Here’s Why You Should Ditch Optus, Telstra and Vodafone for One of These Smaller Mobile Providers

Here’s Why You Should Ditch Optus, Telstra and Vodafone for One of These Smaller Mobile Providers
Contributor: Alex Choros
At Gizmodo, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.

While Optus, Telstra and Vodafone might be the biggest mobile providers in Australia that doesn’t they’re your only options. If you’re looking to cut down your phone bill, there are a fair few smaller providers – typically referred to as Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) – that use the same mobile networks as the Big Three. These MVNOs generally offer better deals that include more data for less money.

Most MVNO plans are contract-free these days, which means there’s no risk in trying a smaller provider. If you swap telco and you’re not happy, you don’t need to stay around. It also means you can always change again if a better deal comes around, which happens fairly frequently.

If you’re looking to jump ship from a big provider like Optus, Telstra and Vodafone, here are the cheapest MVNO plans available in Australia, and how they compare with their parent mobile network.

What is an MVNO?

MVNOs buy wholesale access to the three mobile networks in Australia – Telstra, Optus or Vodafone – and then resell it themselves, often at a lower price. Since MVNOs tend to have lower overheads, smaller marketing budgets and don’t have brick-and-mortar stores, you tend to find mobile plans with better data for dollars than what you’d get with their parent network.

Also remember that you can always keep your phone number when you change providers, no matter how often you swap. Your number is protected by law, and your current telco needs to transfer it to your new provider when you switch. Or if you don’t want it, you can always get a new number to go with your new plan.

There are naturally still reasons to consider a major provider. The most pertinent is if you’re also after a new phone. MVNOs don’t typically sell handsets, or when they do, it’s a much smaller range. Woolworths Mobile stocks Samsung and OPPO devices, but not much else, for example.

Most MVNOs don’t offer international roaming, and when they do, it’s a lot more expensive than what you’d pay on the parent network.

How do Optus plans compare with its MVNOs

Many of the best mobile deals around come from Optus-powered MVNOs. For comparison, Optus‘ SIM-only plans start at $49 per month for 30GB.

If you go with Circles.Life, you’ll get 30GB for $11 per month. This price lasts for the first six months of your connection, after which it’ll increase to $30 per month. Even at full price, that’s cheaper than what Optus has on offer for the same data allowance.

Circles.Life’s larger plans also include a heap of bonus data, if you want a huge bang for your buck.

Alternatively, Moose Mobile currently has a plan where you’ll get 25GB of data for $11.80 per month. This pricing lasts for the first eight months of your connection, after which you’ll pay $24.80 per month. This Moose Mobile plan is also the cheapest way to access Optus’ 5G network. The plan is contract-free, so you can always swap providers after the discount runs out.

If you don’t want to mess around with changing prices, Spintel has a 50GB plan that’s available for a flat rate of $29 per month.

How do Telstra plans compare with its MVNOs

Nowhere is the difference in price between a telco and its MVNOs clearer than when it comes to Telstra. Its non-prepaid SIM-only plans start at $62 per month for 50GB. The provider will throw in some free gifts, which include two months of BINGE and four months of Spotify Premium.

Alternatively, Numobile is offering a 25B plan for $27 per month, a 32GB plan for $30 per month and a 50GB for $38 per month. Across the board, that’s better dollar-to-data value compared to what Telstra is offering – especially when you consider that Numobile’s most expensive plan ($56 per month) is still cheaper than Telstra’s starter plan, and comes with triple the data allowance (150GB). Numobile’s plans with 50GB and upwards have access to Telstra’s 5G network.

Telstra’s budget brand Belong offers similar value to Numobile, although with a bit more data in some cases. Its plans start at $29 per month for 25GB of data and range up to $55 per month for 160GB. This 25GB plan from Belong is also the cheapest way you can access Telstra’s 5G mobile network.

How do Vodafone plans compare with its MVNOs

Vodafone’s cheapest SIM-only postpaid plan will set you back $49 per month with 50GB. So how well do the MVNOs on its network fare?

To start, TPG is offering 25GB of data for $12.50 for your first six months, and $25 per month thereafter. If you need more data, you can nab TPG’s 45GB plan for an extra $2.50 per month ($15). However, much like its 25GB plan, this pricing will only last for the first six months of your connection and increase to $30 per month once the discount period ends.

There’s also iiNet, which is offering its 40GB plan for $15 per month for your first six months. This rises to $29.99 per month after this introductory period ends, but if you’re an iiNet internet customer, you’ll also get 80GB of bonus data if you bundle in this mobile plan.

If you don’t want to mess around with changing monthly prices, Kogan has fixed-rate plans with decent data allowances. You can get 40GB for $25 per month, or 80GB for $40 per month.

Felix is a rather interesting Vodafone MVNO that has a unique proposition: you’ll pay $40 per month for unlimited data capped at speeds of 20Mbps. That’s similar to an NBN 25 connection and still more than fast enough for most mobile activities. You can currently get 50 per cent off your first three months if you use the promo code FELIX50.

If you want 5G access, Lebara‘s 35GB plan is your cheapest way in. This plan is usually $29.90 per month and if you sign up before August 18, you can score an extra 35GB for your first 30 days. Outside of the parent network, Lebara is the only MVNO with access to Vodafone’s 5G network.

Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website. 

Image: 20th Television Animation