Although Australia has a wealth of fabulous MVNOs — mobile virtual network operators — like Amaysin, Kogan Mobile, Boost, Vaya, Aldi Mobile, Woolworths Connect and others, Telstra, Vodafone and Optus have their own suite of pre-paid deals, too.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve switched between Amaysim, Boost, Vodafone and Telstra.
I loved Amaysim and Boost for their low prices and high data inclusions, and I loved Vodafone pre-paid which included $5 per day international roaming, which was incredibly fabulous and astoundingly affordable when I travelled overseas.
So, why have I signed up to Telstra as a post-paid customer?
Well, one thing I truly loved about Vodafone, which Kogan Mobile also offers, is Visual Voicemail for iPhone users.
This was introduced 10 years ago in 2007 for the very first iPhone, and no Android maker — not Samsung, not HTC, not LG, not Motorola, not Sony, not Google themselves — has had the guts to copy it.
It’s the most incredible way of going through voicemail messages that it’s extremely disappointing no other phone maker has teamed up with any telco around the world to offer this service, and it’s something that adds tremendously to the value that iPhones bring to customers.
The only problem is that not every telco or MVNO is smart enough to offer it.
Telstra does, but only for post-paid customers, so no access if you’re on pre-paid.
Boost doesn’t, nor does Amaysim or Vaya, nor Aldi, nor Woolworths.
Optus only offers it to its corporate customers.
So, that leaves Vodafone and Kogan for all, and Telstra for post-paid customers.
Well, I really, really wanted to get visual voicemail back, but didn’t particularly want to lock myself in to a 12-month contract with Telstra.
So, for some reason, on Saturday morning I decided to look at Telstra’s site to see what post-paid plans they offered.
Telstra casual month-to-month post-paid plans
Imagine my surprise to see a brand new Telstra post-paid option – a casual, month to month plan range!!
Yes, Telstra has a SIM-only plan that is on a 12-month contract. They also have mobiles on a plan – a two-year contract plan.
But now there’s a “Casual SIM only plan” – a month-to-month plan with BYO mobile.
So, I had a look.
The XS plan is completely hopeless. It is $35 per month, with $300 talk and SMS, unlimited Telstra Air and 500MB of data. Like I said, hopeless. An insult to anyone’s intelligence, and priced so that few would bother choosing it – especially when Apple Music data-free streaming is also available on Boost Mobile.
Next up is the S plan – the $50 per month plan. It comes with a much nicer 8GB of data – with none of the nonsense on the pre-paid plan where some data is only usable during the day, and the rest during the night.
Nope, that’s gone on this plan – you can use the 8GB whenever you want.
The catch? You “only” get $1000 of talk and SMS, and unlimited Telstra Air, after which it’s a dollar a minute or something like that. I didn’t see the $1000 “cap” at first, but I noticed it later.
Then comes the M plan. This is the one I went for – it gives you a whopping 15GB of data. You get the unlimited talk and text you’re used to. Unlimited Telstra Air. Unlimited international calls and text to 10 major countries.
There’s another plan, called L, which isn’t listed, but is listed on the “CIS” or critical information summary.
This plan costs $90 and gives you 25GB of data, and the same inclusion as the $70 plan.
You can also pay $10 per 1GB if you go over your limit, which is the same as others.
You also get six months free Apple Music, the aforementioned unlimited Telstra Air, and 200GB of OneDrive storage if you want it.
There’s also a new International Pass. It’s the best one Telstra has ever offered, even if it still sucks a lot compared to Vodafone’s awesome $5 per day roaming.
Telstra charges $10 per day that you use your phone in eligible countries, giving you unlimited calls and text, and 100MB of data.
The data inclusion sucks, but unlimited talk and text for just $10 per day is great! Much better than previous bill shock charging.
Terrible on the data, but you’ll use Wi-Fi or get a local SIM to put into a spare unlocked phone, which you’ll then use as a mobile hotspot.
You can also then use Skype or Viber or Messenger or WhatsApp and talk to family and friends that way, so you avoid too many $10 per day charges.
That local SIM will also let you make local calls without paying the $10 per day.
Sign up process and customer service
So, I walked into a Telstra store on Saturday afternoon, just as a regular member of the public, and signed up. I was signed up in just a few minutes, and the process was totally effortless.
I’m still waiting for Visual Voicemail to be switched on – it should happen sometime today (17 July, as I write this article at about 1am), but $70 for 15GB and all the other inclusions is a price that I am personally prepared to pay
I even got a phone call yesterday, Sunday afternoon, from the same young man who served me on Saturday to see if my Visual Voicemail had been set up yet, and upon finding out it hadn’t, reassured me it would be switched on and he’d personally see to it.
Update: It's 8.00am, 18 July, and my long-awaited Visual Voicemail is now working!!
That’s service – maybe Telstra is finally learning a thing or two about good customer service! I mean, past experience would say they still have much to learn despite being in business for about a century, but I’ll take any improvements and will be happy about it.
Now yes, it’s true, you or I can get much cheaper service from any of the aforementioned MVNOs, but Telstra has the coverage, data speeds and visual voicemail that I want, and its pricing is finally at a level — with month-to-month flexibility — that it has never offered before.
It was enough to make me switch to post-paid. It may be enough for you to switch, too – and if not, a wealth of cheaper options on any of the three major networks has made modern telephony the best we’ve ever had, at the most amazing prices we’ve ever seen.
It really is the golden age of smartphones, telecommunications and mobile Internet, and it shows no signs of ending any time soon, with the best still yet to come!