Did you know there is more to the mobile phone plan world than just the ‘Big Three’ – Telstra, Vodafone and Optus? There are, in fact, more than 30 mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) that piggyback off these three networks. The end result is you having a lot more choice and the ability to bag a bargain. So, what tiny telcos piggyback off the Telstra network?
As the largest network in Australia, it’s little wonder a lot of MVNOs want to get on board the Telstra train. The telco giant has the most expansive network in the country, and given its great reception in many rural areas, we tend to believe that claim. Despite some high-profile outages in recent times, Telstra serves several million Aussie customers on “the network without equal”. However, there are several third-party providers which also utilise Telstra’s network services to provide their own mobile phone plans – and in many cases, provide similar or superior value. Most are SIM-only and you have to buy online.
If you’ve been thinking of switching services but love the Telstra coverage, then you might want to consider other providers that use the Telstra network. Read on for our review of the best mobile provider using the Telstra network, or jump straight into our SIM-only comparison tool to find a great deal.
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Mobile Phone Plans on the Telstra Network
There are a handful of operators on the Telstra network, with both prepaid and postpaid bases covered. If you’re having trouble deciphering whether prepaid or postpaid is the way to go, then this article may help. Here are 10 MVNOs that use the Telstra network:
- ALDI Mobile
- Belong Mobile
- Boost Mobile
- C Mobile
- Southern Phone
- Think Mobile
- Woolworths Mobile
It’s important to split them up into prepaid and postpaid designations so you know what you’re in for in regards to payment.
Prepaid Plans on the Telstra Network
Prepaid plans benefit from being on a no lock-in contract by default, with the ability to either auto-recharge or manually recharge as you see fit. There are also no shock bills or extra credit automatically added – you have to do that yourself.
ALDI Mobile offers a comprehensive seven prepaid phone plans – five ‘Value Packs’ and two of the pay as you go (PAYG) variety. First up are the Value Packs, which all have unlimited calls & texts plus data rollover. The Value Packs come named with German astuteness in mind – Small, Large, XL, XXL and Jumbo:
- Small – $15: 1.5GB data
- Large – $25: 4GB data, 100 minutes international calls
- XL – $35: 10GB data, 200 minutes international calls
- XXL – $45: 17GB data plus rollover, 300 minutes international calls
- Jumbo – $55: 22GB data, 400 minutes international calls
These Value plans seem to offer great value for money, especially as you move up into the plans over $25 a month. The Small and Large plans are great for the user who uses relatively little data with no streaming involved. The XL, XXL and Jumbo plans offer even greater value, with healthy data inclusions that are strengthened by data rollover. Don’t use all your data in one month? Not to worry, it’ll be there for you next month. The international call inclusions are also handy, especially if you have loved ones overseas. Our pick would be the XL plan as it offers 10GB for under $40, which is supreme value.
The PAYG plans come on a 365 day expiry, which could be great for people who use their phone rarely, or perhaps those people still driving around with a car phone – remember those?! The PAYG plans come in $15 and $30 iterations.
- Calls are billed at 12c a minute, and international calls from 10c a minute, as well as data from 5c per megabyte.
These are competitive rates, and data is billed by the kilobyte. Overall these humble plans offer some good value. This is how the Value plans line up:
A service provider historically unashamedly marketing towards the younger demographics, Boost Mobile has ‘matured’ a little since the early 2000s into a telco providing great value. It ceased using the Optus network in 2013 and jumped ship to Telstra. Now it is the only MVNO to make full use of the Telstra network – others only use parts of it.
- Boost Mobile offers five basic prepaid plans that are simple to follow.
- The first plan off the rank is one that’s $10 over 7 days. With this plan you get 1GB of standard data, plus unlimited calls and texts.
- Dearer plans also come with varying international calls and texts.
Boost Mobile also includes a couple of other finishing touches on its plans. 1300 numbers are included in the standard calls, while data is billed to the kilobyte, which ensures accurate data charging and bigger browsing potential. Considering these features aren’t regularly found with other operators, this provides the cherry on top. Boost Mobile also gives you the opportunity to pair these plans with some entry-mid level smartphones for maximum convenience. Boost really has all bases covered.
LycaMobile is a little different from other MVNOs in that it focuses heavily on international calling inclusions. Beyond that, however, it still offers plans that are solid value in their own right. LycaMobile has seven plans with 28 day billing periods. All have unlimited calls and texts, and while some are priced the same, the inclusions are different.
- Plans range from $10 to $50, often with massive data bonuses.
- LycaMobile also has generous international calling credit on many of its plans, and is one of the only providers that lets you call interesting countries such as Iraq, Syria and others.
It’s evident that, if you’re an expat, LycaMobile could be for you. It offers solid value, especially to popular countries such as the UK and USA, and if you’re a newcomer to Australia then welcome – LycaMobile could be the carrier for you, as it offers calls home to countries that many other providers simply don’t have a connection to.
Another grocery giant has moved into the mobile market! In the prepaid sector, Woolworths Mobile offers three plans priced at $20, $30, $40 and $50 over 30 days. Woolworths’ fleeting presence in the prepaid space does not discount old Woolies from presenting decent value.
- All plans come with unlimited calls & texts, plus some modicum of international calls.
- The $30, $40 and $50 plans come with unlimited calls to 10 countries, which is a serious bonus, as well as dollar-value allowances to other countries.
- Woolies also lets you bank or rollover data up to 15GB.
These four plans also have some ‘fresh’ bonuses. If you have a Rewards card – let’s face it, most people would have one floating around in their wallet or purse (it’s orange) – you get a further 10 per cent off your recharge. If you recharge before the expiry then your data also rolls over on some plans, up to 15GB.
This list wouldn’t be complete without old Telstra itself. The giant has come up stumps in the prepaid category lately and offers a whopping 15+ plans. Frankly, many of them are so close in inclusions that they barely warrant a mention, but you can expect PAYG plans and a variety of billing periods, anywhere from 28 days to a whole year! With these types of plans, what you see is what you get – $20 usually gets you $20 included value for example, but there is better value to be had in some of the plans with over 1GB of data included.
- Prices are as low as $5, which is held over five days – so $1 a day for unlimited calls & texts and 100mb data.
- However, for more intensive users, 2.5GB data can be found for about $30, while $40 will get you 5GB data and $60 will get you 10GB data
Another bonus is that your data can rollover, and yet another plus is you get unlimited live AFL or NRL games using their respective streaming apps, of which Telstra has a huge share of. Many plans come with free and unlimited Telstra Air data, which lets you use Wi-Fi instead of data across a wide range of locations in Australia, as well as a 200GB cloud subscription. If you’re on the move, then these plans may be for you.
Postpaid plans on the Telstra network
Postpaid users benefit from generally having a lot more range when it comes to plans on the Telstra network. With postpaid, you can automatically top up data and credits so you’re never stuck for too long if you have little credit to call a tow truck if your car dies. However, users will need to look out for hefty excess usage charges.
As a direct Telstra subsidiary, Belong offers a dead-simple approach to its postpaid plans. When purchasing on its website you are presented with a simple plan builder. You choose your call allowances, your data and away you go.
- There are three plans: $10 for 1GB, $25 for 5GB, $40 for 15GB
- You can then opt to sacrifice calls & texts at a discount of $5 a month to effectively make it a mobile broadband SIM
Belong benefits from having monthly plans, instead of 28 or 30-day ones. It is also one of the few to do away with excess data charges; data never runs out – instead, it simply slows down to 64Kbps after your allowance. This is great as it means you can still hang on to data in an emergency, send an instant message, or an email or load Google Maps (albeit slowly).
Do you C what I C? I C some cheap mobile plans from C Mobile on the horizon. C Mobile is a bit different in that it operates on both Telstra and Vodafone, but Shh, this article is about Telstra operators. You can find more about its two-carrier setup here. Overall, C Mobile offers a comprehensive eight mobile plans that use the Telstra network.
- Starting at $16.90 per month, C Mobile’s focus is cheap, no-fuss plans. All come with unlimited calls & texts – you simply pay extra for more data.
- If you want something with a bit more go, $24.90 gets you 1GB plus unlimited calls & texts, with data increasing the more you spend, up to a massive 20GB for $64.90.
It’s apparent that the more you spend the better value you get. However, C Mobile does operate on two networks, so if you want the Telstra network you’ll have to look for the ‘Blue’ plans when shopping around.
Pennytel has had an interesting history, re-releasing phone plans on the Telstra network in early 2018. There are four plans available, all of which come with unlimited calls & texts.
- Plans cost $20, $30, $40 or $50, which yields 2GB, 5Gb, 9GB or 15GB respectively.
- There are no lock-in contracts and SIM cards come with free delivery.
Pennytel prides itself on comprehensive customer service, with service hours on Monday to Friday from 8am to midnight, which is pretty extensive. Weekends also see hours of 9am to 9pm, which is very handy indeed.
A telco with rural customers in mind, Southern Phone gives back to regional councils with a proportion of profits going on to build infrastructure and improve telecommunications. Southern Phone is another dual-carrier operator, with plans on both the Optus and Telstra networks, labelled ‘Green’ and ‘Orange’ plans respectively.
- There are up to seven plans available, starting at $10 a month, all the way up to $100 a month.
- You get the option of either a 12-month or no lock-in contract.
Southern Phone may be for those who want to support those living rurally some way, but compared to other providers in this review, its inclusions are a bit lacklustre on the Telstra network and there is no big increase in overall value when spending over $50. Its Optus network plans may be considered better ‘bang for buck’. Still, Southern Phone only adds to the competition and it is good to see a telco giving back to communities.
A small service provider that offers both SIM-only and handset phone plans, TeleChoice differs from its competitors in a number of ways. Unlike most MVNOs, TeleChoice maintains more than 30 bricks and mortar stores nationwide, and sells plans on not just monthly but 12 or 24 month contracts, providing some long-term benefits which most other providers don’t.
- TeleChoice offers four different plans, each of which is available on a short, medium or long-term deal, with prices ranging from $18 up to $48 per month.
- If you sign up to a 12 or 24 month plan, you can expect a buck to be knocked off your plan per month, or extra data inclusions – or both.
TeleChoice really incentivises sticking around for 12 or 24 months, and there are no set up fees if you order online – going into a physical shop front will attract a $15 set-up fee.
The fresh food people are back again – this time they’ve gone postpaid, of which there are three plans to pick from – Small, Medium and Large.
- Woolies is another provider offering SIM-only 12-month plans, starting at $30, which yields 6GB plus unlimited calls & texts AND 100 international SMS.
- Woolworths is one of the only Telstra network MVNOs to provide high-end smartphones to bundle as well, with the Samsung Galaxy S9 able to be bundled.
Ever thought you could head to Woolies for some bread and milk and walk out with a new phone plan? What a time to be alive!
If you are thinking of getting a new phone plan, Think Mobile is an interesting proposition. It’s based on the Gold Coast in Queensland and is yet another dual-carrier MVNO (the other network being Vodafone), with plans on the Telstra network starting at $24 for a month. This comes in a SIM-only month-to-month format as standard across the board.
- Think Mobile’s Telstra-network plans are 3G-only and cost $24, $30, $40 or $50.
- None include unlimited calls or texts – instead the maximum amount of credit you can get is $800 which is quite high anyway.
- Even the largest plan only includes 3GB data.
Think Mobile’s Vodafone network plans are a little more competitive, so if you’re not set on a network, these other plans may well be worth a look at. In any case, Think Mobile is generally outclassed by other providers mentioned in this review.
A review of postpaid Telstra-network plans wouldn’t be complete without a few words about the old lady herself. Again, Telstra has a comprehensive suite of postpaid plans, with well over 10 plans available.
- The contract plans start at $39 a month, and this gets you $500 value with 2GB data.
- Month-to-month SIM only plans start at $49 for which customers stand to receive $500 value and 2GB data, while $20 extra yields unlimited calls & texts plus 15GB data.
- Telstra is the only provider in this list to offer the iPhone 8 and Google Pixel 2 bundled in with a plan
Telstra may seem expensive, but it is of course the only provider here to offer unbridled access to its own network – others only receive parts of it, or in Boost’s case, do not receive the full 4GX LTE speed range. Telstra also sweetens the deal with things like NRL & AFL game passes, Foxtel Now streaming, Apple Music memberships and many other deals. The more you spend, the more value and extra goodies you generally receive.
What Telstra network provider should I choose?
Choosing one in this large range of providers can be confusing. In the end, it’s all based off what your call, text and data needs are. With more than 60 plans to choose from, chances are there’s a plan on the Telstra network out there for you.
- Telstra may be Australia’s dominant telco provider, but it is by no means the only option if you’re after a great-value plan on the Telstra network.
- From our comparison, it’s clear to see there is great value to be had particularly from the likes of ALDI Mobile, TeleChoice and Woolworths Mobile.
However, all providers have their own perks and shtick. With many plans on offer, chances are there’s one out there waiting for you. If you’re not set on the Telstra network, though, there are many other providers worth a look into on both the Optus and Vodafone networks. Shop around and you might be surprised about what you can find.