In this day and age, what is fast becoming the most important and most utilised feature of any mobile plan is the data package. As our handsets and the apps that run on them continue to become ever more complex, the requirement for accessing larger amounts of data seems to run in parallel.
I read an interesting statistic from the research institute Lonergan the other day, who found in a recent study that 86% of Australians believe that they could save at least 15% on their mobile bills by switching to more optimised plans - but they simply can’t be bothered to do so.
Well, no more excuses if you're looking to save your monthly bills or avoid those extra charges that you've been paying for exceeding your mobile plan's monthly data limits. In this post I've done most of the research already to assist all you heavy data users out there in finding a more suitable plan at the most competitive rate.
As a general rule, pre-paid mobile plans tend offer far better value than their post-paid counterparts, both in terms of calls as well as the amount of data included. When looking at the various a data packages you'll have the option of choosing between 3G or 4G networks, although you'll want to make sure that you check the relevant telco's coverage in your area. MVNO's (Mobile Virtual Network Operators - i.e. operators who do not own their own networks but instead resell services from the main carriers) such as VAYA, Amaysim and Yatango generally offer the most competitive rates but you should be aware of which network they're piggy-backing off to know about any coverage limitations.
I’ve read numerous complaints across several forums by people expressing their frustration at the speed of data transfers not living up to their expectations. One point in particularly that often gets mentioned around this is that generally Optus’ 4G network is regarded as being even slower than Telstra’s 3G connectivity. Something to bear in mind. That's the great thing about opting for a pre-paid plan though, as you can try it out for month and see if the coverage/data speeds in your area are up to scratch without any long term commitments.
Another thing to be aware of is companies who bill per megabyte (MB). By this I mean where each data session which you initiate getting charged by rounding up to the nearest MB. This approach often leads to data usage results being many times higher than the actual data you have downloaded. So I would definitely recommend finding a plan which charges on a per kilobyte (KB) basis where applicable.
You'll find though that these variances can even exist between plans from the same company. For example, Telstra’s "Cap Encore" pre-paid plan is billed per KB, while both their "Like" or "Simplicity" plans are billed per MB. In fact, the plans which are charged per KB offer great value because in reality what happens is that your data usage is rounded up to the nearest cent, where 1 cent = 100KB. What this means is that smaller data sessions of 49KB or less are free.
Here is a detailed table from Whirlpool’s forum where all providers' charges broken down to calls, SMS, and data costs of their plan.
VAYA - 10GB DATA PLAN
VAYA seems to offer the lowest prices on the market at the moment. Their service runs on Optus’ 4G network and for $55 a month you’ll get a very generous 10GB data. The only thing you’ll need to be aware of, is that if you do want to cancel your line, disconnecting it will carry a fee of $30. To avoid paying this charge, you can port your number to another telco.
AMAYSIM vs YATANGO
With both Amaysim and Yatango you can get their pre-paid 10GB packages for $99 a month, which is almost double VAYA’s current offer. Also, all of these MVNO's run on Optus’ 3G and 4G network as well so it's not like you'll be getting better coverage and reception by paying more at Amaysim or Yatango. However, these two providers do appear to be more flexible (with more competitive rates) than VAYA when it comes to creating a plan that is better suited to heavier users of voice and SMS's.
For example, right now Amaysim has a 40% off offer on the first month of their UNLIMITED plan which includes unlimited calls and SMS's within Australia as well as a respectable 4GB data limit. In effect, you'll be paying just $23.94 for the first month after which it goes up to $39.90 monthly. And being pre-paid you can stop at any time should you wish to.
If you want to be on Telstra’s super-quick 4G network, you’ll have to dig deep into your pockets as you’ll only be getting 3GB of data each month on their pre-paid $100 "Cap Encore" plan. I would advise though, if you're not a big voice and SMS user, that you choose the $30 Cap Encore offer and then combine this with Telstra's plus packs to get yourself an additional 4GB for $59. This means that for $89/month you're getting almost 4.5GB of data to use on the fastest network available. Ultimately, lightning-fast access will come at a hefty premium if this is a priority for you.
Hopefully this research helps kick-start your search for a more suitable and cost-effective mobile plan. But if you have anything else to share with the Buckscoop community related to this topic, your comments are very welcome.
As always, if you're looking to save even more money then visit the Buckscoop Vouchers page to look for relevant coupon, voucher and promo codes across the various mobile operators out there.