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What is unlimited data?

A guide to when data is limited, unlimited, endless, and the difference between all three.

Nathan Lawrence
Jul 16, 2021
Icon Time To Read4 min read

At first glance, the term ‘unlimited data’ is self-explanatory. It means there is no limit to the data you can use. Right? Well, kind of. It’s a lot more straightforward for finding the best NBN plan, wherein unlimited data means you don’t have to count a quota. Still, you may fall afoul of a provider’s fair-use policy if you get too greedy with the gigabytes.

Finding the best unlimited-data mobile plans is a little trickier. While other countries offer unlimited-data mobile plans, Australian telcos tend to treat data more like a finite resource that needs to be excavated. Data caps are the norm, but there is this odd thing called “endless data” to consider.

Do unlimited data mobile plans exist in Australia?

Unlimited data mobile plans do exist in Australia, but there are disclaimers. The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) considers unlimited data to refer to plans that have maximum speed potential. For mobile, this means other terms exist. Vodafone has “infinite” plans (more on them below) and then there’s Felix Mobile.

The telco made a name for itself when it launched with a single “endless data” mobile plans in November 2020. There was a catch, though. Initially, speeds were capped at a restrictive 5Mbps but that was soon upped to a more practical 20Mbps. You can check out the plan below.

For comparison, below is a list of popular Prepaid plans, most of which don’t have unlimited data, but all of which let you use at least 100GB of data per recharge.

Do Telstra, Optus or Vodafone have unlimited mobile data plans?

Following on from the trend above, big-name telcos Telstra, Optus and Vodafone technically have unlimited-data mobile plans, but not at the maximum available download speed. If, for instance, you were hoping for a max-speed 5G plan or even a 4G unlimited data plan from Telstra, Optus or Vodafone, it’s time to lower those expectations. That said, all three providers technically offer unlimited-data SIM Only plans, while Optus and Vodafone offer ways for Prepaid users to get in on the unlimited-data action.

Telstra unlimited mobile data plans

Telstra has three SIM Only plans, starting with the $58 Upfront Mobile Plan Basic and stretching up to the $89 Upfront Mobile Plan Premium.  Running with those examples, Telstra’s cheapest SIM Only plan comes with 40GB of 5G data and its most expensive SIM Only plan comes with 300GB of data on the Telstra 5G network. If you burn through either of those respective amounts, speeds are capped at 1.5Mbps for the duration of the month.

Here’s a look at all of Telstra’s endless-data mobile plans below.

Optus unlimited mobile data plans

Compared to Telstra, Optus offers five SIM Only plans. The Optus SIM Only options range from the $49 Small Optus Choice Plus Plan to the $89 Extra Large Optus Choice Plus Plan. For the cheaper plan, you get 30GB of data and the most expensive Optus plan comes with 360GB of data. All Optus SIM Only plans offer access to the Optus 5G network. While Optus used to automatically charge for extra data on its SIM Only plans, it now caps speeds at 1.5Mbps for the rest of your billing cycle.

You can see the four Optus SIM Only endless-data mobile plans below.

Optus unlimited-data day

Unlike Telstra and Vodafone, there’s also an unlimited-data day for Optus SIM Only and Prepaid customers. For $5 per day, Optus customers on eligible SIM Only and Prepaid plans can access max-speed data for 24 hours. If your plan is eligible, you’ll be able to add it via the My Optus app. Optus Choice, Optus One, Optus Family and Optus Kids plans are eligible for SIM Only services, while Prepaid Epic Data users with a $30 (or more) recharge can also access the unlimited-data day.

Vodafone unlimited mobile data plans

Vodafone has three SIM Only plans with what the telco used to call “infinite data”, ranging from the $45 Small SIM Only Plan to the $65 Large SIM Only Plan.

While Vodafone did offer a postpaid plan with true unlimited data for a time, this was recently dropped from the lineup. The carrier's most affordable postpaid plan now starts at $45 per month, up from $40 per month. Despite this, the amount of data you get with this plan remains the same at 40GB. Once you've used that data up, you'll still be connected but have your speed throttled to 2Mpbs.

Things work the same way with the $55 Medium SIM Only Plan and the $65 Large SIM Only Plan. The only difference here is that your excess data kicks in after 150GB and 300GB respectively. All Vodafone SIM Only plans also come with access to the Vodafone 5G network.

You can see all of these Vodafone SIM Only plans below.

Vodafone endless data Prepaid

If you sign up for one of Vodafone’s Prepaid Plus recharges, you can take advantage of infinite data capped at 1.5Mbps once you go over your 28-day max-speed allocation. You can see the four Vodafone Prepaid Plus Recharge plans below.

Home wireless unlimited data

For those who fancy Home Wireless instead of NBN, there are a couple of options. There’s the iiNet Home Wireless Liimitless plan or the Internode Home Wireless Unlimited plan, both of which are capped at download speeds of up to 20Mbps. You can see both plans below.

Unlimited data NBN plans

At the time of writing, there were more than 120 NBN plans in our comparison engine that include unlimited data, spread across all major speed tiers. This includes a mix of fixed-line NBN technologies to metro areas and Fixed Wireless NBN for rural and regional areas. Unlike the different terms for unlimited data in the mobile space, unlimited data for NBN connections means no download restrictions.

The only thing you may potentially run foul of is a fair-use policy, but providers don’t tend to be explicit with the exact amount of data you’d have to download or upload to get pinged. Anecdotally, as an avid gamer, movie and TV show streamer, as well as downloader of large files, a Telstra technician once told me that you’d have to be running a server that’s constantly downloading and/or uploading to run the risk of a provider getting upset with you for falling on the wrong side of the fair-use policy.

If you’re worried about how much data you use, you may find solace in the fact that one NBN user managed to download 23.59TB—that’s 23,590GB—in one month.

In terms of the specific plans, below is the most popular picks for NBN 12.

You can find the 10 most popular NBN 25 plans below.

The 10 most popular plans below are for the most popular NBN 50 speed tier.

Below is the 10 most popular NBN 100 plans for those who fancy their unlimited data at the fastest speed tier available to most homes.

If you’re in a home that’s connected to the NBN via FTTP or HFC, you may be interested in the 10 most popular NBN 250 plans below.

Finally, select HFC homes and FTTP abodes can have a look at the 10 most popular NBN 1000 plans below.

Nathan Lawrence
Written by
Nathan Lawrence
Nathan Lawrence has been banging out passionate tech and gaming words for more than 11 years. These days, you can find his work on outlets like IGN, STACK, Fandom, Red Bull and AusGamers. Nathan adores PC gaming and the proof of his first-person-shooter prowess is at the top of a Battlefield V scoreboard.

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