Telstra is Australia’s largest mobile provider, with a variety of contract, prepaid or SIM-only plans to suit practically everybody.
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Telstra is Australia's largest mobile carrier on a number of levels. It has the largest number of mobile phone customers, as well as the network with the broadest reach over our wide brown landscape, making it especially the network of choice in more remote and regional areas.
While at one time it was the government communications monopoly, deliberate deregulation in the 1990s opened up the landscape for competitor brands to flourish, especially in the rapidly evolving mobile telephony space.
Still, Telstra has kept pace and often outpaced its competitors with offerings that rest on the carrier's reputation as a high-tech premium network. That has meant that Telstra has often been ahead of the curve in terms of technology, with the first Category 16 network deployments in Australia. However, with the 5G future looming, it's hardly resting on its laurels.
Telstra is of course more than just a mobile phone provider, with a wide range of telecommunications services for consumer broadband, fixed line telephony and business services. As well, it has entertainment offerings such as Telstra TV and its streaming exclusive rights for sports such as AFL, NRL and Australian Netball.
Telstra Mobile Contract plans
For many Australians, a mobile plan is one that comes with a handset, and Telstra has no shortage of handsets you can pick from. The latest and greatest handsets nearly always land at the carrier as soon as they're available in Australia.
Notably, Telstra has been the carrier of choice for Google and its in-house Pixel phones for the past couple of years, including 2017's Google Pixel 2 and Google Pixel 2 XL. But it's not just an Android house, with Apple's popular iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus also available.
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However, it's not just the high-end premium space that Telstra serves with handsets. It has a number of lower-cost and rather specific phones on its books as well, including its own branded handsets such as the Tough Max or Telstra Signature 2. These are simpler handsets for those who only need the basics and don't want to spend extra on features they may not use or desire.
All of Telstra's mobile plans operate off sized plans that offer unlimited national talk and texts plus a data quota, with frequent sign-up specials. You pay a differing amount of handset repayments relative to your phone of choice, but the baseline plans remain the same.
- Go Mobile Plus S: Unlimited calls and texts, 2GB of data, $59
- Go Mobile Plus M: Unlimited calls and texts, 5GB of data, $79
- Go Mobile Plus L: Unlimited calls and texts, 12GB of data, $99
- Go Mobile Plus XL: Unlimited calls and texts, 25GB of data, $129
- Go Mobile Plus XXL: Unlimited calls and texts, 50GB of data, $149
- Go Mobile Plus XL: Unlimited calls and texts, 100GB of data, $199
If you're signing up for a Telstra Go Mobile Plus plan, you can often score bonus data for the life of your contract plan above those figures.
Telstra also offers the ability to lease your handset rather than buy it on contract. These Go Mobile Swap plans mirror the inclusions of the Go Mobile Plus plans but typically offer around a $10 monthly discount to your total plan price. If you're very careful with your phone this is worth considering for the saving, but bear in mind that at the end of your 24-month term, you do have to give the handset back. At some higher-priced tiers there's no saving at all on a Go Mobile Swap plan, so compare carefully.
The total price you pay for a Telstra Go Mobile Plus plan varies, depending on the type of handset you select. More premium-end handsets attract higher repayment prices, although that also varies depending on your monthly plan pricing. Conversely, if you opt for a simpler handset, you may incur low or no handset repayment costs at all.
For comparison, here's Telstra's current plan pricing on the top-end 256GB Apple iPhone X:
And then for the considerably less expensive Telstra Tough Max 2 handset:
Telstra SIM-only mobile plans
If all you want is access to Telstra's mobile network and you don't require a new or replacement handset, then a Telstra SIM-only plan may be a better fit.
Telstra's postpaid SIM-only plans are sold on rolling month-to-month or 12 month terms, with slightly different pricing and inclusions depending on whether you're happy with an annual contract or not.
Typically speaking, the month-to-month Go Mobile Plus Casual plans are priced as follows:
- Go Mobile Plus Casual S: Unlimited calls and texts, 2GB of data, typically $49
- Go Mobile Plus Casual M: Unlimited calls and texts, 15GB of data, typically $69
- Go Mobile Plus Casual L: Unlimited calls and texts, 20GB of data, typically $89
- Go Mobile Plus Casual XL: Unlimited calls and texts, 30GB of data, typically $109
It's not unheard of for Telstra to offer bonus deals on its casual SIM plans, but it's noticeably more frequent for its 12 month Go Mobile Plus BYO plans:
- Go Mobile Plus BYO S: Unlimited calls and texts, 2GB of data, typically $39
- Go Mobile Plus BYO MX: Unlimited calls and texts, 15GB of data, typically $49
- Go Mobile Plus BYO M: Unlimited calls and texts, 15GB of data, typically $59
- Go Mobile Plus BYO L: Unlimited calls and texts, 20GB of data, typically $79
- Go Mobile Plus BYO XL: Unlimited calls and texts, 30GB of data, typically $99
Of note in the Go Mobile Plus BYO range are Telstra's MX plans, which offer a discount on your monthly payment as long as you're content with self-service for any issue online only. All other plans offer in-store and telephone support if you hit issues.
Here's the current full pricing and details for Telstra's Go Mobile Plus BYO plans
Telstra Mobile prepaid plans
Prepaid plans can make a lot of sense if you're on a constrained budget, or if you simply want to control the level of your mobile spend. Rather than a postpaid plan, where you're billed at the end of each billing month for your usage, prepaid plans are paid upfront, and you can only use as much as you've paid for. In the current mobile climate that's often a question of data usage more than anything else, although plan inclusions can vary.
Telstra's long legacy in the Australian mobile space means that it has offered more mobile plan variants than just about any other carrier. One interesting aspect of its mobile offerings is that even when it does discontinue a plan, if you're still on it with credit, you can typically stay on that plan as long as you keep recharging. Of course, this isn't always your best option, with ever-increasing data inclusions and other bonuses making newer plans quite attractive.
Telstra currently offers four different prepaid plan options, under the titles of Pre-Paid Extra, Day2Day, Simplicity and Long Life.
Pre-Paid Extra is Telstra's primary prepaid offering, and it's the one that most closely mimics its Go Mobile SIM plans in terms of inclusions. All of the Pre-Paid Extra plans have 28 days expiry and include unlimited calls and texts to standard Australian numbers.
- Telstra Pre-Paid Extra $30: Unlimited calls and texts, 2.5GB of data $30
- Telstra Pre-Paid Extra $40: Unlimited calls and texts, 5GB of data, $40
- Telstra Pre-Paid Extra $50: Unlimited calls and texts, 7.5GB of data, $50
- Telstra Pre-Paid Extra $60: Unlimited calls and texts, 10GB of data, $60
At higher pricing tiers, Telstra also provides unlimited international calls to select destinations, as well as international calling credit to spend on dialling other locations. Telstra's Pre-Paid Extra plans all qualify for free access to Telstra's nationwide Wi-Fi network, as well as data rollover of up to 50GB if you recharge before your expiry period is up.
While Pre-Paid Extra is Telstra's hero product for prepaid customers, it's not the only option. Telstra's Day2Day offer charges a flat $1 per day for unlimited calls and texts as well as 100MB of data, with an optional 100MB of extra data for a further dollar, or unlimited calls to selected international destinations for that day for another additional dollar.
Expiry on Day2Day varies from 5 days to up to 60 days depending on recharge and usage. They're simple plans that are best suited for very short-term travellers, because any usage of your phone will trigger that $1 daily charge, no matter how small. Over a month, you'd be better off with the Pre-Paid Extra deal, but for shorter periods they're simple and convenient.
Telstra's Simplicity plans sell themselves on flat-rate pricing.You pay a set recharge fee, which determines your credit expiry period:
- Telstra Simplicity $20: 15c/min to Australian numbers, 12c SMS, 10c/MB, 30 day expiry
- Telstra Simplicity $30: 15c/min to Australian numbers, 12c SMS, 10c/MB, 60 day expiry
- Telstra Simplicity $50: 15c/min to Australian numbers, 12c SMS, 10c/MB, 90 day expiry
- Telstra Simplicity $100: 15c/min to Australian numbers, 12c SMS, 10c/MB, 180 day expiry
For those who want a prepaid service with long expiry and simple inclusions, Telstra also offers its Long Life plans, which do very much what you'd expect with a name like that!
- Telstra Long Life $20: 39c flagfall + 78c/min to Australian numbers, 29c SMS, $2/MB, 60 day expiry
- Telstra Long Life $30: 39c flagfall + 78c/min to Australian numbers, 29c SMS, $2/MB, 180 day expiry
- Telstra Long Life $40: 39c flagfall + 78c/min to Australian numbers, 29c SMS, $2/MB, 180 day expiry
- Telstra Long Life $50: 39c flagfall + 78c/min to Australian numbers, 29c SMS, $2/MB, 180 day expiry
- Telstra Long Life $70: 39c flagfall + 78c/min to Australian numbers, 29c SMS, $2/MB, 365 day expiry
- Telstra Long Life $100: 39c flagfall + 78c/min to Australian numbers, 29c SMS, $2/MB, 365 day expiry
Here's how all of Telstra's current prepaid offers and deals compare:
How does Telstra Mobile compare?
Telstra's market positioning is one of being a premium provider, with premium services and pricing to match. That means in a straight line comparison, it's often just a touch more expensive than its direct competitors, Vodafone and Optus, in matters such as contract plans.
Telstra's positioning on this is that additional features such as free streaming of AFL, NRL and Netball, plus access to the Telstra Air network, give its plans additional value above its competitors.
So on a handset level, for example, here's how Telstra compares for the Apple iPhone X on a 24-month contract:
In the prepaid space, Telstra again pitches itself on the quality of its network, although if that's all you're keen on, you could consider any of the existing mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) who use Telstra's wholesale 4G network. You don't quite get the full Telstra speed, but it can be a good way to save. Here's how Telstra's prepaid plans compare against prepaid offerings on the Telstra network from Woolworths Mobile, Boost Mobile and ALDImobile:
Why should you consider Telstra Mobile?
For many Australians, Telstra represents a trusted and known brand in the mobile space with a premium pedigree for service quality. It has the widest overall footprint of any mobile 4G or 3G provider, and while that's not 100% of the Australian landmass, it's still much larger and wider than its competitors if you do travel to the more remote corners of our country.
Telstra charges a premium price, but it backs that up with a lot of extra features.
Telstra's network has long led in terms of coverage, but it's also typically the fastest network in the country for overall speeds, with many metropolitan areas and selected regional centres now updated to speeds of Category 16 and above. Telstra's ambitions for 5G networks are aggressive, as it doesn't want to give up its lead on its rivals in terms of speed.
For most of Telstra's postpaid and prepaid plans, you get access to the Telstra Air network of free public Wi-Fi hotspots. You can find out more about Telstra Air here, but it's also worth considering for international travellers as, in addition, it grants you access to the Fon network of Wi-Fi hotspots globally.
If sports is your love, Telstra can be a great choice, with many plans giving you free access to AFL, NRL and Netball games with live broadcasts that don't affect your overall data usage. Or in other words, you'll never miss a vital game just because you're not near a TV, or blow out your data usage streaming it, either!
Telstra's partnership with Foxtel also brings Foxtel Now to a wide variety of Telstra Mobile Phone plans, with free access for selected plans to Foxtel Now streaming packages, although data charges for streaming will still apply on those plans.
For Apple Music aficionados, Telstra offers a range of plans with free Apple Music subscriptions for a limited period. Even beyond that free period, usage of Apple Music for streaming (whether it's music or video, such as Carpool Karaoke) doesn't attract any data charges.
Telstra also tests its handsets for specific regional and rural suitability under its "Blue Tick" scheme, which rates specific handsets as being especially suitable for use in areas where mobile towers are few and far between. Not every handset gets the Blue Tick, but it's an easy way to see if your handset is going to get the best possible reception in all areas, including remote areas.
Telstra prepaid recharge options
- Online at m.telstra.com: If you’ve got your prepaid phone to hand, you can access Telstra’s web portal at any time with no data cost. From there, you can access your credit balance and recharge via credit/debit card, Visa Checkout, PayPal or CreditMe2U services.
- Online from your desktop: The same interface that you can use at Telstra’s mobile portal is also open to you from your computer’s web browser, although because it won’t be able to detect your mobile automatically, you will have to register for a Telstra ID, or link your Facebook ID with your Telstra account to manage and recharge your prepaid service.
- Via Telstra’s 24/7 app: Telstra’s mobile app for Android or iOS provides you with an easy way to check your prepaid balance. If you have other Telstra services you can log in with your Telstra ID, but if you’re using your mobile device directly and you’re not on a Wi-Fi connection, it can detect your SIM and service status, as well as letting you recharge your service. The Telstra 24/7 app is available free of charge for iOS (you can download it here), Android (download here), Windows Phone 8 (download here) or BlackBerry 10 handsets (download here).
- Via Credit Card/PayPal: Telstra supports payments via Visa, Mastercard, Diners Club, American Express or PayPal to recharge mobile services if that’s your payment gateway of choice, but you will have to go through Telstra’s prepaid payment gateway to avail yourself of the service. You can recharge your own mobile service, or the service of any other Telstra prepaid mobile this way.
- Via voucher: You can opt to purchase recharge vouchers at most supermarkets and other mass-market retailers, which you then apply to your mobile service through the Telstra 24/7 App or mobile web portal.
- By phone: If you’d rather use your phone to recharge, you can access recharge services by dialling 125 888 from your handset.
- Via automatic recharge: If you simply don't want to forget to recharge, you can set your account to automatically recharge on expiry through Telstra's 24/7 app or web portal. Bear in mind if you do opt for this feature, it will keep going even if you're not using the service any more until you explicitly tell it not to.
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