Why mobile plans are nearly 20% cheaper than a year ago

Posted: 11 December 2020 1:53 pm

Mobile prices improve by 17% in 2020 but customer service and wait times suffer.

Mobile plans in 2020 are the cheapest they've ever been, costing 17% less than last year and half as much as 5 years ago, after adjusting for included features. This comes off the back of the ACCC's latest Communications Market Report, which also showed that Australians are eating up this extra data, bumping up total data downloaded by almost 40% across the country (both on mobile and fixed-line NBN).

Thanks to increased competition in the mobile plan space by smaller providers providing great data deals at lower price points, the cost of mobile phone plans has dropped on average by 52.2% across prepaid and postpaid services compared to prices 5 years ago. From the graph below, you can see that the cost of data per GB has fallen dramatically since 2015. The gap in data allowances between prepaid and postpaid plans has also narrowed.

Graph showing the median cost of data per GB from 2015 compared to 2020 where prices have fallen by up to 80%

*Image from the ACCC report.

Besides deciding based on when you prefer paying for your plan (you pay at the start of the month with prepaid, and the end of the month with postpaid), there's virtually no difference in terms of data value between the two types of plans.

Balancing out this increase in mobile value is a drop in customer service, at least in part thanks to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions closing call centres and forcing staff layoffs.

So how can you best take advantage of this sharp drop in price?

Save up to $300 by switching plans

If you've been thinking about changing your mobile plan, this is one of the best times to do it. Providers are offering more and more data for less, meaning you should be able to pick up a well-priced plan with exactly as much data as you want.

Looking beyond the big 3 mobile companies – Telstra, Optus and Vodafone – can lead to some pretty nifty savings. Here's how these bigger companies compare in value to some smaller providers, and how much you could save in a year. We've included a couple of plans with promotional discounts, but discounts that last for a fair amount of time.

Optus vs Circles.Life (100GB) – Save nearly $300

Plan nameLarge Optus ChoiceSIM-only 100GB
Data allowance100GB100GB
Monthly cost$59$38 ($30.40 for first 6 months)
Cost over 12 months$708$410.40 (including 6 months discounted price)

Savings over a year: $297.60 with Circles.Life's 100GB plan.

Vodafone vs amaysim (60GB) – Save nearly $150

Plan namePrepaid Plus $40SIM-only 50GB
Data allowance30GB (+20GB bonus on first 3 recharges)50GB
Monthly cost$40$30 ($9 for first month)
Cost over 12 months$480$339 (including first month discounted price)

Savings over a year: $141 with amaysim's 50GB plan.

Telstra vs iPrimus (40GB) – Save nearly $200

Plan nameSmall SIM-onlySIM-only 40GB
Data allowance40GB40GB
Monthly cost$55$40 ($9 for first month)
Cost over 12 months$660$480 (including first month discounted price)

Savings over a year: $180 with iPrimus's 40GB plan.

As you can see, the smaller companies give consistently better data value, but you'll probably miss out on all the fancy features that Telstra or Optus include with their plans. If you're just looking for a simple plan to make calls/texts and get online, you'll be fine with a smaller provider. But if you like your bonus extras like exclusive sports streaming and 5G access, you'll be happier sticking with the bigger providers.

Remember, it's extremely easy to keep your number when switching plans, so you can take advantage of better value without any fear.

Customer service has suffered

2020 hasn't been all good news, however. Restrictions introduced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have led to the closure of call centres and laying off of customer service staff, leading to more difficult communications and longer wait times.

Nearly 1 in 3 Australians have reported having negative consequences with their telecommunications provider this year, including difficulty accessing financial hardship programs and resolving other issues.

On the whole, though, 2020 has brought better value mobile plans, and we can only hope this trend continues on into 2021.

Looking for a better deal? Compare mobile plans from 40+ providers and save today.

Image: Getty Images

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