The Best Telstra Network Providers That Aren’t Telstra

telstra 5G
Mobile phone service concept - Woman texting with question marks on a blackboard.

If you want Telstra network access, 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.

Telstra’s new plans are a little bit controversial. They have more data, but they’re also more expensive. And more than four million customers will automatically be moved over to them. While Telstra will waive the difference for the customers for 12 months if you manually migrate to a new plan before the end of September, a price hike is still a price hike.

If you’re not a fan of these changes, 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. Telstra runs Belong as its discount brand, undercutting its own plans. For example, while you’ll pay $55 per month for a Teltra SIM-only plan with 40GB, the same thing will cost you $40 on Belong.

Belong’s plans are also packed with inclusions you won’t find on Telstra. If you’re after international calls on a Telstra postpaid plan, you’ll need to pay an extra $10 per month. On the other hand, Belong’s $40 plan includes unlimited talk and text to 30 countries. Alternatively, you can bolt-on an international call pack to other plans for an extra $5 per month.

All Belong plans include data rollover. Any unused data at the end of each month is stored for future use, and you can save as much data as you want. You’re also able to drop down to a cheaper plan if you manage to build up a stash, and save on your monthly bill until you manage to burn through it.

If you’ve got friends on Belong, you can also gift data in 1GB increments.

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

Boost Mobile plans

Boost is kinda special when it comes to Telstra MVNOs. It’s the only one with full Telstra network access. Telstra’s network reaches 99.4% of the population, but the Telstra wholesale network that providers like Belong, ALDI, and Woolworths rely on only reaches 98.8% of the population.

This might seem like a tiny difference, but it can affect coverage in some remote, regional, and rural areas. Here’s how the full Telstra network and the Telstra wholesale network compare:

In addition to more coverage than other Telstra MVNOs, there are a few other reasons to consider Boost. 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:

Boost Mobile also longer expiry options available:

For example, you can get a 240GB plan for $300 which will last an entire year. That’s the equivalent of paying $25 per month for 20GB. If you can stomach the upfront cost, that’s excellent value – especially for the Telstra network.

Woolworths Mobile plans

It might not be common knowledge, but Woolworths Mobile is often one of the best value options for buying a phone on a plan, not just undercutting Telstra but also Optus and Vodafone. In fact, it’s the only provider other than Big T that will sell you a new phone on the Telstra network.

For example, the cheapest Galaxy S20 5G plan on Telstra will set you back $117.45 per month for 40GB on a 24-month term, whereas you’d pay $97 per month on Woolworths Mobile for the same data allowance. You can also opt for a 36-month plan to spread out the damage, which Telstra no longer offers.

Woolworths Mobile doesn’t have as large a range of smartphones as Telstra, but it sells most OPPO and Samsung devices, including the entire S20 range. Here’s a look at some of the more popular phones the telco has available:

It is of course worth remembering that Woolworths doesn’t have access to the Telstra 5G network. If you buy a 5G handset like the Galaxy S20 Ultra or the OPPO Find X2 Pro through Woolies, you’ll only be able to use 4G connectivity.

Woolworths Mobile also has some a good range of SIM-only plans, but these all require a 12-month commitment:

ALDI Mobile plans

If you’d prefer to get your phone plan from a different supermarket, ALDI Mobile is also powered by the Telstra network. ALDI has a solid range of prepaid plans, all sold on a 30-day expiry.

The plans themselves are a bit basic but spending at least $25 per month nets you unlimited talk and text to 15 countries and a further 100 minutes for another 35.

All ALDI Mobile prepaid plans also include data rollover.

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

Pennytel plans

Pennytel is one of the newer names on the Telstra network, and focuses on affordability. At present, every plan will cost you less than $30 per month. Pennytel’s $29.99 per month plan is a solid option, offering 20GB on a contract-free basis.

Here are Pennytel’s current SIM-only plans:

MATE plans

MATE is better known as an NBN provider, but the company is now also slinging SIM-only plans powered by the Telstra network.

The plans themselves tend to offer better value than many other Telstra MVNOs, netting you just a little more data for your dollar in many cases. Better yet, if you bundle a MATE SIM-only plan with a MATE NBN plan, you’ll save $10 per month from your monthly bill.

Here are MATE’s SIM-only plans:

numobile plans

numobile is a telco with a twist. This Telstra network provider exclusively sells refurbished smartphones. Devices on offer tend to be a little older – phones such as the iPhone X and Galaxy S9 – but this means you generally save some cash.

Refurbished phone sellers like numobile put their phones through multiple stages of testing to ensure everything still works, but they may have some superficial damage like light scuffs and scratches.

Here’s a few of the devices you can get via numobile:

numobile also has a range of SIM-only plans:

So why bother with Telstra?

While most Big T 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, Telstra keeps its full network to itself. This means other MVNOs miss out on access to some towers, and in turn, have less coverage in some rural and regional areas.

In addition, no Telstra MVNO currently has access to the Telstra 5G network.

While overseas travel isn’t exactly A Thing right now, MVNOs tend to be a bad choice for global roaming. You’ll pay exorbitant pay-as-you-go rates, or roaming might be disabled entirely.

On Telstra proper 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. Admittedly, this can add up quickly.

If you’re overseas for three days or more, you’re at the point where a local SIM at your destination will work out to be better value.

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
  • Bonus subscriptions for streaming services such as Binge and Kayo

Telstra Plus also means you’ll earn points for every dollar you spend with Telstra, which can then be redeemed on a gadget or a discount on a new phone.

The dollar value of points is minuscule – you certainly shouldn’t sign-up for Telstra just because it has a loyalty program – but it’s a welcome addition if you were going to anyway.

Here are Telstra’s current SIM-only plans:

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