Best mobile providers on the Telstra network
For those looking for an alternative to the Big T, we’ll give you the lowdown on the best MVNOs on the Telstra network for your coverage, budget, data and phone bundle needs.
Gone are the days when one could pull on a pair of lairy parachute pants, buy a less-than-smart phone that was roughly the size of brick, and then decide on a carrier by flipping a coin that said Telstra on one side and Optus on the other. You’re spoiled for choice now, because small mobile service providers— or Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) — are everywhere in today’s telco landscape. The good news for you: these smaller, more versatile outfits can sometimes offer you the market’s best deals. If you know where to look…
So let’s dive right in and help you navigate the overwhelming amount of brand avenues laid out before you. Blow we’ve rounded up some of the best Telstra MVNOs worth your time and money depending on your usage needs. But first, here’s a list of every major mobile provider offering service on the Telstra network.
How we chose our best picks
We’re talking about all of the things that really matter to an avid mobile user. Stuff like coverage, data for dollar value and all those shiny extra plan benefits designed to lure you in. Typically the perks being dangled here include data rollover, data-free streaming (usually aimed at Netflix/Stan aficionados), no-contract plan options and more competitive approaches to better customer service and/or network coverage.
What is an MVNO anyway?
Currently, these are the major Telstra MVNOs that ought to be on your radar: ALDI Mobile, Belong, Boost Mobile, Lycamobile, numobile, Pennytel, Southern Phone, Tangerine Telecom, TeleChoice and Woolworths Mobile.
While Telstra’s mobile network is unrivaled in terms of coverage and speed, the biggest dog on the block is always in the position to charge you premium rates for their services (and obviously that’s not ideal if you’re trying to stay connected on a budget). Enter the smaller concern MVNOs who only use a marginally smaller part of Telstra’s 3G/4G networks (read: none of Telstra’s fandangle “4GX” network) and are therefore in a better position to give you a cheaper deal.
If you’re more than happy with a top ceiling of 200Mbps, or you don’t even own a handset with the technological means to go beyond that speed limit any way, why pay Telstra extra for a whizbang part of service you can’t or won’t be using? Just go with a cheaper MVNO that’s tailored to your more modest needs.
Best Telstra provider for coverage
Usually we’ll try to recommend a range of options to go with. However, there’s just no getting around the fact that Telstra’s most favoured MVNO, Boost Mobile, has access to the entire Telstra network and is therefore a no-brainer pick. If you want great network reliability as you go full whoop whoop – typically done by visiting the most incomprehensibly named towns Australia has to offer – then nobody is going to do it cheaper for you than Boost.
Best Telstra provider for value
Anybody looking for the most mobile for their money shouldn’t go past Woolworths Prepaid SIM Recharge options (for the record: the one we’re eyeballing at the time of writing is their 6GB $20 30 Days offer). Generally speaking, Woolworths’s prepaid plans tend to sit at the lower end of the market. It’s also common for them to come with the lovely no-strings attached dynamic of a no-lock-in contract – so if you do find you’re operating in some sort of Bermuda Triangle of bad coverage, you can go elsewhere without much of a worry. That, and you won’t be slapped with any of those nasty excess charges that tend to ambush people who use longer term agreements.
Woolworths Prepaids are also well known for unlimited standard talk and text which enable you to stay in close contact with your loved ones more often. It’s also worth noting that while the monthly data allotment (and bonus data) is comparatively smaller than some plans in this price band, it’s perfectly fine for casual Internet browsing purposes. Plus, anything you don’t use can be squirreled away for another month (in most cases the maximum size of your data larder is 200GB).
Alternative pick: If you wanted to go even cheaper while staying around the same level of value and coverage, then perhaps you belong with Belong. They usually keep a handful of great value sim-only options available for purchase. Many of these allow a bolt-on option that add on international calls and text to selected countries. Pretty handy stuff if you’ve got the wanderlust.
Best Telstra provider for big data
If you love data, take a look at Lycamobile. This MVNO has a history for providing vast chunks of gigabytes for not much money at all (currently we’re eyeballing a deal that’s $40 for 45GB). Even better, they’re often in the practice of giving new customers a sweeter introductory deal that halves the usual asking price (for the first charge at least). Needless to say, if you’re into livestreaming your exploits, or you just need that Netflix distraction to help you zone out of your daily commutes, Lycamobile ought to be your first port of call.
Other benefits of this carrier can include sizeable bonus gigabytes for fully committing to them by transferring your number across. You can also expect the usual unlimited calls and texting that will allow you to keep in touch with people (but also allow them to interrupt your binge watching sessions). Swings and roundabouts.
ALDImobile is not too much lower in our data-loving affections. Like Lycamobile, they’re good at luring new customers in with a whole bunch of bonus gigabytes for your first recharge with them (note: usually bound by an expiry date). Along with a few different “big data” options to choose from, you can bolster the unlimited international calls on offer by paying a little bit extra. We’re talking several hundred additional extra minutes of talk time, and the range of deal-eligible countries doubles.
Best Telstra provider for a new phone on a plan
Woolworths Mobile is head and shoulders above all other MVNOs when it comes to phone deals. That sheer buying power of being one of the biggest grocery chains in the country cannot be denied. And we’re not talking crappy off brand devices like “Sorny” or “iFruit” – Woolworths Mobile offer a wide range of apex brand, premium phones and devices to pick from, not to mention very generous data inclusions for them. Even better, if you find yourself wooed by another MVNO, Woolies’ plans are contract-free to allow you to cut and run without penalty. You can also opt to pay off your phone over the course of 24 or 36 month periods.
Alternative pick: If you are some sort of hard-liner Coles customer, or you want to get back at Woolies for subconsciously implanting their Fresh Food People jingle in your mind, you could look to numobile. This MVNO is well regarded for their nucertified (read: refurbished) device deals and plans at a bargain.