Best MVNO plans on the Telstra Network

Alex Kidman 22 June 2017 NEWS

If you want Telstra's coverage without the cost, there are great ways to save with an MVNO on the Telstra network.

It's widely accepted that Telstra's mobile network is the best in the country in terms of speed and coverage, but that benefit comes with a cost. Telstra charges premium rates for its network, and that can directly affect your wallet. However, you don't have to simply settle for paying Telstra's rates if all you want is access to the network, thanks to the wide variety of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) that use parts of Telstra's 4G and 3G networks.

Using a Telstra MVNO can be a great way to save serious money, although in most cases, you'll need to already own the handset you want to use on the network. Some Telstra MVNOs, most notably Woolworths Mobile, do offer contract phones on 24-month contracts.

What's the catch with a Telstra MVNO?

You can save some serious money by using a Telstra MVNO, but it's not a direct 1:1 comparison to Telstra's range of services. At a technical level, Telstra doesn't offer full access to its "4GX" network to its MVNO partners. Instead, they sell access to "parts of Telstra's 4G and 3G network". What that means in practical terms is that you're only accessing 4G speeds at best, with a top ceiling of 200Mbps presuming your handset is compatible with that speed. The practical upshot for most users is that you shouldn't worry too much about these speeds unless you have very particular needs.

The other small catch is that the wholesale network that Telstra sells to MVNOs uses a marginally smaller coverage map than the full Telstra 4GX network. This is most apparent at the very far reaches of the network in more remote regional areas. If you're in a regional centre or the suburbs of any Australian city the majority of the time, you should be just fine with the smaller footprint.

The other aspect that you'd miss out on not being a direct Telstra customer are the extra bonuses that Telstra adds to its plans, such as data-free streaming of Apple Music, access to its Telstra Air network and free access and streaming to AFL, NRL and Netball games live on your mobile device for customers spending over $30 per month on their mobile plans.

Current Telstra Network Providers

Best Telstra MVNO plans with at least 3GB of data

The reality is that there's no one "best" plan for everybody because we all use our phones in different ways and different situations. For Telstra MVNOs, the sweet spot for getting the most out of that coverage with the minimum of pain in your wallet is arguably in plans with moderate data usage.

If you're looking to save money with a Telstra MVNO, data is the key criteria to compare. Most mobile providers will offer unlimited standard national calls and texts for relatively little money, but in the smartphone age, data is king.

The key reason to opt for a Telstra MVNO is to save money, and that generally means that you're eschewing other bonuses, although some MVNOs do offer them. Boost Mobile, for example, offers data-free streaming of Apple Music on its plans, the same as Telstra.

We've preselected plans with up to 3GB per recharge across both contract and prepaid plans because that should hit a sweet spot with enough data for most average uses to compare. As always, if you're looking for more details or for specifics on a handset plan, you can check out our full mobile plan finder. We've also included Telstra's own best offer in this space because if you're going to properly compare the plans, it's worth knowing what you can get on the full network.


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