A Guide to Family Data Sharing

We’ve all been there – running out of mobile data at the most inconvenient moment. It usually happens or when you absolutely must check Twitter, read your emails, or watch the latest episode of your favourite Netflix show on the bus ride home from work. Surely there’s something you can do about it that doesn’t include outrageous excess data charges?

While there are phone plans out there that don’t charge for extra data, they tend to slow your speeds down so much that it’s like extracting teeth. No, you need a better solution than that – those cat videos demand it. With some people’s plan allowances coming up short, and others having data to burn, there seems to be an obvious solution: Why not pool all those resources together and get the ultimate bang for your family buck?

Data-share plans: at a glance

We’ve outlined all the data sharing and pooling features from the major telcos below, but here’s a quick table showing plans from Optus, Telstra and Vodafone that provide data-sharing options. This table may include featured products from referral partners.

Compare Mobile Phone Plans

What is family data sharing?

Family data sharing is when a household can pool separate mobile phone plans together on one bill, and share the collective data. Customers who sign up for multiple postpaid mobile plans with the one billing account can combine all their data inclusions together. Plans like these tend to start at around $30 for each plan and obviously work their way up as you pile in more data.

Think of family data sharing like a mixed lolly bag – there’s something for everyone. This means that if one of the parents doesn’t tend to use much data at all, then one of the kids can use the leftover data from their parents to go towards watching YouTube or uploading to Snapchat.

Is data sharing a good idea?

Data sharing is the ultimate solution to mobile woes for the family unit, but some cooperation will be needed. Overall, some ground rules will need to be laid out and communication set to make sure every member of the scheme is happy and left satisfied with their data inclusions. All families have different data needs, with some people in the house using more than others.

With family data sharing, you can combine all the mobile plans registered to your home on the same bill and make the most of everyone’s total data. This is ideal for families whose data usage needs change frequently, or for parents who want to give their kids access to greater download quotas. Canstar Blue research shows that 35% of young Australians (aged 18-29) on a postpaid plan regularly exceed their data allowance, while just 8% of those in their 50s do likewise. So data sharing is a great concept, but making sure kids aren’t biting off more than they can chew through is also important.

What are the best providers for family data sharing?

If you’ve dreamed of data sharing, now it can be a reality. Optus tells us there are around one million households who would want to sign up for family data sharing. With  Vodafone now offering a similar deal, the number of Aussie families who pool their mobile data will no doubt increase rapidly.

  • Several telcos have finally cottoned on to the idea of data sharing mobile phone plans, including Telstra, Vodafone and Optus.
  • All carriers start their data sharing plans around $30-$55 a month.

To help you out on your quest for a family plan, we’ve checked what’s on offer from the current providers in terms of data sharing.

Optus Data Sharing Plans

The first provider to enable family data sharing was Optus, which offers the benefit on all of its postpaid ‘Choice’ plans. What’s more is that all of these mobile plans already come with unlimited talk and text, making it an even better deal. Keep in mind that postpaid Optus plans offer unlimited, throttled 1.5Mbps data once you surpass your monthly allowance – this feature cannot be shared.

There are no extra costs for the privilege of pooling your data with other plans. You’re also not restricted to only bundling phone plans, as you’re also able to bundle mobile broadband.

Telstra Data Sharing Plans

If you’re a Telstra customer, you can now share data across ten eligible plans as part of the telco’s new Upfront SIM-only plans. These plans are offered on a month-to-month basis and can be paired with a new device, but require you to pay upfront each month via AutoPay.

Data can be shared across both mobile and data-only only plans (including mobile broadband), provided they all belong to the same account holder. You can add or remove plans any time via the My Telstra app.

Vodafone Data Sharing Plans

Vodafone allows you to bundle your plans under a single account, which can be used to pool and share data. Customers can bundle a maximum of 10 services in total: up to five voice plans (including Infinite postpaid plans, plus tablet and mobile broadband services.

It’s worth noting that data on an ‘unlimited’ Infinite or Red Plus plan can’t be shared with other plan types, although included fast data can be shared between Infinite and Plus plans. This means that you could have two Infinite plans bundled together, with your Max Speed data automatically combining into one pool to share; however, any non-unlimited data plans won’t be able to access this pool or use its data. Likewise, Infinite plans can’t share data from non-Infinite plans, including older standard Red plans, plus mobile broadband and tablet plans.

  • You can enjoy Vodafone’s data sharing on both mobile phone plans and mobile broadband SIM plans.
  • There are no extra costs involved in data sharing, but from time to time Vodafone does offer some benefits.
  • Vodafone may offer bundling discounts on each plan, or offer bonus data, but these offers are sporadic.

The main benefit lies in having one, easy-to-manage bill with Vodafone. If you have family members on current plans with Vodafone, you’ll need to transfer ownership to a single account holder in order to bundle your services: this can be done online, over the phone, or at any Vodafone store. So if you’ve got multiple devices spread across the whole family, it makes sense to pay them all off at once.

Is data sharing worth it?

The big three telcos are all competing in terms of data sharing and who offers the best overall value. As it stands, there is no obvious cost benefit to stitching plans together to then share the data around. The only major pros of data sharing are:

  • You get one easy bill for the whole family.
  • Being able to share data, which may prevent some members of the family from going over their caps.
  • Vodafone is the only provider offering plan discounts and data bonuses for pooling data, but these benefits are not permanent.

The last point in particular may save some money, however, Telstra, Vodafone and Optus offer no other financial incentives for giving your money to them for two plans or more, which is rather disappointing. If you’re in charge of paying for the family mobile phone bills every month, it can be more convenient to pool them all together, and this alone may be enough to sway you to data share.

You may also be interested in:

Compare Mobile Plan Providers


Share this article