Is Telstra’s Budget Brand Actually Worth It?

Is Telstra’s Budget Brand Actually Worth It?
Image: Belong
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You may not know it, but Belong is quite literally budget Telstra. Big T runs Belong as its discount mobile and internet brand, and for the most part, undercuts its mainline product. 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 budget options can hold up to what you get with Telstra proper.

To help, we’re going to look at how the pair compare on mobile broadband plans, which Belong just announced, as well as mobile and NBN plans.

Telstra vs. Belong: Mobile Broadband Plans

To start, we’re going to look at how Belong’s brand new mobile broadband options compare to that of its parent company.

Both Telstra and Belong’s cheapest mobile broadband plans start at $15 per month, but the data allowances couldn’t be less similar. On Telstra, you’ll get just 5GB per month, but on Belong, you’ll get 20GB.

On the other end of the pricing spectrum, Belong will sell you a 500GB plan for $70 per month. Telstra has a slightly smaller 400GB plan for $75 per month for your first year, and $85 per month thereafter.

Belong’s mobile broadband plans include data gifting, which means you can send unused data to any other Belong mobile customer, in 1GB increments. Telstra’s mobile broadband plans have data sharing

Both Belong and Telstra mobile broadband plans are contract-free.

While Belong mobile broadband plans are powered by Telstra, 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 now reaches 99.5 per cent. This can impact coverage in rural and regional areas.

Here’s how the full Telstra network compares to Belong.

Belong currently doesn’t have access to Telstra’s 5G network, but Telstra only offers 5G connectivity on its two most expensive mobile broadband plans.

Telstra vs. Belong: Mobile plans

Now, good old fashioned mobile; let’s look at how Diet Telstra compares to Big T itself. Here’s every Telstra and Belong SIM-only plans, in order of price:

As you can see, Belong’s most expensive plan is more affordable than Telstra’s cheapest. With Belong, plans start at $25 per month for 20GB and max out at $45 per month with 80GB. On Telstra, you’re looking at least $55 per month for a 40GB plan.

Belong’s plans are very no frills when compared to Telstra’s. The only perks you get are data rollover and the ability to gift data to any other Belong customer. If you’ve got friends and family overseas, You can add unlimited international talk and text to 30 countries to any plan for a further $5 per month.

Telstra’s plans include 30 minutes of international standard international calls to any country out of the box, and unlimited international text. You can also purchase a calling pack if you need extra minutes. You can also share your data with any other Upfront plan on your account.

You won’t pay excess data charges on either provider. If you go over your data on Belong, you’ll be capped to speeds of 64kbps for the remainder of the month. If you’d like performance faster than dial-up, you can pay $10 for a further 5GB. On Telstra, you’ll be capped to a much more reasonable 1.5Mbps.

One big difference is Belong is a SIM-only provider, which means you already need to have your own phone you’re happy with. On the other hand, Telstra also lets you buy a phone on a plan. Here’s a selection of popular devices currently available through Telstra:

Lastly, here’s how Belong and Telstra’s plans compare to a few other postpaid providers powered by the Telstra network:

Telstra vs. Belong: NBN plans

To start, here’s every Telstra and Belong NBN plan, ordered by price.

Unsurprisingly, Belong comes in much cheaper than Telstra. $60 per month gets you Belong’s NBN 25 plan. For comparison, Telstra’s cheapest NBN plan is an NBN 25 option for $80 per month. Both report typical evening speeds of 25Mbps.

Both plans are contract-free. Belong will typically charge $60 for a modem if you need one, but you can bring your own instead. On Telstra, you’ll get a third-generation Smart Modem at no cost, but you’ll need to return it if you leave within your first two years. If you fail to do so, you’ll be hit with a $200 fee.

This trend continues as we go up in speed tiers. You can get Belong’s NBN 50 plan for $70 per month for your first year (and $70 per month thereafter), while Telstra’s will set you back $95. Telstra reports typical evening speeds of 50Mbps on NBN 50 plans, while Belong is a bit slower at 48Mbps.

Similar holds true for NBN 100 plans. On Belong, you’ll pay $75 per month for your first six months and $95 per month thereafter. On Telstra, you can get your first month for $1, and you’ll then pay $110 per month. Belong reports typical evening speeds of 95Mbps, while Telstra reports typical evening speeds of 100.

Given Telstra’s premium pricing, you can expect a few bonuses with its NBN plans. All plans with come with a three-month free subscription to Binge, you’ll get a modem with 4G backup in the event your NBN goes down (with download speeds of up to 25Mbps), and the ability to get faster plans like NBN 250. Telstra does not currently offer NBN 1000 plans as part of its Upfront range, but plans to bring them back.

These faster plans are only available to certain NBN premises, however. All FTTP connections can get either an NBN 250 or NBN 1000 plan. All HFC customers can get an NBN 250 plan, while about 95 per cent can now get NBN 1000. No other connection type can currently get an NBN plan faster than NBN 100.

Belong doesn’t do much in terms of extras, but you’ll get a SIM with $80 of mobile credit if you always want to swap your phone plan to Belong.

Lastly, here’s how Belong and Telstra’s NBN 50 plans compare to a few other popular providers:

Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website. We’ve updated this article since it was first published and all prices are accurate.