Unlimited data phone plans are here. Yes, that’s right! Australia’s three network carriers, Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, plus smaller provider Felix, have their own phone plans with unlimited data. However ‘unlimited’ is a little bit of a grey area when it comes to phone plans in Australia. These types of plans have been common in the UK and U.S. for a while now – and we’re finally catching up. If you’ve seen them advertised, they all look pretty similar. So what are the differences, what does it actually mean and what’s the catch? See how unlimited mobile data plans stack up below.
What is unlimited mobile data and how does it work?
Unlimited mobile data is what it says on paper — mobile data that is unlimited with no caps on how much data you can use. While unlimited data is available in other countries, it’s still a bit of an anomaly in Australia, only offered by a few telcos and usually with a catch.
The advantage to signing up to an unlimited data plan is that you won’t need to worry about running out of data if you happen to use a fair bit of data or do data-intensive activities on your phone. This also means you won’t have to pay any excess data charges if you go over your data inclusions.
However, before you jump onto an unlimited mobile data plan, these plans do come with a catch, no matter which of the four telcos you sign up with. Before signing up to any phone plan, it’s important to read all the information to ensure you know what you’ll be signing up for with your plan.
Is unlimited data really unlimited?
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has cracked down over what constitutes ‘unlimited’ data, threatening fines for misleading advertisements. The end result is that the big three telcos have removed ‘unlimited’ from its advertising.
The telcos have instead opted for terms like ‘full speed data’, ‘data at no extra cost’ and so on. Vodafone has previously described its plans as ‘endless’ data — avoiding the prickly term ‘unlimited’ altogether – and as of September 2020, has rebranded its plans as offering ‘infinite’ data.
ACCC Chair Rod Sims said that this crackdown has put the three telcos on notice. “With much higher penalties now available for breaches of consumer law, I hope they will take their obligations more seriously. From now on consumer law penalties will seriously affect their bottom line, and we will not hesitate to seek the highest possible penalties.”
Overall, while data could still technically be described as ‘unlimited’, the fact is that after a certain amount of that ‘fast speed’ data, data is typically speed-capped. If you’re interested in one of these phone plans, it’s important to read the Critical Information Summary to know how much full-speed data you’re getting and if there are any further restrictions.
Vodafone is the only provider to offer a truly unlimited phone plan, launching its $85 Ultra+ phone plan in September 2021. This is currently the only provider offering a phone plan with unlimited data with no capped speed across not only the Vodafone 3G and 4G networks, but also the 5G network where available. It does also offer unlimited capped-speed data on its cheaper phone plans.
But, do you really even need unlimited data? Well, we’ve done a full breakdown of how much mobile data you need on a phone plan to help you determine how much data you need and whether an unlimited plan is right for you.
How can I get unlimited data in Australia?
Getting an unlimited data phone plan is easy. Take a look at the different unlimited data mobile plans on offer from the telcos which offer them, compare the plans, prices and the telcos themselves to help you choose which plan is best for your needs. When you compare phone plans, there are a few things to consider:
- Plan price — does it fit your budget?
- How much data do you get — is it purely unlimited or is there an amount of fast-speed data included?
- Unlimited data speed — how fast is the unlimited data speed and does it match your needs?
- Plan type — prepaid or postpaid and which suits you better
- Other inclusions — what are the call and text inclusions plus any entertainment extras or other inclusions you want
- Mobile network — which is your preferred network/will you have network access in your area
Once you’ve decided what you need in your plan and the price range that suits your budget, it’s time to compare unlimited data plans.
Unlimited Data Phone Plans from Telstra, Optus, Vodafone & Felix
All four telcos offer some form of ‘unlimited’ data phone plan, but what are the catches? The biggest ‘catch’ is the fact that speeds are throttled after a certain amount of data use: all Telstra and Optus plans cap unlimited speeds at just 1.5Mbps, while Felix only includes unlimited data (with no fast-speed inclusions) however these speeds are capped at 20Mbps. Vodafone plans are divided into Lite speeds (2Mbps) and Super speeds (10Mbps), plus the Ultra+ plan which includes unlimited data with no capped speed.
|Price per month?||$40-$85||$55-$115||$45-$85||$35|
|Full speed data?||10GB-150GB||40GB-180GB||20GB-240GB||N/A|
|Available to everyone?|
|Month to month contract?|
|Available with a phone?|
|Data-free music streaming?|
|Data-free TV or sport streaming?|
Source: Respective retailer websites, September, 2021.
Telstra Unlimited Data Phone Plans
Telstra offers a ‘unlimited’ capped data on a range of SIM-only postpaid plans along with plans bundled with phones. If you still want unlimited data, and don’t mind a cap on your speed, all of Telstra’s Upfront plans come with no excess data charges, i.e. you’ll get unlimited data capped at 1.5Mbps. This is available alongside your plan’s full-speed data inclusions.
- Other extras include data-free AFLW and Netball streaming.
- You’ll also be able to share data across up to 10 eligible services on the one Telstra account.
With Telstra you get unbridled access to the 4GX network and its maximum speeds for your included data, as well as 5G coverage where available (only on compatible smartphones, and only on Medium, Large, and Extra Large plans). Plans also include unlimited standard national calls and SMS, plus some international call and SMS inclusions. Whether you’re looking for a SIM-only plan or a plan with a phone, you’ll be able to find an option with unlimited data in some form.
The following table shows all published Telstra Upfront plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest. Use our phone plan comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.
Optus Unlimited Data Phone Plans
Optus was the first to drop an unlimited phone plan, called ‘Unleashed’. However, the telco had withdrawn the plan only to offer it again later and then remove it indefinitely. Optus now offers ‘endless data’ and joins Telstra and Vodafone by eliminating excess data charges with ‘unlimited’ capped-speed data on postpaid phone plans.
These postpaid plans are month-to-month and are available as SIM-only or bundled with a new phone (bundling with a phone will lock you into a 12, 24 or 36-month device payment plan). Once you’ve used your plan’s fast-data inclusion, you’ll be able to keep using your data but at the capped-speed of 1.5Mbps. Prices for these Optus postpaid plans start at $45 per month with 20GB of data included and go up to $85 with 240GB of data.
Signing up to any of these postpaid plans with Optus will also include 5G network access at no extra cost — you simply need a 5G-compatible device and 5G coverage. All plans include unlimited standard national talk and text, plus all plans include access to Optus Sport and Fitness. Select plans also include international talk and text, plus roaming, but these inclusions differ from plan to plan.
The following table shows all published Optus postpaid plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.
Vodafone Unlimited Data Phone Plans
Vodafone has come to the game with the only fast-speed unlimited phone plan in Australia, plus an upgrade to its original ‘endless data’ offering with an impressive selection of unlimited Infinite Data phone plans. There are four Infinite data plans to choose from – $40, $45, $55 or $65. With these plans you get either 10GB, 30GB, 60GB or 100GB of full-speed data over the full Vodafone 4G network and the expanding 5G network (if available in your area). Once this data is used up, you’ll have access to unlimited data capped at the following speeds:
- $40 Lite Plan: Lite Infinite data capped at 2Mbps
- $45 Lite+ Plan: Lite Infinite data capped at 2Mbps
- $55 Super Plan: Super Infinite data capped at 10Mbps
- $65 Super+ Plan: Super Infinite data capped at 10Mbps
While 2Mbps is suitable for general browsing and standard definition streaming, 10Mbps should be fast enough for high definition video on the go. These plans are available as both month-to-month SIM-only plans or bundled with a new device. If you choose a plan with a phone, your plan is contract-free — but if you choose to cancel before your device payment term expires, you will need to pay off the remaining cost of your handset. Plans include unlimited standard national calls and SMS, plus some international call and SMS inclusions on all but the $40 plan.
Then there is the only truly unlimited phone plan in Australia — Vodafone’s $85 Ultra+ plan. This is the first time Vodafone has offered unlimited data without speed caps in Australia. You’ll get no limit on how much data you use on 3G, 4G and even 5G networks (if you have 5G coverage). However, if you’re thinking of replacing your home internet with this plan, Vodafone is one step ahead, introducing a 30GB limit on hotspot data, meaning if you hotspot from your phone, you’ll have fast speeds up to 30GB, but then hotspot data will be capped to 2Mbps until your plan resets. This plan also included unlimited standard national calls and SMS and international call inclusions.
The following table shows all Vodafone SIM-only postpaid plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.
Felix unlimited mobile data plans
If you’re looking for a prepaid phone plan with only unlimited data, Felix is the go to. Felix offers only unlimited data on its phone plan, however, that unlimited data is capped at speeds of 20Mbps. The good news is that 20Mbps is typically fast enough for most general usage including web and social media browsing, streaming music and HD video.
You’ll pay $35 per month, and Felix uses a prepaid/subscription model, so you’ll need to pay your $35 in advance and it renews automatically. In addition to your unlimited capped-speed data, you’ll get unlimited standard national calls and SMS included, however if you want international calls and texts to select countries, you’ll need to pay an additional $5 per month. The plan is also month-to-month with no exit fees if you cancel, so you can cancel at any time. Felix also works towards being more environmentally friendly, being a certified carbon neutral telco, powered by 100% renewable electricity, and for every month your plan is active, they’ll plant a tree.
The following table shows the Felix mobile SIM-only prepaid plan on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.
How to get unlimited mobile data free
Unfortunately there is currently no way to get free unlimited mobile data plans in Australia. The only way you might be able to do this is to take advantage of any special offers the telcos might be offering. Sometimes telcos might offer the first month of plan fees for free, however you’ll need to pay for your plan after the offer expires. Felix has run these types of offers from time to time, while the likes of Telstra, Vodafone and Optus sometimes run offers with discounts or bonus fast speed data, so keep an eye out to see if there are any deals currently available.
Can I get unlimited 5G data?
If you want to experience the next level of mobile technology with a 5G phone plan, you’ll be able to get 5G network access on unlimited data plans from Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. All three telcos include 5G network access on postpaid plans (with the exception of Telstra’s $55 Small plan which doesn’t include 5G network access). However since this unlimited data on most these plans is capped at certain speeds, you can’t really enjoy the faster speeds that 5G gives you. Vodafone’s Ultra+ plan is the only plan that will give you unlimited data on the Vodafone 5G network, without any speed caps getting in the way of you enjoying ultra-fast 5G speeds.
What provider has the best ‘unlimited’ data phone plan?
While there are similarities between these plans from all four telcos, there are still a couple of marked differences.
- Vodafone provides the option to access faster ‘unlimited’ speeds on more expensive plans and the only truly unlimited data phone plan.
- Optus offers a bit more data for money at the higher end of its plans (excluding bonus data offers), plus 5G network access is included on all plans and the Optus 5G network is larger than Vodafone’s.
- All big three telcos offer all plans on a month-to-month basis and the option to bundle with a new device (however if you cancel, you’ll still need to pay the remainder of your handset).
- Telstra includes a few more perks than the other two, which could justify the higher price, plus it has the largest 5G network but you’ll need to sign up to the Upfront Medium, Large or Extra Large plans for 5G access.
- Felix is the only provider offering only unlimited data on its plan (but with capped speeds), is certified carbon neutral and will plant a tree for every month your plan is active.
Telstra really shines when it comes to being able to roll your streaming services into your Telstra bill. Vodafone is a great option if you’re travelling overseas with its $5 roaming — $5 per day lets you use your postpaid plan as usual when travelling in select countries. However, this does not include use of your ‘endless’ data, only your limited fast-speed data inclusions will be accessible while roaming (or the 30GB hotspot data in the case of the Ultra+ plan). Optus offers reasonable fast data for your money, especially with the more expensive plans and also includes Optus Sport access on all plans. Felix offers a ‘prepaid’ plan format and includes unlimited data by default at a fast enough speed to handle HD video streaming.
Which carrier’s phone plan is better is totally up to you and what your needs are. Do you value flexibility, peace of mind from truly unlimited data or do you value a host of extra data-free goodies that could see your full-speed data go further? The decision is yours.
Is an unlimited mobile data plan worth it?
It might be tempting to sign up to an unlimited mobile data plan — after all, the more data the better the plan, right? Unless you use a lot of data and frequently, many Aussies might not need an unlimited data plan. Take into consideration how much data you typically use or the sorts of activities you like to do while using mobile data, and then work out how much you actually use.
If you’re already considering a plan from the four providers mentioned in this article, it’s certainly a nice safety net to not have to worry about excess data charges if you happen to run out of data. However, you don’t want to pay more for something you don’t realistically need. If you only use a small amount of data, you might be better off looking at cheap phone plans with data limits.
Ultimately the decision is yours and you will know whether that unlimited data is worth it for you. Consider your budget and data usage needs before comparing a range of plans from different providers to determine which plan — unlimited mobile data or not — will give you the best value for money for your needs.