The best providers on the Telstra network
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For those looking for an alternative to the Big T, we’ll give you the lowdown on the best mobile providers 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 parachute pants, buy a less-than-smart phone that was roughly the size of a brick, and 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. Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best Telstra MVNOs worth your time and money depending on your usage needs. In the meantime, take a look at the most popular plans currently available on the Telstra network.
Best Telstra MVNO 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 Boost Mobile is the only MVNO with access to the entire Telstra network (with the exception of Telstra 5G) and therefore a no-brainer pick. If you want great network reliability as you trek it around our great sunburnt land, then nobody is going to do it cheaper for you than Boost.
What is an MVNO anyway?
Currently, these are the major Telstra MVNOs that ought to be on your radar: ALDI Mobile, Belong, Boost Mobile, CMobile, Lycamobile, MATE Mobile, numobile, Pennytel, Southern Phone, Tangerine Telecom and Woolworths Mobile.
While Telstra’s mobile network is unrivalled 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 fandangled “4GX” or 5G 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 anyway, why pay Telstra extra for a part of the service you can’t or won’t be using? Just go with a cheaper MVNO that’s tailored to your more modest needs.
Best value Telstra MVNO provider
Anybody looking for the most mobile for their money shouldn’t go past Woolworths Mobile‘s budget-friendly options. Generally speaking, Woolworths 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 Mobile plans are also well known for one of the best provider perks available: 10% off one Woolies shop every month. Used properly, it could mean you’re saving the entire cost of your phone plan.
It’s also worth noting that while the monthly data allotment (and bonus data) is slightly 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 squirrelled away for another month (in most cases the maximum size of your data larder is 200GB).
If you wanted to go even cheaper while staying around the same level of value and coverage, then perhaps you’d be best off with Pennytel. They usually keep a handful of great value sim-only options available for purchase, offering unlimited calls and texts to 15 selected countries and great data for your dollar with its two top plans, the Large 18GB and Extra Large 30GB.
How we chose our best picks
Best Telstra MVNO for Big Data
If you love data, take a look at Belong. This MVNO has a history for providing vast chunks of gigabytes for not much money at all. If you’re into live-streaming your exploits, or you just need that Netflix distraction to help you zone out of your daily commute, Belong ought to be your first port of call.
Another big benefit of this carrier is unlimited data banking, so if you don’t use all that juicy data, you can save as much of it as you like for a rainy day.
Lycamobile is not too much lower in our data-loving affections. They’re good at luring new customers in with a whole bunch of bonus gigabytes for your first recharge with them (although these are usually bound by an expiry date). Along with a few different “big data” options to choose from, you also get unlimited international calls to up to 53 countries on most of their Unlimited plans.
Best Telstra MVNO for handset bundles
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 offers 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.
Check out the most popular Woolworths Mobile phone bundles below.
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. Check out the most popular handsets below.
How do Telstra’s mobile plans compare?
At the end of the day, if there’s a particular handset you want to bundle with your plan (say the latest iPhone), then your only choice will often be Telstra itself. To be fair, Telstra’s prices aren’t nearly as exorbitant as they once were and the amount of perks and bonuses you get as a Telstra customer tend to make up for the premium plan pricing.
If none of the MVNOs suit your smartphone needs, take a look at the most popular Telstra phone plans below.
Telstra MVNO coverage
You might be wondering if there’s much of a difference between coverage for Telstra customers and customers with other providers on the Telstra network. The answer is yes, but it’s such a small difference that it only affects a small number of the population.
The Telstra 4GX network is the largest mobile network in Australia, reaching 99.4% of the Australian population. The Telstra wholesale network is a portion of that network that’s available to MVNOs and it reaches 97.9% of Australians. It’s a small difference in percentages but still somewhere in the ballpark of 380,000 Australians. With that said, the Telstra wholesale network is still larger than the Optus and Vodafone networks. So if you’re covered with Telstra, there’s a strong chance you’ll get reception with a Telstra MVNO. If you’re worried about switching to a Telstra MVNO, you can always check your address in the Telstra wholesale network coverage map for a bit of peace of mind.
Here’s how the two compare.
Do providers on the Telstra network offer 5G access?
Rival telco Optus has extended the 5G olive branch to MVNO Spintel but Telstra hasn’t announced any plans to give its MVNO partners access to its growing 5G network. There’s no doubt it will eventually, but it’s likely to be in a limited capacity. With the exception of Boost, Telstra MVNOs have access to the Telstra Wholesale Network, a slightly smaller network that allows Telstra to keep its claim as Australia’s largest mobile network.
Our best guess is that we’ll begin to see providers on the Telstra network offering limited 5G once the next-generation network is further along.
Most popular plans by providers on the Telstra network
So those are our picks for Telstra MVNOs, but if you want to see what everyone else is signing up for, take a look at this list of the most popular plans from providers on the Telstra network over the last week.