Mobile Plan Showdown: Telstra Vs Belong

telstra beyond phone plansImage: iStock

You might not know it, but Belong is quite literally budget Telstra. Big T runs Belong as its discount mobile and internet brand, and in many cases, undercuts its mainline products. In fact, Belong even has some of the cheapest plans available on the Telstra network.

Of course, a cheap Telstra plan might seem too good to be true. You might be wondering if Belong's cut price plans can hold up to what you get with Telstra proper. This is how they compare.

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Coverage

Belong might be powered by Telstra, but it doesn't have access to the entire Telstra network. Belong uses the Telstra wholesale network to deliver mobile service, which reaches 98.8 per cent of the Australian population. Telstra's full network reaches 99.4 per cent.

This might not seem like a massive difference, but it can affect coverage in remote, regional, and rural areas.

Here's how the full Telstra network compares to Belong:


Data Inclusions

Belong only offers three different data options right now: 1GB (for $10 per month), 10GB (for $25 per month), or 30GB (priced at $40 per month). Spending $5 per month more on the first two plans adds international talk and text, but these are included as standard on the $40 plan. Belong’s plans are as follows.

Data allowances go far higher on Telstra, with plans ranging from a 2GB seven-day prepaid recharge all the way up to a 150GB SIM-only plan. These are Telstra's SIM-only plans. All of these can be paired with a new phone, albeit with additional monthly repayment fees.


Plan Types

Belong's plan range is pretty simple: there are three no-contract SIM-only plans. That's all. No prepaid, no phones, nothing else. Here's the range again:

Telstra also has a core range of no-contract SIM-only plans. These are as follows:

In addition, these can also be paired with a new phone, on a 24-month or 36-month repayment term. Here's a small selection of the devices you can get with Telstra right now:

Lastly, Telstra also has a wide range of prepaid plans. "Prepaid Max" is Telstra's core offering, but it's a little complicated. The more you pay, the longer your recharge. For example, $30 gets you 20GB on a 28-day term, $40 gets you 35GB on a 35-day term, or $50 gets you 43GB on 42-day term. Thanks for that, Telstra.


Excess Fees

If you manage to go over your monthly data allowance on your Belong plan, you won't be charged any excess fees.

Instead, your service will be capped at speeds of 256kbps for the remainder of your billing month. That's only about five times as a fast as dial up, which is a moderately-sized yikes.

You might still be able to load a web page or check your email, but you'll struggle to scroll through your socials, let alone stream anything.

You can however purchase extra data at any time. You'll pay $10 for a 2GB top-up, which is a bit more generous than the industry standard of $10 per GB.

Just like Belong, Telstra doesn't charge any excess fees, at least when it comes to postpaid plans. If you go over your data allowance, your service will be capped at speeds of 1.5Mbps. That's pretty slow, but more usable than the capped speeds you'd get on Belong. Telstra doesn't let customers purchase any extra high-speed data on its new postpaid plans.

If you go over your data allowance on a Telstra prepaid plan, you'll need to purchase a new recharge or a data top-up. Top-ups start at $5 for 1GB.


International Calls

You can bolt on international inclusions to Belong's 1GB and 10GB plan for an extra $5 per month, but these come standard on the teclo's 40GB plan. No matter which option you pick, inclusions are the same: you'll get unlimited talk and text to over 30 countries. These include:

Austria, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the UK, the USA, and Vietnam.

Telstra has cut international inclusions from all its postpaid plans; you’ll have to pay an extra $10 per month if you're hoping to call or text overseas on a regular basis.

Your $10 per month gets you unlimited calls to Canada, China, Germany, Guam, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Puerto Rico, Romania, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, US Virgin Islands, the USA, and the UK. If you want to call a country not on this list, PAYG rates will apply.

However, Telstra's Prepaid Max plans have out of the box international inclusions. These plans come with unlimited calls to Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand, the UK, the USA, and Vietnam.


International Roaming

Belong plans don't have international roaming, so if you're hoping to use your phone overseas, you'll need to grab a travel SIM or a local SIM when you arrive at your destination.

Some Telstra postpaid plans used to include international roaming as a standard feature, but this got axed with Telstra's latest plan refresh. Instead, you'll pay $10 per day, which gets you 200MB of daily data and unlimited talk and text in more than 70 countries.

This data expires at midnight AEST, rather than in the time zone of your country you’re visiting.

If you're travelling to New Zealand, you'll only pay $5 per day.

If you go over your 200MB of daily data, Telstra will bill an extra $10 and a further 500MB of roaming data to your account. This data has a 31-day expiry and can be used on subsequent days whenever you go over your initial 200MB.


Bonuses

Belong's plans are pretty no frills, but there are a few nifty bonuses. Belong plans allow you to bank or rollover any unused data you may have. Any gigs you don't end up using in your billing month are stored away for future use, for an indefinite period time (provided you don't leave a payment overdue too long).

Since Belong lets you change plans once per month, you can always drop down to the telco's $10 per month plan for a bit if you manage to build up a bit of a stockpile.

In addition to saving unused data for your own selfish reasons, you can gift it to any mates you've got on Belong. If you've got data to spare, you can send it to any active Belong user in 1GB increments, provided you've got at least a gig left in your monthly allowance or in your data bank.

Telstra postpaid customers can't bank data, but Telstra prepaid customers can. If you're a Telstra prepaid customer, you can save up to 200GB of unused data, provided you recharge your plan before its expiry.

In addition, most Telstra plans come with a bunch of extras. To start, every Telstra mobile customer gets the following with their plan or recharge:

  • Data-free music streaming through Apple Music
  • Free access to Telstra Air Wi-Fi hotspots in Australia
  • Free access to Fon public Wi-Fi hotposts when overseas

Customers spending at least $30 per month on their plan or recharge also get AFL, AFLW, NRL, Netball, and My Football Live Passes, which allow you to watch every game of the season live and data-free.

Telstra customers also get access to the Telstra Plus perks program. This includes:

  • $12.50 movie tickets for Event and BCC cinemas, excluding sessions after 5pm on a Saturday, public holidays, and special events
  • Free popcorn and drink large combo upgrade when you book a movie ticket through Telstra
  • Discounted tickets to select sporting events
  • Presale tickets for select concerts and events


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


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