80 per month. The only catch is the discount only lasts for your first year, after which you’ll pay $23.80 per month. Of course, the plan is contract-free, so you can always jump ship when your savings run out.
If you’re after more data, consider Circles.Life. $22 per month will get you a 50GB plan if you use the promo code 50GBOFFER. Once again, this is a timed discount. After your first year, your plan will revert to $28 per month with a 20GB allowance. The plan is contract-free, however, so you’re free to bail at any time.
The cheapest option from Optus itself is its $30 prepaid recharge with a 28-day expiry. You’ll get 40GB on your first three recharges, but this will drop to 10GB thereafter. Optus’ ‘Epic Data’ prepaid plans do however include a bonus 10GB of streaming data that you can use on Netflix, Stan, and ABC Kids without burning through your day-to-day allowance.
Vodafone network plans with at least 15GB
iiNet is currently killing it when it comes to value on the Vodafone network. You’ll pay just $12.50 per month for your first six months for a 16GB plan. As a comparison, that kind of money would typically only buy you 2GB or so. The price rises to $24.99 per month after your promo period runs out, but the plan is contract-free. Sibling brand Internode has an identical offer, while TPG is doing similar, but you’ll only get the discount for your first three months.
Kogan is currently offering a 45GB SIM-only plan for $25 per month, but you’ll need to commit to a year-long contract to get it. After your first year, the price rises to $40 per month, but you’ll also be free to leave.
Vodafone’s cheapest plan is a $30 28-day prepaid recharge with 15GB. You’ll save $5 per recharge if you opt-in to Automatic Recharge, and if you go over your allowance, you’ll be able to keep using your plan with capped speeds of 1.5Mbps.
Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website.