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Canstar Blue’s annual review of business phone plan providers compares Vodafone, Optus and Telstra on their customer service, value for money, network coverage, billing, plan flexibility, and overall customer satisfaction.
See our Ratings Methodology.
A business is only as good as its communications. So, when it comes to picking a new phone and plan for your business, you can’t afford to take any chances – the last thing you’ll want is clients hanging up on you! But how do you know which mobile service provider and plan best meets your specific business needs? Canstar Blue’s 2019 review of business phone plans and providers can offer some guidance.
We’ve once again surveyed more than 600 small business owners and key decision-makers across Australia, asking them to rate their mobile phone provider based on factors such as network coverage, plan flexibility, customer service and value for money. We do this to make the decision-making process a little easier the next time you’re shopping around for a new phone deal. So, what did we find?
This year’s highest-rated small business mobile provider is Vodafone, scoring an overall satisfaction rating of five stars. Having shared the top spot with Optus in 2018, Vodafone has this year repeated its five-star satisfaction score, while also achieving five stars for value for money, customer service, billing and plan flexibility. It rated four stars for network coverage.
The three business phone plan providers in Canstar Blue’s 2019 review were compared and rated in the following order for overall satisfaction:
Telstra finished in second place this year, scoring an overall four-star rating, but bringing home five stars for network coverage – the only provider in our 2019 review to do so. Optus finished in third place, scoring four stars for overall satisfaction, with four stars for value for money, plan flexibility and billing. Telstra and Optus both received just three stars for customer service, while Optus also scored just three stars for network coverage.
This year’s survey identified customer service (30%), network coverage (22%) and value for money (21%) as the biggest drivers of satisfaction for business phone customers, with plan flexibility (15%) and billing (11%) less important. Almost two-thirds of respondents (65%) have remained loyal to a single provider, but 63% agree they could probably find a better deal by shopping around.
When asked why they have always been with the same provider, 36% of respondents who have never switched said they wanted to keep their current provider’s network coverage, with another 36% stating that they believe their plan offers good value for money. However, 18% admitted they just don’t have the time to look around for a better deal, while 6% say they are always convinced to stay!
Still, with survey respondents splashing out an average of $128 a month on their business phone plans, it pays to give a little more thought to where you’re spending your company’s money. Taking a quick 20 minutes to look through the deals available to your business could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars (if you pay for several phones) every year – plus make life easier for you and your employees.
Read on to see what the three plan providers in our 2019 review have to offer business customers.
Vodafone offers a range of SIM-only and phone-on-a-plan mobile options for businesses, offering connections for small, medium, and large workplaces. Plans can be bundled to save up to 20% on fees, and businesses with 10 or more connections will receive their own Australian-based Personal Account Manager.
If you’re looking for a phone package, Vodafone’s Red mobile plans begin from $35 per month, and include unlimited standard talk and text in Australia, plus monthly data. For businesses with serious on-the-go data needs, Vodafone’s Red Plus options include unlimited data capped at 1.5Mbps, plus an allocated number of high-speed gigabytes, eliminating unexpected data overages. Prices max out at $65 per month, with selected plans also including international calls.
Vodafone’s selection of business-plan phones includes high-end devices such as the iPhone XR, Pixel 3, Samsung Galaxy S10, and Huawei P30 Pro. All new phones are available on Vodafone’s 12, 24, or 36-month payment plans, with Loyalty Discounts also offered on selected handsets.
For businesses with a BYO phone approach to their mobiles, SIM-only plans are also available, again beginning at $35 per month. These plans are available on a month-to-month or 12-month contract term, with year-long plans generally offering more value in terms of monthly data.
All mobile plans are compatible with Vodafone Passes. These add-ons allow users to stream and/or use their favourite apps without using their plan’s included data, and are priced from $5 per month. If your business requires overseas travel, then Vodafone $5 per day roaming is also activated on all business mobile plans.
Tablet data plans are also available to Vodafone business customers on both a device-on-a-plan and SIM-only basis. Popular tablets, including models by Samsung and Apple, are available on 12, 24, or 36-month payment plans, with data plans beginning at $15 per month.
Coming in second place for business customer satisfaction in 2019, Telstra has traditionally been a go-to provider for those who value a strong and reliable network, particularly in regional areas. The telco giant provides a small business range similar in pricing and value to its personal mobile options, including phone-on-a-plan and SIM-only solutions.
Telstra now offers just four flexible monthly plans, with no lock-in contracts. Prices begin at $50 per month for 15GB of data, up to $100 for 150GB, and all plans include unlimited standard talk and text in Australia. Plans also feature unlimited slowed data capped at 1.5Mbps, in addition to a full-speed data allowance.
These plans can be combined with a variety of handsets, with phones offered on 24 or 36-month repayment periods. Available devices include the Samsung Galaxy Note range (including the Note+ 5G), Samsung Galaxy S10 series, iPhone Xs and XR, and Google Pixel 3, as well as more affordable models. Telstra postpaid plans are also available on a SIM-only basis, again with no lock-in contract and the flexibility to switch options month-to-month.
Telstra offers convenient 24/7 support and account management, and a range of add-on extras to customise your service. Additionally, all mobile plans include free Telstra Air, data-free Apple Music streaming and data-free live sport on all plans, helping you and your employees to unwind after a hard day’s work. For those looking for something bigger, Telstra also has tablets on 24-month and 36-month plans, allowing SMEs access to the 4G network on tablets such as iPads, Samsung Galaxy devices, and the Microsoft Surface Pro.
Telstra also offers Business Grade Data to its business and enterprise customers, designed to keep your mobile network experience consistent during busy peak periods. This enhanced performance is managed by Telstra and aims to maintain a seamless downloading, streaming, or working experience regardless of network congestion.
If you’re looking for a total business package, Telstra also provides a range of hand-picked apps and programs, including Telstra Online Essentials, Office 365, DocuSign, and secure online storage. Each product will incur an additional monthly fee, but may be worth the money if you need specific apps to help run your business.
Optus has a wide range of business mobile phone plans, whether you operate as a sole trader or have a whole workforce behind you. Its plans are available for small, medium and enterprise-size businesses, with phone-on-a-plan and SIM-only postpaid options offered.
Prices will vary depending on the number of employees you need to connect, but Optus’ My Plan Plus two-year phone plans begin at $45 per month (not including any device payments). All plans include unlimited standard talk and text in Australia, plus generous data allowances (up to 200GB monthly gigabytes on the top-tier options). Plans also include data-free Optus Sport and National Geographic, plus a free Apple Music trial of up to 12 months. Customers may also receive unlimited international calls to selected destinations, depending on your plan.
If you’re looking to pair your plan with a new handset, available devices include the Samsung Galaxy S10 and Note 10 range, iPhone XS series, and Google Pixel 3, as well as a variety of more affordable smartphones. All phones are offered on 24-month contracts and are bundled in with your choice of My Plan Plus option.
BYO plans are also available, with Optus’ SIM-only plans beginning at around $39 per month (again, this may vary depending on the size of your business). Plans are offered on both a no-contract basis and on a 12-month term, with year-long plans generally offering better monthly value.
Business customers can also pick up tablets and SIM-only data plans from Optus. Like smartphones, tablets are offered on a two-year contract, with devices from Samsung and Apple available. Optus also offers smartwatches, including the Apple Watch and Galaxy Watch series.
If you operate a business with up to six Optus mobile services, you can use the ‘My Account’ feature to manage phones online, allowing business owners to set up usage alerts, activate their SIM cards, and recharge or pay bills. Larger businesses can work with an Optus business specialist to determine the best mobile solution for their needs.
Choosing a phone plan to suit your business needs can be a challenge. Add into the mix factors like where you’re located, how many staff you have, or how important technology is to your workforce, and sorting through phone plans can seem daunting. But the good news is it’s not only the big three telcos competing for your dollars, but also a growing number of small providers offering good deals and promotions, so you’ll have plenty of choice.
Many small businesses simply set and forget with their current provider, but this may prove a costly mistake in the long-run. Like you would with your personal mobile plan, shopping around is always the key to finding a better deal. With 63% of survey respondents admitting they could probably get a better deal by comparing providers, it seems many businesses know they could be doing better. The only way to do this is to be proactive and compare your options.
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This page was written and is regularly updated by Canstar Blue’s Telco Editor, Tara Donnelly. Having spent over seven years writing for and editing telco comparison websites, she’s an expert in all things phone & internet, including phone plans and how to find the best deal for your family. She loves to highlight the next best phone deals, while also flagging the things you need to be aware of. Tara also acts as a spokesperson for Canstar Blue.
Image credits: Dedy Pramu/Shutterstock.com, Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock.com, Chiociolla/Shutterstock.com
Canstar Blue surveyed 800 Australian small business owners and key decision makers across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group whose business currently pays for a mobile phone plan that is used for business purposes– in this case, 608 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
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*Prices correct as of publication date.