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What is considered average usage?
If you’re not a chatterbox and have moderate data needs for sending emails and streaming media, then you can be considered an average mobile user. There are many different plans that can offer you just what you need in terms of data, texts and call minutes at affordable prices, ensuring that you don’t pay for more than you need.
The problem with assuming "average" use is that in Australia the usage patterns are trending upwards for data usage, while many plans even at "average" prices offer unlimited text and call provisions. As such, data is the clear indicator of relative plan value at this point in time.
According to the most recent figures from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the average Australian mobile user got through around 650MB per month, but those figures relate to usage up to mid-2014. With the explosive growth of streaming services such as Spotify and Netflix, the real world figure now is likely to be higher.
We've chosen a baseline of 2GB of data usage along with a mid-range calls and texts package as our starting point, but there's nothing that can compare with having a good understanding of your own usage patterns, especially if you plan to sign up for a contract plan.
Contract or prepaid?
Higher end users will often do better on a contract because the data provisions on high-end contracts are usually better value, but in the more mid-range space there is a lot of room for flexibility when it comes to choosing plans.
If you already own a handset you're happy with, the savings of going on a prepaid plan, or possibly a month by month postpaid plan along with the flexibility to change providers as needed can have appeal. You are slightly more at the whim of providers in terms of plans available to you, which can change quickly, although it's relatively unusual in such a competitive market for plans to offer worse value over time.
A contract plan does give you certainty, and can be beneficial if you can't wear the cost of buying a new handset upfront. In the average plan space you'll typically pay a higher monthly handset cost than on higher use plans, however.
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