You can score yourself a whole lot of data on prepaid mobile plans these days, but which of the three big telcos offers the best deals?
Data is absolutely the key value criteria that telcos are measuring their plan values against, and that’s not surprising given how relatively cheaply you can score a plan with unlimited calling and texting provisions. Data is the last great value frontier, and even with Aussie telcos starting to dabble with "unlimited data" plans, truly affordable uncapped mobile plans are likely still a ways off.
Thankfully, standard data allowances for mobile plans have only been increasing, to the point where mobile Internet can feasibly serve as a substitute for a traditional fixed-line broadband connection. Prices, too, have improved across the board, especially in the prepaid space where the rise of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) has put the pressure on Optus, Telstra and Vodafone to slash their costs and offer greater value to their customers.
So how do the big three telcos fare when pitted against each other? Let's start by taking a look at how much data each of their standard month-to-month prepaid plans offers:
|Prepaid Plan Recharge Tiers||$30||$40||$50||$60|
|Vodafone Combo Plus||6GB||17GB||30GB||N/A|
|Optus Epic Data||10GB||20GB||30GB||40GB|
|Telstra Pre-Paid Extra||2.5GB||5GB||7.5GB||10GB|
In a strict data-only comparison, Optus has a clear edge on its two rivals thanks to the plentiful allowances on its Epic Data plans. That edge gets even keener with the addition of an extra 10GB of data purely for streaming video from Netflix, Stan and ABC iview. Combine that with the ability to roll over up to 50GB of unused data from one recharge to the next and you're looking at a whole lot of value for big-time data-users.
Vodafone, meanwhile, gets its advantage from the fact that Optus and Telstra's plans operate on a 28-day expiry, whereas its $40 and $50 Combo Plus plans come with a longer 35-day expiry. If you often find yourself with data left over at the end of each billing cycle, that 35-day expiry could end up saving you a decent chunk of cash over the long term.
Telstra's plans are a harder sell from a pure value perspective. Instead, Telstra's strength comes from its network which spans a larger percentage of the Australian population than the networks of its two competitors. Its network is also capable of higher speeds in select areas, making it the premium choice for when performance is more important than price.
Check out our in-depth comparison of prepaid mobile plans for options from even more providers.