Comparing mobile phone and broadband providers in Australia might seem overwhelming, with so many choices available. Whether you’re looking for the cheapest mobile phone plan, the best NBN provider, or just want to know what telecom options are available to you, read ob to learn more about broadband and mobile phone providers in Australia.
The Mobile Phone Network in Australia
Mobile phone coverage in Australia is tricky.
If you live in any of the major cities, you are likely to have great mobile phone coverage. However, for those living in rural and regional Australia, finding adequate mobile phone coverage can be tricky, if not impossible.
Before choosing a mobile phone plan, it’s useful to learn the difference between the different types of phone coverage in Australia and what phone coverage will work best for you.
The Mobile Network Operators in Australia: Vodafone, Optus, Telstra
Regardless of which phone company you have your mobile phone plan through, all mobile phone plans run on one of three mobile networks in Australia: Vodafone, Optus, or Telstra.
These companies are also known as phone carriers, as they provide mobile network coverage to other phone companies in Australia.
Therefore, Vodafone, Optus, and Telstra not only provide mobile network services, but also operate and manage the phone lines in Australia.
Telstra has the largest mobile network of all mobile providers in Australia, covering approximately 99.5% of the total Australian population.
Telstra currently offers the most established 5G network in Australia. However its only available in parts of the country. Regionally, Telstra has the best overall coverage and their 4GX and 4G Plus coverage hopes to extend rural and regional coverage in the future.
Optus comes in second for mobile network coverage on our list of mobile providers in Australia. The Optus network covers 98.5% of the Australian population including in rural and regional areas. Optus mobile is currently also the first home wireless broadband provider to offer 5G wireless broadband where available.
Vodafone is the smallest network provider, but also the newest of the three, and covers 96% of the Australian population. Vodafone has the the least amount of rural and regional coverage and slowest 5G broadband rollout of these three mobile provoiders.
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Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) in Australia
All other phone companies in Australia are known as Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs). MVNOs lease their wireless mobile phone and data services from one of the big three operators: Vodafone, Optus, or Telstra.
These phone companies purchase mobile network service at wholesale prices, and resell the service to consumers. Because of this, they can often offer cheaper rates than the big-name operators.
However, some MVNOs don’t get access to the “full” mobile network meaning slower speeds. While this shouldn’t be an issue for most Australians living in big cities, it can be more of a problem in rural areas where coverage is spotty or for those interested in the faster speed offered by 5G plans.
Below you can see a list of major mobile phone providers in Australia and the Mobile network their services run on:
Which Network Mobile Phone Providers Use in Australia
5G is in Australia, and network operators are slowly beginning to rollout 5G coverage in major cities.
5G is the next evolution for mobile phones, with major improvements including:
Faster networks speed over minimum 100Mbps
Better simultaneous connection
These speeds and faster connection mean that 5G is no longer just for mobile phones. 5G can now be used as an NBN alternative with home wireless broadband, or with self-driving vehicles.
Australia’s largest mobile network operators are already starting to roll out 5G in major cities and are including new 5G access with their mobile phone plans. If you’re interested in 5G, you can find 5G rollout maps for each network, with Optus currently offering the most 5G coverage so far.
Australia has moved to the NBN, with almost 100% coverage across the country, but what is NBN? How does it compare to older broadband choices? Learn about the NBN and the differences between broadband services below.
ADSL in Australia
ADSL was the traditional broadband service for most of the country, using the existing phone lines to deliver internet to millions of Australians.
ADSL, for a time, worked great, offering download speeds of up to 24Mbps. But, as technology improved, our need for faster internet grew. In 2020, NBN rolled out across Australia, making ADSL obsolete.
NBN Australia: What is the NBN?
For the last 10 years, NBNCo has been rolling out the National Broadband Network (NBN) across Australia. Instead of using the wires associated with ADSL, NBN uses cutting-edge fibre technology to connect to regional connection points (called nodes) and then connect that node to consumers’ homes through the existing copper wires.
Instead of the one download speed associated with ADSL, NBN gives customers the choice of download speeds. This means bigger households won’t have to worry about slower speeds when multiple devices are connected, while smaller households don’t need to pay for more than they actually need.
Since the NBN rollout has been completed, broadband providers no longer sell ADSL broadband plans. For most customers, NBN is a great option for reliable high-speed internet, no matter where in Australia they live. If you still have ADSL, it’s important to switch to a new NBN plan before you lose broadband access.
Rural or regional NBN isn’t just for the main cities. If you live in rural or regional Australia, you might get your NBN service from satellite NBN.
Home wireless broadband: An NBN alternative
Home wireless broadband is an internet alternative that uses the mobile broadband network to connect your home to the internet rather than traditional copper or fibre connections.
Using a modem very similar to an NBN modem, you can connect multiple devices including your mobile phone, laptop, computer, and TV to the internet. The only difference is that this internet is from either Vodafone, Optus, or Telstra rather than NBNCo and, unlike NBN, does not require special installation or set up, simply plug it in and go.
Home wireless broadband should not be confused with mobile broadband (also known as data-only mobile phone plans). Mobile broadband is when you receive a standalone SIM card that can be inserted into any mobile broadband-enabled device such as a mobile phone.
However with home wireless broadband, the SIM card is usually installed directly in the home wireless broadband modem which you can plug into a power source.
How to Choose the Right Mobile Phone Provider in Australia
Choosing the right mobile phone company in Australia depends on the plan you’re looking for.
While most of us are looking for the cheapest mobile phone plan available that will still meet our needs, it’s important to consider what’s included in your phone plan for the price.
If you need lots of mobile data, for example, consider also the cost per MB of data included in the plan whereas if you need lots of international minutes to call family and friends, you might consider a more expensive option if it has international calling.
CALL & TEXT:
If you frequently call and text friends, you’ll want to be sure that your phone plan includes unlimited call and text. Different plans might include unlimited standard calls, but require you to pay for mobile calls or national numbers, so check that your plan covers the types of calls you want to make.
How much data do you need on your phone? If you spend a lot of time on your phone out of the house, or use your phone as a mobile hotspot, you’ll probably want a mobile plan with a big data allowance.
Some mobile phone plans in Australia automatically suspend your data usage when you’ve gone over your allowance limit, while others will automatically charge you for each MB of data you’ve consumed once your allowance is used up. If you don’t want to be hit with bill shock, you might be better with a capped data allowance.
TYPE OF CONTRACT:
Mobile phone plans come with different types of contracts. While the more traditional mobile contract was a 12-month contract, many mobile phone providers in Australia are switching to month-to-month mobile plans with no lock-in contracts instead. This means you’re free to cancel or switch your plan at any time, without needing to worry about a cancellation fee.
PREPAID or POSTPAID:
Prepaid mobile plans mean you pay for your mobile phone service at the start of every month. Postpaid mobile plans mean you pay for the mobile phone service you used the previous month.
Most mobile phone plans in Australia run on a month-to-month expiry, so every 30 days you need to pay for your mobile service.
Some plans, instead, run every 28 days, meaning you have to pay for an additional 24 total days with your service. Certain prepaid mobile phone plans in Australia might also have a 7 or 10-day expiry, or be a long-expiry plan with 6 or 12 months of service.
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NBN is officially rolled out across Australia, meaning that all the traditional ADSL broadband connections have been phased out of Internet providers’ services. With NBN now universally available, it’s important to understand how to compare NBN services in Australia.
Internet speed is one of the most important factors when choosing a new broadband plan. This is especially true with NBN.
NBN service is divided into different speed standards, which correspond to the fastest possible download speeds you can achieve.
These are: NBN12, NBN25. NBN50, and NBN100. However, these are not the speeds you will actually achieve. Broadband providers also display their “typical evening speeds” which are the average download speeds during peak busy hours. The cost of your NBN plan is directly related to how fast the download speeds are, with faster plans costing more.
Discover your current broadband speed Take the Internet Speed Test to see how fast your broadband connection currently is, and learn ways to troubleshoot slow internet connections.
PHONE LINE INCLUDED:
Unlike traditional ADSL, NBN does not require an active phone line. However, if you’re someone who enjoys using the home phone, it might be worth considering an NBN plan with a phone line and voice add-on plan.
Likewise, if you don’t want a home phone service, you don’t need to select an NBN plan that has it included.
Most NBN plans come with unlimited data, particularly plans at faster NBN speeds. If you don’t require a lot of data, and rarely use the internet, you might choose a plan with 100GB or 500GB of data instead.
Most Internet providers give the choice of month-to-month or 12-month contracts. Oftentimes, choosing the month-to-month option will result in a higher upfront cost (either for set up, or an included modem) while these fees are waived if you choose a 12-month contract.
However, if you plan to only need your broadband service for a couple of months, these upfront costs might make more sense than paying a cancellation fee later down the line.
INCLUDED MODEM or B.Y.O.M. :
Some broadband providers allow you to bring your own modem (BYOM) when you sign up for their plan, while other Internet providers include their own (either included in your costs, as a rental, or for an additional upfront fee).
If you already have an NBN-ready modem, you might be able to use that, but make sure it’s properly set up for your connection. If you don’t already have a modem, make sure to read the fine print to see if there are any additional fees associated with getting one from your broadband provider.
Bigger internet providers will often let you bundle services with their NBN plans for slightly discounted rates. This might include a home phone add-on, a mobile phone plan, or entertainment services like Fetch TV.