Leading coverage on a budget: Best MVNOs on the Telstra network
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 lairy parachute pants, buy a less-than-smart phone that was roughly the size of a 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. Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best Telstra MVNOs worth your time and money depending on your usage needs.
1. Boost Mobile
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 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.
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.
2. Woolworths Mobile
Best value Telstra MVNO provider
Anybody looking for the most mobile for their money shouldn’t go past Woolworths Mobile Prepaid SIM Recharge options. Generally speaking, Woolworths 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 Mobile Prepaid 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 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 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 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 adds on international calls and text to selected countries. Pretty handy stuff if you’ve got the wanderlust.
How we chose our best picks
Best Telstra MVNO 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. 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 live-streaming 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.
Another big benefit of this carrier is unlimited international calls and texts to 29 selected countries, plus 30 minutes to what Lycamobile call their “Group A” countries OR 10 minutes to “Group B” countries.
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.
4. Woolworths Mobile
Best Telstra MVNO for Phone 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.
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.
Telstra Mobile plans
How do Telstra mobile plans compare with MVNOs?
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.
Do Telstra MVNOs offer 5G access?
Not yet but they will eventually.
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 fledgling 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 keep its claim as Australia’s largest mobile network.
Our best guess is that we’ll begin to see Telstra MVNOs offering limited 5G once the next generation network is further along.
Here are the most popular plans and 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 on the Telstra network over the last week.