Over the years, this has jumped to 99c per minute or more on some so-called 'capped plans', with what was initially a no-mininum monthly spend morphing into a cap amount that was a minimum spend whether the cap value was used, or not.
Those early days were pioneered by Three Mobile in 2003 when it first launched its 3G service, but now in 2011, capped plans are more famous for bill shocks and cap slaps that cost consumers far more than the headline cap amount is supposed to be.
So in has charged Amaysim, which not only shook up the Australian telco market with charges of 15c per MINUTE - equalling 7.5c per 30 seconds - but also doing away with the kinda almost evil 'flagfall' charge that every other telco revels in, much to the chagrin of consumers' wallets.
Now, when someone comes to the market offering an 'unlimited' plan, one has to immediately ask - what the hell are the limits?
After all, unlimited is just a marketing term, right? Surely there's no 'real' unlimited phone and text plan out there for home users and consumers?
Well, it looks like Amaysim has done it, and the news will undoubtedly send quite a different 'bill shock' - except this time right to Amaysim's competitors, who'll surely be reeling from an exodus of users desperate for actual call and SMS value.
This then leads to the obvious question: what is Amaysim's new deal for heavy talkers, and what are its inclusions and exclusions?
Well, it's all pretty simple. For AUD $39.90, you get unlimited Australian local and mobile calls, in Australia, with no 'thresholds' beyond an expectation that you'll not be glued to your phone 24x7 or are making extraordinarily high, non-stop use of your Amaysim service.
There's unlimited national access to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, MySpace and eBay within Australia and unlimited voicemail access.
You get unlimited SMS and MMS included, as well as a very nice 4GB of data, which smartphone users will naturally find very useful, and it's all delivered on the Optus 3G network, so while it's naturally not as good as Telstra's Next G network, it's a gazillion times better than Vodafone or Three's networks.
You get SMS alerts once you've reached 75%, 90% and 100% of the included 4GB allowance, and if you go over the limit, you pay just 5c per megabyte - or you can purchase additional 1GB blocks at $9.90 each.
What's not included is video calls (which are charged at 49c per minute in Australia), there's no 1800 or 1300 calls included (as you'd expect), and calls and texts to international numbers are naturally extra, as are premium SMS messages, call diversions and satellite calls.
However, if you want unlimited calls to normal Australian landlines and mobiles - $39.90 per 30 days on what is effectively the Optus network is a better deal than even Optus or Virgin Mobile are offering, and will definitely be raising competitive eyebrows and tempting a deal-loving public.
Amaysim also launched a bunch of stats showing how most Aussies were being ripped off by their caps, either through underuse of the cap or overuse, something that wastes money.
Also Amaysim didn't mention this, but to me, it's obvious: having a true 'unlimited' plan takes away the angst and anxiety over knowing how much of your cap you have left or how much the call is costing you.
Being 'unlimited' changes you from having a mentality of lack and holding back to a mentality of being free and unworried about timing every single call.
Rolf Hansen, the founder and CEO of amaysim said, 'More than 2.7 million Australians over spent on their caps in the past year purely because they don't know what is and what isn't included in their offering and what the penalties and consequences are if they exceed their cap.
'The new amaysim UNLIMITED is designed to address this issue and give consumers what they want - low price calls and texts and lots of data, all within Australia. The aim is to provide a plan that is as simple as possible, while being completely transparent about what is and isn't included. We want to give consumers the freedom to talk, text and socialise in Australia as much as they like without having to worry about being punished with unexpected bills.
'So-called cap deals with bonus minutes and free money are being used to entice consumers but in many cases they simply don't translate into the best value. We believe that amaysim UNLIMITED is what the market is looking for, particularly for chatterboxes and frequent texters and we built this plan with the input of Australian consumers', added Mr Hansen.
While Amaysim won't yet divulge subscriber numbers, it says growth has been very good, and has significantly expanded its retail network to 'more than 8,000 retail outlets include 7-Eleven, Harvey Norman, Woolworths Petrol, Caltex, Newslink, 7-Eleven, Harvey Norman, Woolworths, Dick Smith, Myer, Coles Express, Franklins, Caltex, Coles, Australia Post and many more'.
Key survey findings from Amaysim on the expectations Aussies have about their phones and mobile plans concludes on page three, please read on!
Amaysim's key survey findings are as follows:
- 80% of consumers surveyed admit they are uncertain about the cost of a text message if they go over their cap
- 88% of consumers are unclear about charges if they need additional data over their cap plan
- Two-fifths (42%) of current mobile cap plan users feel locked in by their cap plan and this rises to 57% among those who habitually exceed their cap
- One in four say they were conned by their telco into their contract
- Almost three quarters (74%) of people who exceeded their cap do so not once but multiple times in a year
- Many continue to stay on a cap plan because they are on a contract and cannot leave without paying a large fee (34%) or are unaware of any better alternatives (21%)
- The main gripes about capped plans are the additional costs for data, texts and calls (28%) and not being notified when consumers reach or exceed the cap (33%)
- The majority (79%) of consumers on a capped plan do not know precisely what they are charged for calls inside their existing plan. While some indicate that they have a vague idea (35%) many admit that they just don't know (20%) or have forgotten (24%)
- The main motivation in choosing cap plans is the desire to have predictability of spend (88%)
- Over one third (35%) indicate that they find it hard to track the costs of their cap plan