How Mobile Data Sharing Works

How Mobile Data Sharing Works
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There are a lot of big steps you can take in a relationship. Dropping the ‘L bomb’, moving in together, combined finances, getting engaged. All these pale in comparison to sharing mobile data.

Sharing your precious data with a significant other is big. You have to trust that your partner won’t burn through it all while bingeing Netflix on the bus. You have to respect your partner’s share. And you have to forgive when someone inevitably goes over the cap anyway.

But how exactly does data sharing work?

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Shared plans are simple: the data allowance of every plan on your bill becomes a single pool. For example, if you and your bae both have your services on the same bill, and you both have a 15GB plan, you’ll end up with a total of 30GB to share between you.

It won’t always save you money, but a shared pool gives you more flexibility in reaching a data allowance that’s “just right” and can help avoid excess fees.

And if your partner doesn’t always use their entire allowance, you technically get extra at no cost. It’s like finishing their chips for them.

Optus and Vodafone are the two main telcos that offer plans with data sharing. The approach is similar in both cases, but there are some differences.

Optus automatically creates a data pool from the individual allowances of each postpaid plan on a single bill, and there’s no limit as to how many plans you can add. You’re able to pool data from plans that come with a new phone, leasing plans, tablet plans, SIM-only plans, and mobile broadband plans.

If you’re ready to get sharing but you and your squeeze aren’t already both on Optus, here’s the telcos range of SIM-only plans:

Or if you’d prefer a new phone, here are a few of the models you can choose from right now:

Optus also has a new family plan that gets you 250GB of shareable data across four SIM cards for $149 per month.

Vodafone lets you put up to five postpaid plans on a single bill for data sharing purposes. Handset, SIM-only, tablet, and mobile broadband plans can all be pooled, but there are a few restrictions.

These all revolve around Vodafone’s “unlimited” Red Plus plans with “data that never ends”. Data from Red Plus plans can only be shared with other Red Plus plans. Data from unlimited plans can’t be shared with non-unlimited plans and vice-versa.

If you’re confident enough in your relationship to throw your plans on the same bill and share data, Vodafone will also reward you with a slight discount. Bundling two plans (worth $30 per month or more each) gets you a 5% discount on your total bill.

Up until February 26, Vodafone is running a SIM-only promo plan that gets you 30GB of data for $35 per month. Here’s a selection of Vodafone SIM-only plans.

Adding in a Vodafone mobile broadband plan or NBN plan will take your total discount to 10% (although data from your NBN plan isn’t shareable). If you and your boo want to get the discount from bundling NBN, you’ll need to sign up for Vodafone’s NBN 50 or NBN 100 plan

Here’s Vodafone range of SIM-only plans:

Adding in a Vodafone mobile broadband plan or NBN plan will take your total discount to 10% (although data from your NBN plan isn’t shareable). This discount can go as high as 20% off your total bill if you put five plans on your account. Here are Vodafone’s current NBN plans:

The account holder on a Vodafone bill can also restrict any other plan’s access to the data pool. Try not to use this kill switch to win arguments.

But if your relationship isn’t at the stage where data sharing is appropriate, you could consider data gifting instead. Rather than sharing allowances, Belong lets mobile customers send their unused data to friends, friends-with-benefits, or lovers. Anyone really, provided they’re with Belong.

And since Belong plans bank your unused data at the end of a month, you can also dip into this pool for gifting. You should probs avoid using data gifts as a substitute for actual gifts, though.

Here’s Belong’s current range of SIM-only plans:

Best of all, Belong’s mobile plans are all contract-free, so you can always bail if the relationship ends.

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