Is Optus’s unlimited “unleashed” plan good value?

Alex Kidman 10 April 2018 NEWS

Unlimited mobile data on Optus's new Unleashed plan sounds great, but it's worth keeping the very real limitations in mind.

Optus caused quite a stir in early March when it ever so briefly offered up "Unlimited" mobile plans to select customers, only to withdraw them within a 24-hour period. If you were keen on the idea of a plan with unlimited mobile data, but you missed out on Optus's window of opportunity, it's once again open for "eligible" Optus customers as "unleashed" plans.

However, as it was the last time it was available, Optus's unlimited mobile data plans have what can only be deemed to be, well... limitations.

The fundamentals of the deal are quite simple. A single SIM on a 12-month Optus unlimited data deal with unlimited standard national calls and texts as well as unlimited data usage will run you $60 per month, for a minimum annual cost of $720. Adding an additional SIM to that plan will cost you $50 per month extra on top of that, and you can add a third SIM for just $40 per month on top of the first two SIMs, with additional SIMs costing the same, up to a maximum of five SIMs on one plan.

So far, so good, but while Optus is promising unlimited data, it's not quite letting you loose on its full 4G network. There are some very distinct speed limits in place depending on what you actually do with your SIM. Video streaming speeds are capped at a hard 1.5Mbps, which means you're talking standard definition Netflix only with the distinct likelihood of significant buffering if you're a video-watching fanatic.

Also, you can't use the SIM in a mobile hotspot because it's for smartphone and selected tablet devices only, and it's over and above the streaming video speed brake, Optus also advises that "During congestion, heavy data users may be deprioritised and experience slower speeds."

Or in other words, if the appeal of an unlimited plan is that you wanted to binge watch your favourite shows in 4K, you're going to need to look elsewhere.

It remains to be seen if the ACCC looks unfavourably on Optus's use of the word "unlimited" because previously it's been rather harsh with ISPs that offered "unlimited" telecommunications products that actually had limitations. However, Optus isn't hiding the speed brakes on this particular product to any extent, and that may be why it has proceeded to relaunch the service.

Is Optus's unlimited mobile plan good value?

As always, that's a question that's going to revolve around your precise usage. They're notably speed limited, so if you want fast data, they're probably a bad match for your needs.

That $60 price point in a regular Optus 12-month SIM-only service would currently get you 50GB of data, but it's worth noting that this plan would allow you to stream Netflix, Stan and ABC iview without incurring additional data charges anyway. You're again limited to just standard definition streams, but the rest of that data is yours to do with as quickly as Optus's network will let you.

As such, unless you know you're going to want to use more than 50GB per month and you can put up with potential peak period speed throttling on your service, it's not likely to be ideal for you.

What are my other options?

There are plenty of other SIM-only services available at that $60 price point, with a varying array of data inclusions. Here's the current crop of deals on 12-month contract terms for comparison:

If you're going SIM-only, your other option would be prepaid. Here's what you can get for around $60 per month on a prepaid plan:

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