The Best Telstra Network Providers That Aren't Telstra

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If you want access to the Telstra network, Telstra isn't your only choice. There are plenty of other smaller telcos powered by the Telstra network; some who you'll be familiar with, some who you won't.

These providers tend to offer the same basic service as Telstra, but often at a cheaper price. And given Telstra's new plan range, they could be more compelling than ever.

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Telstra's new plans introduced a whole host of sweeping changes. Some are good: every plan is contract free and excess data charges are dead.

And some are bad: no postpaid plan includes international calls and 5G costs extra on all but top-tier plans.

While existing customers can stick around on their current plan for a bit, Telstra plans to move new customers to the new product range by the end of June 2021.

While a lot can change between now and then, there are reasons existing Telstra customers may not want to stick with Telstra.

If that's you, it might be time to consider another provider powered by the Telstra network. Here's a look at who's who.


Belong

Belong is quite literally budget Telstra. Big T runs Belong as its discount mobile brand, undercutting mainline Telstra products.

Belong data allowances don't go quite as high as what Telstra offers, topping out at 30GB, but there are plenty of little bonuses that make Belong a great Telstra alternative.

All Belong plans include data rollover; whatever data you don't use each month is banked for future use, and you can store as many gigabytes as you'd like.

If you manage to stockpile a good chunk of data and want to save money, you can always drop down to Belong's $10 plan until you burn through your data bank.

If you've still got data to spare, you can gift it to any active Belong customer in increments of 1GB.

While Telstra's postpaid plans no longer include international calls as standard, Belong's $40 plan includes unlimited talk and text to over 30 countries.

If you don't quite need that much data, you can add international calls as a bolt-on to any other plan for an extra $5 per month. That's half the price of what Telstra charges for over twice the destinations.

Much like Telstra, all Belong's plans are contract-free. Here's the whole range:


Boost Mobile

Boost Mobile is unique when it comes to Telstra powered providers. Unlike every other MVNO on this list, Boost is the carrier with access to the entire Telstra network.

While Telstra's full network reaches 99.4% of the Australian population, the Telstra wholesale network that powers the likes of Belong, ALDI Mobile, Woolworths Mobile, and more only reaches 98.8% of the population.

This might not seem like a huge difference, but it does affect coverage in some remote, regional, and rural areas. Here's how the regular Telstra network and the Telstra wholesale network compare:

In addition to more coverage, Boost Mobile has a few other nifty perks. All plans include data-free streaming of Apple Music, and all 28-day recharges include data rollover if you top up before expiry.

Here are Boost Mobile's current 28-day recharges:


Woolworths Mobile

The fresh food people probably aren't who comes to mind when you're thinking of phones, but Woolworths Mobile has made a name for itself in recent years thanks to its great value plans.

In fact, Woolies is the only provider other than Big T that sells phones on a plan on the Telstra network, making it an attractive option if you want a new device without paying too much of a premium.

Woolworths Mobile doesn't have as large a range of smartphones as Telstra, but it sells most OPPO and Samsung devices. Here's a look at some of the more popular phones the telco has available:

Woolworths Mobile also has a solid range of SIM only plans including features like data rollover:


ALDI Mobile

Woolworths isn't the only supermarket MVNO powered by the Telstra network. ALDI Mobile has a whole host of Telstra powered prepaid plans, all with a 30-day expiry.

The plans themselves are fairly no frills, but spending at least $25 per month nets you unlimited talk and text to 15 countries, and at least 100 minutes for another 35. All ALDI Mobile prepaid plans also include data rollover.

Here are ALDI Mobile's current 30-day recharges:


Pennytel

Pennytel is a newer Telstra network provider that solely focuses on more affordable connectivity options: every plan in the range currently costs less than $30 per month.

These plans are all contract-free, and unsurprisingly, focus on the essentials. However, Pennytel's $28.99 per month plan will also get you unlimited talk and text to 15 countries.

Pennytel doesn't have any devices available yet, but it will be ranging the new Nokia 3.2 and Nokia 4.2 from next week. We don't know whether these will be available as prepaid handsets or on a more traditional phone contract yet, however.

Here are Pennytel's current SIM-only plans:


So why bother with Telstra?

While most Telstra powered providers offer better bang-for-buck than Daddy Telstra itself, there are still a few of compelling reasons to sell your soul to Australia's largest telco.

For one, other than in the case of Boost, Big T keeps its full network to itself. This means other MVNOs miss out on access to some towers, and in turn, have less regional coverage.

Most MVNOs suck when it comes to global roaming; it's either disabled entirely or offered on hefty pay-as-you-go rates.

On Telstra you'll pay $10 per day you're overseas which gets you 200MB of data and unlimited talk and text. If you go over, you'll pay another $10 for a 500MB top-up with a 31-day expiry. It's not the best roaming option out there, but it's far from the worst.

Lastly, you'll also get access to the Telstra Plus perks program, which gets you a few bonuses. These include:

· $12.50 movie tickets for Event and BCC cinemas, excluding sessions after 5pm on a Saturday, public holidays, and special events

· Free large popcorn and drink combo upgrade when you book a movie ticket through Telstra

· Presale tickets for select concerts and events

· Discounted tickets for select sporting events

Telstra Plus also means you'll earn points for every dollar you spend with Telstra. While you'll need a lot of these to nab yourself a free gadget or get a discount, it's nice to have that option if you were thinking about going with Telstra anyway.

Here are Telstra's new SIM-only plans:


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

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