Beat the Telcos at their own game
Getting a good mobile phone or broadband deal isn’t rocket science, but it does take time and perseverance.
If you want a good mobile phone — or mobile broadband — deal, there’s two things you’ll need. The first is plenty of time, and the second is an eye for detail.
Where you live may impact on the range of choices you’ve got. Notably Three doesn’t have (or pretend to have) much in the way of penetration outside metropolitan areas, whereas Telstra sells itself on having coverage everywhere. No matter which mobile provider you opt for, even if it’s limited to a single choice, the range of plans on offer can be baffling.
Some offer “free” texts. Others offer time limited calling to specific numbers or mobiles on the same network. You might get a credit for bringing your own mobile phone, but not on every plan. On the mobile broadband side, it might seem on the surface that things are simpler, as you get sold a certain data allowance to use each month. Again, though, it’s worth digging deeper into the details, as the way you get charged for that data usage can heavily impact its overall value. As an example, at the time of writing, Optus’ pre-paid mobile broadband plans use 10MB of your allowance each and every time you log in, even if you only use a few kilobytes of data to check your mail server.
The trick to all of this is to employ that eye for detail to spot the gotchas that telcos love to sling in, and match that against your actual (or expected, if you’re a first time phone/mobile broadband user) usage patterns. If you’re a heavy texter, then the costs of texts are paramount, and the fact that the call flagfall might be twice that of other plans is of little concern. If data is all that matters to you, then the cost of adding data to a mobile plan as a bolt-on option — or its outright cost on a mobile USB modem — should be your key concern. No matter what though, spend time checking the fine print for any and all issues that will affect how you can use the service you’re paying for.
It’s also well worth checking if the telco in question offers business plans. You’ll need an ABN (Australian Business Number), and again some plans offer better or worse value. You may be able to claim your usage as a business expense, but even if that’s not feasible, if a given business plan offers better value, why not pursue it?