Have multiple Optus plans and want to share data between them? That's now easier than ever with Optus' "data pool" feature. Here's what you need to know.
Data sharing allows you to group the data from multiple mobile plans into one large bucket that can be accessed across different devices (think smartphones, tablets and Wi-Fi hotspots). Those devices can be used by different people, too, so if Dad's a relatively light data user but the kids are addicted to mobile YouTube, they can each use as much or as little data as they need from the combined data pool and potentially avoid excess data charges. Similarly, if you have a SIM for your iPad but don't always use up the data, you could use that data on your phone as well.
Optus introduced "family sharing" plans in April 2015, but those were somewhat more limited in scope and you had to pay a one-off $5 fee for each device that you added. Since then, the data sharing model has been simplified, and you can now share data across any eligible plans and devices – whether that's between multiple family members or across your own gadget collection.
Here's how it works. Any Optus My Plan Plus, My Plan Flex or My Mobile Broadband Plus plans that are on a single bill will automatically have their data allowances combined into a single "data pool". That applies both to contract plans and SIM-only month to month plans. If you exceed the data allowance on your own device Plan and there is still data left in the pool, you'll use that. If the pool runs out, you'll pay $10 for an extra 1GB of data, which is added automatically. There is no charge for adding devices to the pool – they simply have to be on the same bill.
Note that this only works if you're on the plan types mentioned. If you're signed up to an older Optus plan or a prepaid plan, you'll have to switch to a newer contract plan to take advantage of Optus data sharing. If you're on a contract plan from several years back, you may well have to sign up for a new contract to qualify (though ask nicely on the phone or online and you might score a less onerous deal.)
Also note that this only applies to mobile data – sadly, you can't share unlimited broadband from your home ADSL, cable or NBN with your mobile devices.
Dropping the $5 sign-up fee makes Optus much more competitive with Vodafone, which already doesn't charge any sign-up fee for its family plan. Vodafone does require the "master" account to be a on a 24-month contract, however, which isn't a condition Optus imposes. Telstra's Go Mobile sharing plans charge $5 a month – easily the most expensive sharing option out there right now.
Curious how Optus stacks up against the competition? See how its Samsung Galaxy S9 plans compare below: