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Telstra prices at a premium, now more than ever

  • Telstra's phone plan prices climbing steadily higher
  • Downloading data on Telstra network 34% more expensive
  • When should you sign up with Telstra?
Written by Mikaella Clements

Telstra's mobile plan prices have been climbing steadily since May 2011, according to recent analysis of price changes.

Always known for their high prices, the last few months have seen a distinctive rise in Telstra's already steep call charges. It's likely that most of these changes are a way to justify and support Telstra's further investment in their 4G network, as a Telstra spokeswoman has said that the changes in price and data limits have been done to help "maintain investment in our network so customers can continue to enjoy the speeds and reliability they've come to expect".




The result, though, is some staggering figures when we compare Telstra plans from the past and offerings from other providers. An entry level Telstra smartphone plan is now $60 – it used to be $49. Handset subsidies have been cut by $5 per month, and the cost of downloading data on Telstra's network is now around 34 per cent higher than on Optus or Vodafone's network, while voice calls are around 15 per cent higher.

It's not new information that Telstra's prices are much more expensive than other providers. However, looking at it in this light, perhaps it's time to consider whether or not buying into Telstra is still worth it. After all, Telstra plans are priced highly enough now that every customer who buys into them – and there are lot, with more than 2.5 million customers added over the last 18 months, and an apparent 300,000 customers now on 4G devices since the launch of the 4G network last September – must be aware that they are investing not just in a product but in an infrastructure.

Telstra chief executive David Thodey seems unconcerned by the lower prices available, saying: "Should there be a price war I think we'll continue to be very focused on why people come to us – the coverage of the network, the strength, the great wireless data speeds – and we'll respond accordingly. We've always said we want to have competitive offers in the market. We never said we'll be the cheapest."

Let's take a look at that element that Telstra can use to justify its price changes and decide whether the price of a Telstra plan is, indeed, worth the use of the Telstra network.

Telstra network advantage one: speed

Let's face it: for the most part, when Telstra are talking about the high speeds available on their network, it's a not-so-subtle reminder that as of yet they're the only provider who can offer you a 4G connection.

And yet the 4G network is thus far exciting but limited. It's only available in the CBD of Melbourne, Brisbane, and Sydney, along with selected airports and a few other isolated areas. The devices that can access it well are also limited, and as of yet there are not enough people onboard to be sure about just how fast the 4G network would be when being accessed by a huge stream of traffic like the 3G networks receive.

4G on its own is not sufficient motivation to join Telstra. It's simply not widely available enough to be a secure reason to sign a 24 month contract – and honestly, it will probably be more important for those who have to rely on slow 3G mobile broadband connections, rather than those who want fast internet on their phone. You can always wait until you get home if you have any internet-heavy tasks to do, where both your connection speed and reliability and your data quota will be much more supportive.

In general, though, you might believe that Telstra's mobile network will give you faster speeds than Optus and Vodafone's networks and their assorted resellers. This is possible. However, in general, mobile network speeds are such a difficult thing to predict that I would suggest wariness before signing up with a provider whose "speed is better". Your mobile network speeds can be impacted by your location, your hardware and software, the environment around you (e.g. if there are any buildings or trees between you and the mobile tower), the amount of other people online at the same time, the time of day, and even the weather. This means that there's no real way to be sure of the connection speed you'll get with a mobile broadband connection, and it's a variable experience that will differ for everyone.

So, is it worth signing up with Telstra's network for their speed? Very probably not.

Telstra network advantage two: coverage

It's undeniable that Telstra's mobile network's range and coverage is superior to both Optus and Vodafone, most noticeably in rural and regional areas. Telstra's Next G cells in remote and coastal regions in Australia have had power boosts that have carried their range from 50 kilometres to 200 kilometres. Telstra has over 5000 antennas, and provide service in some of the most remote areas in Australia.

This means that if you're in a remote or regional area, you might find that Telstra simply are the best provider for your mobile, whether because they work best or because they are the only provider that works at all. In this way, Telstra's prices are definitely worth the service you'll be getting – high prices for a service that work are always better than  lower prices for a product that can't do what you want it to.

Should I sign up with Telstra?

Telstra's prices make this a dilemma, but in the end it's a simple enough solution.

Are you in a rural or regional area where you cannot get coverage from the Optus or Vodafone network, or cannot get very good coverage? Go with Telstra.

Are you in a metropolitan area, or an area where you have had success with the Optus or Vodafone network in the past? Go with Optus, Vodafone, or one of their resellers. You'll have more choice when it comes to plans, make much greater savings, and be getting a product that will ultimately be mostly similar to Telstra's. Any speed boosts on Telstra's network may be brought down by the amount of customers they generally have; if you're in a metropolitan area, you have the pick of all the providers, and you may as well take advantage of some of the competitive and cheapest plans.

Get started by calling one of the following providers to hear about their great offers:

Amaysim: 1300 791 895
Optus: 1300 302 412
Dodo: 1300 301 550

Or call us at Compare Mobile Plans on 1300 850 518 to get help finding the best plan for you.


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