Prepaid, the state of play

What seems like years ago now I joined up to an excellent mobile service called “Kogan Mobile”. For those that remember, this was a 5gb unlimited no frills plan for around $40/m. Kogan shook up the market and Telstra along with it. This mobile disruption was well overdue and 10s of thousands flocked to change over to the news service. Finally I had the freedom to use my android smart phone to the fullest. At the time I caught 1.5hrs of public transport to and from work and I felt I could finally flex my data – YouTube, Spotify, streaming anime & tv shows…. Life was grand. Then, as far as I know (who knows what really went down), Telstra kicked up a stink and threw Kogan and its customers into a legal loophole that shut down the service. Now that’s not why we are here, what I wish to discuss with you is what happen post-Kogan, what’s available*, or I should say “Not available”, in the this pre-paid void.

*Pre-Paid Comparison chart included.

Kogan was on the 3g Telstra network and was very reliable and fast. I had convinced about 20+ people to move to the Kogan service so I felt it was up to me to find a new telco for my flock of mobile followers. I stumbled across Aldi Mobile who had put their hand up to take on the misplaced Kogan customers to a similar plan, salvation! I couldn’t have purchased the sim cards and get my number (which I’ve had all my mobile life) fast enough. So back on the train, YouTube, Spotify, Streaming…. Life’s good, disruption over, for now.

A few month after this, Aldi started changing it services, dropping data (3gb,2gb and finally to 1gb), and moved from a unlimited (with daily limits), to a straight credit plan. It would seem every month another change would occur, the Aldi plans are just not competitive anymore. I’d love to know if its Telstra Wholesale, or Aldi making the changes (if anyone has details on this please contact me). My colleagues on Telstra post-paid would keep telling me, “move back to a plan and be done with it.” No!, I like my freedom, and don’t feel comfortable signing a 2yr contract with little data at ridiculous pricing. Once you’ve had 5gb@$40, you’ll never go back.

Since the major changes to Aldi, I’ve move to the Sunshine Coast and don’t use my mobile much off Wi-Fi so I was blissfully unaware of the final nail in the Aldi coffin, data sessions. I convinced a friend to move to Aldi from Optus and after a few days complained that her data had run out. I put it down to auto-syncing and updating with her new phone. She recharged the data on her plan, turned off auto app syncing and after a few days, same issue. After checking the fine print of the data usage with Aldi, I found this: Important – Data is charged per MB which means the minimum amount of data you’ll consume in each data session is 1MB. Now this unsettled me and I had a new quest to find a better pre-paid provider, which after some research (see table after the break) resulted in near same results across the board.

“What does this type of data session means is you?” Glad you asked! With your 1gb you have a minimum of 1024x 1mb sessions. Every time you check any internet application, email, Facebook or twitter while on your mobile the data taken off your plan at a minimum of 1mb for each session, no matter how small the data session was. Also if you have you phone set on “sync apps” which means your phone is checking your installed apps, games, notifications, Facebook, Instagram etc it will use 1mb for each. As you can imagine this will very quickly can chew through your data. With the way that we use smartphones and near every application gives notifications and wants your attention, it’ll only get worse. If you react to every notification, and have auto-syncing, or addicted to Facebook, then I would serious consider the plan you move to. If I could ask one thing from the telcos it’s this, “Please increase the data caps, thanks”.

To help you wade through the options I’ve created the table. It contains all the useful data that one would need to make an informed decision when choosing a provider. I’ve detailed the data session rate and pulled apart credit plans and differentiated with the actual “Unlimited” plans, detailing the credit and rates.

Pre-Paid summary:

it would seem that Aldi is now not the best value pre-paid provider any longer. Vodafone/virgin has the best cost/data when you consider the data sessions. Its highly likely that you’ll get more “data for your buck” then a cheaper plan from another provider depending on how to use your phone. Telstra is also on the same “as-you-go” data session, however their pricing is through the roof. If you get bad reception with Vodafone or Optus, then I’d consider Boost, over Aldi, who are also on the Telstra 3g network. Also if overseas calls are important check out Lebara who have included unlimited overseas calls to some countries.

Other tid-bits:

  • Don’t even worry about 4g, you can download 1gb in about 25seconds in the city… what use is that when you only have 1gb of data, 3g is fine and will, in most cases be faster than your home ADSL.
  • In the event that the company changes the plan the auto recharge usually gets turned off , and you need to agree to the new pricing structure. This is what happened with Kogan and Aldi. However each company is different. For example Boost Mobile says they can change the rates, data or anything else without notifying its customers. If you are worried, ask them.
  • If you don’t use much data, there are better deals on the sites below.
  • Please note, not all the plans were compared, just the “as close to unlimited” pre-paid options I could find.
  • 1gb=1024mb, and 1024kb=1mb, so the 1kb plans are better for you if you constantly check your phone
  • Figures below are current as of 23rd August 2014 (let me know if you find a change)

Feel free to share, leave your feedback or hit up the comments field below to share your experiences. I’d love to hear from you!

Pre-Paid Comparison Chart

Network Carrier Data session Plan Data Calls Call rate SMS Costs Auto top-up* Expiry
Optus Optus 1mb monthly 2-5gb unlimited na unlimited $45 – 2gb unknown 45days
$60 – 5gb
Aldi Telstra 3g 1mb XL 1gb 1250 min 10c/min 2200 $35 YES 30days
+$10 for an extra gb when you hit 70%
Telstra Telstra 4g 1kb “As you go” Freedom 600mb-800mb $500-$1000 89c/m 29c/sms $40 – 600mb yes 28days
+39c connection $50- 800mb
Vodafone Vodafone 4g 1kb “As you go” $40 1gb $750 90c/m unlimited $40/m yes 28days
+40c connection
Virgin Vodafone 4g 1kb “As you go” $49 1gb $900 +$50 extra for your first four recharges 90c/m 25c/sms $49/month unknown 1month
+40c connection
Lebara Vodafone 1mb Unlimited 2gb Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited $49.90 YES 30days
Yatango Optus 3g 1mb Limitless 1gb-10gb unlimited na unlimited $45 – 1gb unknown 1month
$93 – 5gb
$133 – 10gb
Asaysim Optus 3g 1mb Unlimited 5gb Unlimited na Unlimited $44.90 unknown 1month
(1st Sept
Boost Telstra 3g 1mb UNLTD 2gb Unlimited na Unlimited $40/month Yes 30days

*Auto-top up: every cycleit will automatically recharge your phone plan.


2 thoughts on “Prepaid, the state of play

  1. Ah, this explains a lot.. I remember reading about data sessions on some other plans but at the time Aldi’s didn’t seem so bad. I’ll have to let the parents know so they can look at changing their plans.


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