Mobile phone plans are getting bigger and bigger every year – so big in fact that they could even start to replace traditional fixed line internet services in Australian homes.
For many of us, our smartphone is our gateway to internet on the move, but once we return home we simply log back onto our Wi-Fi and save our mobile data for another day. This makes perfect sense of course, but what if you had a mobile phone plan packed with so much data that you no longer needed a standard home broadband service? You could ditch your home phone and internet and save a packet! That’s exactly what customers of a handful of phone providers now have the power to do.
So, what exactly can you get? How does 30GB, 90GB or even 100GB of data a month sound?
Mobile Phone Plans with Big Data
There are four mobile providers that offer more than 30GB of mobile data, plus unlimited calls and texts for less than $80 a month. They are:
Interestingly, all four make use of the Optus network to deliver their mobile phone plans with big data allowances and there are two data allowances on offer – 30GB and 90GB.
30GB Phone Plans
All four providers offer similar plans with 30GB of data all on month to month plans, on a postpaid basis. The cheapest is Jeenee, which is priced at $45 a month, while the others are marginally more expensive.
90GB Phone Plans
While you obviously pay more for the plans with 90GB, you may in fact get better value, as all four providers have plans with 90GB of data for under $80 a month. The cheapest here is SpinTel, which is priced at under $74. However, you will be subject to a $10 upfront fee.
What’s the catch?
If you’re thinking there must be a catch, you’re right, there is. Each of these plans is only available with 3G network coverage, as opposed to the 4G coverage most Australians are now accustomed to. So, you can expect slower internet speeds, but the prospect of having all that data to chew through – and potentially cutting your overall phone and internet costs – could make it a sacrifice worth making.
What if I want 4G data?
That’s fine, but you’ll be expected to pay more. Optus and Telstra lead the way in terms of 4G big data plans, but you will be subject to purchasing a handset phone plan and be locked in for 24 months. If you were shopping around for a new mobile phone anyway, these might be worth the money, but for many the 3G phone plans may be ‘good enough’. With Optus, for example, you’re paying $160 a month for a 100GB phone plan, while with Telstra you’re paying close to $200 a month for over 70GB – over half of which is ‘bonus data’, which could disappear.
Mobile Broadband Alternatives
If you’re more wooed by the data propositions, rather than the call and text propositions, and if you’re using a tablet or mobile dongle, a mobile data plan could be the better option. Jeenee, Exetel and SpinTel all offer mobile broadband deals, with 50GB found for under $60 a month. With this you get a SIM-only plan, able to be plugged directly into your tablet… or mobile phone if you wish.
Alternatively, ‘home wireless’ broadband is growing in popularity, which is basically 4G mobile data within a wireless router. Two providers to lead the charge are Optus and Vivid Wireless. With these two service providers, set-up is super easy, and can be convenient for renters and people who like ultimate flexibility.
Could your phone plan really replace your home internet?
Well, maybe. It all depends on your usage habits and requirements. For example:
- Sending and receiving emails uses minimal data, so this will be fine.
- General web browsing typically uses up 150MB per hour, so a 90GB plan would give you around 600 hours of web surfing. Well, there are only about 720 hours in a month, so that should be fine, too.
- As for social media, scrolling through Facebook uses up roughly the same amount of data as general web browsing, so this should be fine. However, keep in mind that playing videos or uploading photos will quickly change this. Uploading an average image (like one taken from an iPhone) would use around 1.5MB of data.
- When it comes to video streaming, standard definition Netflix will cost you about 1GB of data per hour, so this would quickly add up if you’re planning plan on some serious binge-watching sessions. However, we are talking about up to 90 hours of streaming here – that’s basically four days! Do you really watch Netflix that much?
With all of this in mind, it would seem that most households could get by with 90GB of data per month. But is it cost effective?
So, could you save money with a big data phone plan?
Unlimited home broadband starts from around $60 a month, while phone plans with unlimited talk and text are now routinely available for about $20 a month. That gives you a grand total of… $80 a month!
So, if you decided to replace your home internet service with one of these new 90GB phone plans from Jeenee, Exetel, Moose or SpinTel, you’d probably just break even. However, if you think 30GB a month is enough for your household, you could turn a tidy saving.
Is it worth it? Well, when you consider that you’ll be using 3G coverage rather than 4G – and that you won’t have the safety net of unlimited broadband to fall back on if you need it – the answer is probably no, for now. But this is certainly an interesting development and perhaps a sign of things to come.