Telstra’s free data Sunday: What you need to know

Alex Kidman 10 February 2016

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Telstra is making all data free on its networks on Sunday to apologise for yesterday’s national outage. Here’s what you need to consider before diving into the free data sundae.

Telstra yesterday experienced a major national outage across its 3G and 4G networks, leaving many users on the Telstra network without any kind of service for many hours.

Normal service should be back up and running by now -- which is to say that if you’re still having issues, it’s probably due to some other factor -- and Telstra has stated that the issue related to a network node becoming faulty and being taken offline in an incorrect way that caused problems across the rest of the network.

By way of apology, Telstra has declared via a post on its Web site that it will make all mobile data free to use on 14 February for all Telstra customers.

Free mobile data? Sounds too good to be true -- what’s the catch?

There’s no significant catch to speak of; Telstra’s promise is that it won’t count data usage from any user all day Sunday. Equally, you don’t need to take any additional steps, install any additional apps or tweak any settings to enjoy free data on Sunday if you’re a Telstra mobile customer.

That being said, there are a few pitfalls you’d be wise to be aware of before attempting to gorge on data in a wholesale fashion.

  • Note your data usage before and after: Mobile data reporting often falls hours behind that of actual usage, so it would be wise to know what your available remaining quota was stated to be on Saturday. That way, if your account is suddenly depleted due to activity on a quota-free Sunday, you’ve got a good case to Telstra not to charge it to you if something goes wrong.
  • Expect congestion: Telstra hasn’t chosen Sunday because they’re suddenly feeling romantic. Weekends are typically slower use times for mobile networks, so the effective "cost" to Telstra is minimised. However, given it’s free there’s no reason not to stream video or download large files over mobile networks, especially if your regular fixed broadband service has an actual data quota. The issue there is that if everyone is doing so, you might find that the speedy Telstra 4GX network quickly becomes congested and slow.One potential way to sidestep that if you’re a Telstra customer might be to jump on a Telstra Air hotspot. Telstra’s currently running a promotion where Telstra customers can access and use Air hotspots quota free through to the end of the year. It’s no less free on Sunday than it would be at any other time, but if everyone else is hogging the good 4G bandwidth, it might be another way to keep up your data slurping habits.
  • Remember it’s only for Sunday: It can be very easy to get used to always using data when you want to. Remember, though, that by Monday you’ll be charged as normal, and Telstra does attach premium prices to its (usually) premium network.

If you're keen to get in on the free mobile data action, you could feasibly do so with a lower-cost Telstra prepaid SIM. Here is the current rundown on Telstra's prepaid SIM-only deals:

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