Telstra Mobile Plans Review

02 February 2017

Telstra Mobile Plans Review

In every junior football match there is always one early bloomer who towers over the other kids. In the Australian telco landscape, Telstra is the early bloomer — palming off the competition and scoring more customers than its competitors — thanks to early development of its network.

Once a government owned entity, the foundations of the Telstra network were built with public money, giving Telstra an infrastructure advantage that it has maintained throughout the years. Optus and Vodafone have piled millions of dollars into their networks, but Telstra maintains a reputation for being the network with the farthest reach, making it the first or only choice for anyone living in a regional area.

Being ahead in network size gives Telstra the ability to invest in new technologies first, too. Whenever there is a faster network enhancement available, Telstra is working to roll it out and make it available.

The flip-side to this has always been that customers pay more to be a Telstra customer. In side-by-side comparisons Telstra is always more expensive or offers significant less value at the same price. We’re not just talking a few bucks here or there, Telstra plans can cost double what competitors charge. 

Telstra Breakdown

  • Impressive coverage
  • Full range of phones from the big brands
  • 4GX network is Australia's fastest
  • Data-free Apple Music streaming
  • No contract SIM Only plans can be good value
  • Prices that will make your wallet weep
  • Not all postpaid plans include unlimited calls
  • International roaming packs are confusing and expensive
Value for Money
Coverage & Speed

We've put together a checklist of features and options available on Telstra plans. Below is a snapshot of what is available but you'll find the full breakdown at the bottom of this page.

How we rate Telstra
Plan Features Good options, but fewer than competitors
Customer Service Full range of options
Coverage 99% coverage
Phone Range Excellent phone range

How Telstra compares on pricing

It would be too easy to say that Telstra is poor value for money at every turn, but that’s not exactly true. You would never call Telstra a price leader, but there are a few instances where its plan prices are on par with the other major providers.

The best example is the Telstra Go Mobile Plus Casual Plans at $50 and $70. With 5GB and 10GB data respectively, these plans are not far off the pace. The extra you might pay here seems like a worthwhile expense for the premium network coverage. Plus, Telstra tends to run regular promotions on these plans, usually with bonus data, so they are worth keeping an eye on.

As for standard contract phone plans and prepaid plans, Telstra typically isn’t the best option. Unless your budget stretches to about $100 per month, then you might not find a Telstra phone plan that meets your needs. And if you do, you’ll buy it with the knowledge that you could get more, for less, by choosing one of the other major telcos.

Telstra SIM Only Plan Comparison
Carrier Plan inclusions Pricing
Optus Unlimited Calls, 6GB Data $50/mo
Virgin Mobile Unlimited Calls, 4GB Data $50/mo
Vodafone Unlimited Calls, 8GB Data $50/mo
Telstra $1000 Call Credit, 5GB Data $50/mo

Telstra postpaid plans of $70 and over also include international calls to 10 countries. 

These countries include: Canada, China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, UK and USA.

How Much Should You Expect To Pay?
Prepaid From $10 Compare
No Contract/Monthly From $35 (500MB) Compare
Data Only SIMs From $15 (1GB) Compare

What to know about Telstra coverage

Telstra coverage map
Telstra Coverage Map

Telstra’s network has a well-earned reputation as being the one you choose if you are frequently outside the busy Australian cities. If you go camping a lot, or your work has you driving up and down the coast, then the Telstra network should keep you connected better than the others.

The 4GX network is also currently the fastest network, in that it is made up of the most advanced types of 4G technology and can reach higher peak speeds. But whether this translates into faster everyday speeds in the real world is another matter. It is very fast, but signal tracking services like OpenSignal have shown that Optus and Vodafone can be as fast, or faster, in the cities across the country.

The Telstra network isn’t impervious to network outages and breakdowns. In 2016, Telstra has four widely publicised, and embarrassing, national outages which really challenged the idea that it has a more reliable network than its competitors. 

What to keep in mind when comparing Telstra

  • Telstra Air - If you've not come across this before, Telstra Air is a public WiFi network that only Telstra customers can access. It is hard to put a dollar value on the inclusion of Telstra Air in postpaid plans, but if you are regularly in range of a connection then you could save a bunch of data each day by logging in.
  • Cheap Event Cinemas tickets - As part of every Telstra phone and internet plan, customers can take advantage of Telstra Thanks -- a collection of bonuses and freebies like pre-sale tickets to concerts and cheap admission to sports events. By far our favourite is cheap Event Cinema movie tickets: two discounted tickets that you can buy every day.
  • Keep an eye out for SIM Only contracts - Like Optus and Vodafone, Telstra also offer SIM Only plans on 12 month contracts, and while you might not love the idea of being locked into a plan, you'll find the deal is sweeten with more data or other extras which might make it worth your time.
WhistleOut Staff Review
Alex C.
Gadget and editorial expert
Telstra BYO phone $50 per month plan on a year-long contract with 10GB of data, and unlimited talk and text.
“If you've got the need for superfast 4G or spend time outside of Australia's capitals, Telstra is worth a look”

Why did you choose it?

I swapped to my $50 a month plan, because it was cheaper than the $70 per month plan I was on, but with the same inclusions. It meant signing a contract, but as a result, I also got six months of free Apple Music.

What has it been like?

While Telstra can be a bit pricier than the competition, I've got no complaints as to the service or reliability I've experience. All in all, a solid experience, and I'm not looking to change in a hurry.

What do you love about it?

I've found Telstra's network to be - for the most part - fast and reliable, and especially useful for those times I venture outside of Sydney but still want to stay connected. Unmetered Apple Music is also pretty handy.

What would you change?

Telstra's roaming rates are pretty brutal, especially when compared to Vodafone's $5 per day roaming. Ideally, I'd love to see something similar on Telstra, or even just a system that's a little more reasonable than the current travel pack offering. As it stands, whenever I'm overseas, I find purchasing a local SIM a much better option.

Who would you recommend this to?

If you've got the need for superfast 4G or spend time outside of Australia's capitals, Telstra is worth a look if you don’t mind paying a little bit extra. Still, it's best to try and keep your eyes out for a limited time deal, as that's when Telstra is at its most competitive.

Want to contact Telstra?
Twitter @Telstra
Sales or Service
13 22 00
Contact Page
Apps iPhone, Android

Beyond the facts and figures, you probably have questions about Telstra. Below is some of the questions we're asked most, but if you'd like to know something else, get in touch.

Questions we're asked about Telstra
Telstra owns and operates its own Australia-wide network. It is one of only three networks operating in Australia, next to those built by Telstra and Vodafone.
As with anything like this, the answer depends on where you use your phone. Many people living outside of the major cities will swear by Telstra coverage, will others who live in the cities may recognise that they have a choice of three strong networks.
Yes, Telstra has a huge range of phones to choose from from all the major brands. You can buy a new premium smartphone on contract, or a cheaper model with a prepaid SIM card.
Yes. You can always keep you number when moving to a new provider. No exceptions.
Telstra bills extra data usage at $10 per gigabyte on all postpaid plans. You don’t need to do anything to activate this, it will happen automatically.
Telstra SIM cards come in Mini SIM, micro SIM, and nano SIM. These options will fit into all phones from the last decade, or so.
No, Telstra switched off its 2G network in December, 2016. These days you need a 3G or 4G mobile phone handset to continue accessing the Telstra network.
If you are on a phone plan contract and you wish to leave, the early termination fee is calculated based on your plan and phone, and the amount of time left on the contract. If you use the Telstra 24x7 app you will be able to see what this would be in the 'My Plan' tab. Otherwise, you can call Telstra to ask.
Some of Telstra postpaid plans include calling minutes and text to numbers in 10 countries: China, India, UK, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, USA and Canada. Otherwise, the pay as you go rate varies from country to country. Check the Telstra website for full details for each country.
Roaming rates vary from country to country, but if you are a postpaid plan customer you can choose to a Travel Pass that is added to your account before you leave the country. This pass will give you data to use for a period of time that you choose. Read more about international roaming here.
How we rate Telstra

We've created a checklist of features to help benchmark what each provider offers its customers and you can can expect.

Auto data top-ups
Included international calls
On higher cost post paid plans
Plans with unlimited international calls
Included international SMS
International roaming option available
Included international roaming
On high contract plans
Bundled content subscriptions
Data-free media streaming
Data-free Apple Music
Roll-over data/credit
Some prepaid plans only
Unlimited on-net calls
4G network access
Automatic prepaid recharge
Rewards program
Long expiry prepaid - 6 months
Long expiry prepaid - 12 months
Discount for upfront purchase
No flagfall on prepaid plans
Student/Pensioner discounts
Data sharing
This checklist is created by the telco experts in the WhistleOut team and includes plan features available in market
Customer Forum or Blog
Twitter account
Manned Twitter account
Facebook account
Manned Facebook account
Brick & Mortar Stores for support
24 hours phone support
Usage monitoring apps
iOS and Android
% of Australian population covered 99%
4G network access
Number of phones 28
Phone Brands 7
iPhones available
Prepaid and Postpaid phones
Feature phones available

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