What is a shared data plan?

Three generation technologyAccording to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), nearly 70% of Australian adults use three or more different devices to connect to the internet, and one in every two adult Australians use a tablet. Multiply those devices across several family members and you suddenly have a whole lot of data being used in many and varied ways. Enter data sharing.

Launched only last year, data sharing plans are relatively new in Australia.  If you have a bunch of different devices you want to be able to use on the go, or if you’re looking to share a single plan within your family, these new offering might be just the thing.

Data sharing plans are quite simple really – all the devices you connect to the plan share the same pool of mobile data, no matter where they are.  Say for instance that you have a phone and a tablet, and a 1GB a month data plan.  With a data sharing plan, both can be connect to the mobile network without you having to hunt down a Wi-Fi network or mess about with tethering.

Earlier in 2015, Vodafone launched Australia’s first share everything plan, for up to 10 devices. Vodafone Shared is allows families to share everything that’s included across all plans on just one bill, including calls, TXT, data, access to $5 Roaming, Data WorkOut and 300 international calling minutes -across up to 10 devices. Loo Fun Chee, Chief Marketing Officer at Vodafone said she believed Australian families and households will welcome an inclusive Shared plan.

“Vodafone Shared delivers simple and straightforward value for households with smartphones and tablets. As everything included is sharable, families can take full advantage to ensure you are getting maximum use of all your inclusions. And best of all, unlike others, there is no fee to activate sharing.”

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Often, however, you do have to pay for the privilege, and the price can vary based on your provider.  At the moment, Telstra, Optus and the aforementioned Vodafone all offer data sharing plans, at different price points, but the basic idea is the same.  To purchase a data sharing plan you need to have a mobile plan with the provider of your choice.  Then you can add on a data sharing sim for as many other phones or tablets as you wish, with a set fee for each addition.

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A side benefit of data sharing is that most options avoid hugely burdensome excess data charges, instead automatically billing you $10 for each 1GB block you go over.  This can still add up if you or your family are particularly data-hungry, but it is can be cheaper than the excess fees for all the separate devices combined.

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