Telstra has finally implemented near-instantaneous alerts for its mobile phone and mobile broadband customers, improving on an existing system that was slow and clunky and responsible for more than a few accidental excess usage charges. Unintentional data overage should now be a thing of the past, at least for Telstra customers.
Telstra, as had all other Aussie telcos, previously sent out SMS usage alerts to customers reaching the 50, 85 and 100 per cent points of their data usage, but these SMS alerts were generally sent within an extremely generous 48 hour window, letting you rack up excess charges before that notification. I can't tell you the number of "106 per cent" usage alerts, and higher, that I've received in the past year.
Now, though, those usage alerts will be nearly instant — "within seconds" of hitting the Telecommunications Protection Code-mandated 50, 85 or 100 per cent markers in your data quota, you'll get a message from Telstra advising you. With the speed of Telstra's 4G networks, and the upcoming 4GX and LTE-Advanced rollout, it's easy to blow past your limit and rack up plenty of excess usage, Of course, it's a feature that has been available in the past to Telstra 24x7 app users, but it's good that Telstra is taking the effort to be proactive about notifying customers.
Consumer group ACCAN is keen on the change, naturally — according to CEO Teresa Corbin, excess usage complaints have grown by almost 30 per cent in the last year. Says Corbin: "Consumers not realising there can be a two day delay in the data usage notifications could easily use a gigabyte or two of data which would set them back between $50-$100. We’d like to see real time alerts being offered by all of the Australian telcos so all consumers can reap the benefits. Forty-eight hours is too large a gap to inform consumers they have reached their limit. We encourage the other telcos to follow suit and implement real time alerts as soon as possible."
If you're one of Telstra's millions of existing customers, or whether you switch over, you'll have access to the real-time alerts very soon — they're rolling out across the consumer customer base right now, and should be available to all users by the end of November. That means that probably in your next billing cycle, you'll have a more accurate idea of how and when and where you're using your mobile data.
(Of course, it still pays to be careful, and there's no notification that real-time alerts are enabled, so give it a couple of months just to be safe.) [Telstra]