In the dark old days of mobile phone plans, you’d reach the end of your monthly plan cycle and your unused data would disappear without even the consolation of a theatrical puff of smoke. It didn’t matter whether you’d used all of your data or none of it – you’d be back to square one, with all data usage being equal in the eyes of the telcos.
Nowadays however, with our data usage increasing exponentially, there’s a growing trend amongst – and considerable pressure upon – the mobile service providers to offer a little inclusion known as ‘data rollover’, and the majority have now adopted it as a standard feature.
If we didn’t know better, we’d say they’re actually trying to be helpful for once… But hey, who are we to be snide? For those who might be out of the loop, here’s a guide to data rollover – the handy little feature that’s bringing relief to phone users across the state.
What is data rollover?
As you may have figured out (aren’t you clever), data rollover is a service which allows you to make use of unused data from the previous month by having it, you guessed it, rolled over and lumped in with your data for the current month. It seems like a rather commonsense thing to do, but since when did telcos deal in common sense? And why did it take so long for them to become ‘helpful’ anyway?
Data rollover is understandably pretty popular, as it gives you significantly more value for money – especially if you’re a heavy data user. So where do the various major telcos stand on data rollover? We had a look to find out.
A quick note about plans
As you may know, there are three main ways to get yourself some mobile data – a prepaid phone plan, a post-paid phone plan (often referred to as a contract), or a mobile data plan. Providers tend to offer rollover for some plan types but not others, and this can sometimes get confusing. Generally speaking, more service providers tend to offer it on prepaid rather than post-paid.
Australia’s largest mobile plan provider offers credit rollover for all of its prepaid plans – this includes call and text credit as well as data. The only catch is that you need to recharge before the 28 day credit period ends, otherwise your unused inclusions will expire. Telstra also offers data rollover for its prepaid mobile broadband offerings, but customers on phone plans are out of luck – Telstra doesn’t offer rollover on any of its post-paid phone plans.
Similarly to Telstra, Optus lets you roll over up to 10GB of unused data on your prepaid phone plan if you recharge before your expiry date. The same goes for its prepaid mobile broadband, except in this case you can roll over up to a whopping 50GB. Unfortunately Optus also doesn’t offer rollover on post-paid plans, but you are able to change your plan whenever you like if you find yourself using consistently less data than you’re paying for.
Virgin Mobile is a bit of an exception when it comes to rolling over unused plan inclusions, letting you keep your excess data going into the next billing period on all new phone and mobile broadband plans – prepaid and post-paid. Virgin goes even further towards pleasing data-happy customers by charging in KB increments, rather than per MBs like many other providers. This means that if all you do in a browsing session is check your email, then your data use will be rounded to the nearest KB rather than up to the nearest MB – a significant saving in the long run.
Vodafone offers data rollover up to 50GB on its prepaid mobile broadband services, but unfortunately doesn’t do so on any of its mobile phone plans. Not as yet, anyway.
Is data rollover a good thing?
There aren’t many negatives when it comes to data rollover – who doesn’t want to get the most value from their mobile plans? But a small word of warning – make sure you check the conditions and restrictions that apply to your particular plan. Among other specifications, it may be the case that you can only roll over your unused data once and not every month, for example.