Unlimited Data Plans Don’t Mean The Same Thing For Every Telco

Unlimited Data Plans Don’t Mean The Same Thing For Every Telco
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Australian mobile plans have had ‘unlimited’ data for a number of years, but they’re not as straightforward as NBN offerings, where unlimited is truly unlimited. All you can eat data at full speeds. On a mobile plan, that’s not quite the case.

While the telco industry loves to throw around terms like ‘endless’ and ‘infinite’, unlimited mobile data always has a catch. For the most part, this relates to the speed you can use it at.

Unlimited mobile data is going to be slower than the actual speeds you can get over a 4G or 5G network. Where it gets trickier is each telco with unlimited data takes a different approach as to how this is implemented.

So, if you’re thinking about a plan with unlimited mobile data, here’s what you need to know.

Telstra plans with unlimited data

All of Telstra’s postpaid and Upfront plans have unlimited data even if you exceed your primary allowance — but it will at a capped speed.

You’re still paying for a certain amount of ‘full speed’ data that you can use at the maximum 4G or 5G network speeds in your area – at least 40GB. If you go over it you’ll be able to keep using your plan without paying excess fees. However,  your ‘unlimited’ data is capped at speeds of 1.5Mbps. That’s still fast enough to stream Netflix on your phone, but the overall experience will definitely feel slower.

But here’s a neat trick.

If you’ve run out of data and need faster speeds, Telstra lets you change plans once a month. If you increase your data allowance on a Telstra Upfront plan, you’ll get the higher data limit instantly, but you won’t pay any extra until next month’s payment date.

You can then drop back down to a cheaper plan the following month, but you’ll keep your higher data allowance until the end of the billing month.

Optus plans

Thanks to plan changes in December, all of Optus’ postpaid plans now have unlimited data. As with Telstra, you’ll get capped to speeds of 1.5Mbps if you go over your primary data allowance.

If that happens and you don’t want to deal with slower speeds, Optus also has data add-ons available. Pricing for extra data is as follows:

  • 2GB: $5
  • 10GB: $10
  • 30GB: $20

Given you’d previously pay $10 for a gigabyte of excess data, these are a much better value.

If you’d prefer truly unlimited data, Optus also has an Unlimited Data Day add-on which you can purchase for $5 through the My Optus app. This gets you 24 hours of unlimited data at full network speeds.

Vodafone plans with unlimited data

Vodafone isn’t dissimilar to Telstra and Optus when it comes to unlimited data on postpaid plans, but the speeds you’ll get are faster and increase with your monthly spend. Once you go over your primary data allowance, you’ll get access to unlimited data at capped speeds.

This starts at 2Mbps on the telco’s 50GB and 60GB plans, jumps to 10Mbps on its 100GB and 200GB plans, and maxes out at 25Mbps on the 500GB plan.

Of course, you could always make the argument you don’t need any extra data if you’re already on a 500GB plan. But hey, we believe in you and your download powers.

Vodafone’s prepaid plans also have unlimited data at speeds of 1.5Mbps for when you go over your primary data allowance.

Felix mobile plans

Owned by TPG and powered by the Vodafone network, felix mobile is one of Australia’s newest MVNOs. Instead of offering a range of plans, felix has just a single option: a $35 per month plan with unlimited data. As you’d expect, there is a catch.

The plan is capped to speeds of 20Mbps. For comparison, 4G networks should easily be able to attain speeds of at least 50Mbps in metro areas.

20Mbps is still quite reasonable, however. It’s only a little bit slower than an NBN 25 connection and will be more than fast enough for most mobile activities, whether it’s streaming video on Netflix, downloading apps, and all your day-to-day tasks. The one area where 20Mbps could be a limit is you’re tethering to your phone on the reg.

If you’re not quite sure whether 20Mbps is fast enough but you’re intrigued by the prospect, felix has a seven-day happiness guarantee. If you decide the plan isn’t fast enough within your first week with felix, you can get a full refund.