Our Complete Guide to Mobile Phone Service Providers & Mobile Broadband

Despite Australia being one of the largest countries in the world with a relatively low population density, we have somehow managed to have one of the best ranking mobile networks in the world, according to an analysis by OpenSignal. One of the ways that Australia has achieved this is by having healthy competition and investment in the mobile infrastructure industry. What this means is that consumers have a wide variety of choice when it comes to mobile phone and mobile broadband services, which can sometimes make the decision making process a little tricky.

 

Below we will detail some of our recommendations on mobile phone and broadband providers, as well as some handy information on making the process of switching as easy and as stress-free as possible, whilst keeping your important phone numbers in the process.

Coming Soon:

  1. More details on Mobile Broadband services.

Coverage

 

Perhaps the first thing anyone must do before they begin the search for a great value service for their needs is to check whether they are able to obtain coverage in their area.

There are three mobile network operators in Australia – Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. All other providers (eg. TPG mobile, Amaysim, iiNet mobile, etc)  are considered to be Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) that simply purchase service from primary mobile network operators, but they generally provide the same level of service. You can check coverage maps below:

  1. Telstra – https://www.telstra.com.au/coverage-networks/our-coverage

  2. Optus – https://www.optus.com.au/about/network/coverage

  3. Vodafone: https://www.vodafone.com.au/network/coverage-checker

 

For the most part, the coverage from an MVNO should be identical to the mobile network operator they use (eg. Amaysim has the same coverage as going with Optus directly), but sometimes there are some differences. Below are some examples:

 

  1. Telstra has two types of networks – Telstra Retail, which provides full coverage in remote areas, and Telstra Wholesale, which provides limited coverage in remote areas. The only MVNO to use Telstra Retail is Boost Mobile. Check coverage before you buy.

  2. Telstra, Optus and Vodafone often do not allow the newest and greatest features such as 5G connectivity, VoLTE (Voice over 4G LTE) or Wi-Fi calling to be used by MVNOs, but this is always changing and it’s worth checking the fine print if you happen to be in the small percentage of people where these features may be important.

 

It’s worth noting that the coverage of your area isn’t everything as well. It can be easy to have coverage but not have good mobile data speeds due to a variety of factors such as congestion, infrastructure capabilities and environmental factors. Telstra generally has the best coverage, especially in rural areas, but Optus has a surprisingly strong network in regional areas, often surpassing Telstra in many instances. Vodafone seem to have consistently inferior coverage compared to Telstra and Optus, but do have good performance in some metro areas. 

 

Quite often I will also suggest visiting the Radio Frequency National Site Archive (RFNSA) over at https://www.rfnsa.com.au/?first=1 to also take a look at the infrastructure near you. As a general rule of thumb, mobile towers that are closer will provide better signal, but be aware of landscapes that may impede signal transmission (eg. Large thick trees, mountain ranges, etc). This is especially relevant if you are setting up a fancy 4G mobile broadband setup equipped with directional antennas.

Recommended Providers and Service Plans for Mobile Phone Usage

 

For almost all scenarios, we highly recommend using a MVNO over one of the primary mobile network operators. In almost all scenarios, MVNOs will provide better value for money. We are not affiliated with any of the recommended providers below. The full list of providers can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Australian_mobile_virtual_network_operators

 

Before indulging, please keep in mind the following:

 

  1. It is almost never worth getting a new handset on a plan, especially on a long 24 or 36 month contract. You can purchase a handset separately and go with a cheaper no-contract SIM-only plan, which will almost always be more affordable over the long term. Contact us if you need a new handset, we have plenty of easy-to-use value options available!

  2. Whilst we will try to update this post regularly, this list will probably get outdated quickly considering the amount of competition and new plans becoming available on a regular basis. The general concepts should still apply, however.

  3. Many of the best value plans are long expiry plans, which means that the entire year is paid in advance. If you are not confident about the coverage in your area, you may want to go on a monthly plan first, or see if friends and neighbours can try the coverage in the area for you.

  4. Always read critical information summaries to ensure that you fully understand any additional rates or fees that may apply (eg. international calls, call forwarding, voicemail retrieval, etc).

 

Best Value Mobile Phone Plans on the Telstra Network

 

If you need the absolute best coverage, consider the following plans:



  1. Boost Mobile

 

  • Based on the Telstra Retail network for full coverage, including in remote areas. 

  • Best value plans are the 12 month expiry plans. Data rollover does apply to monthly plans as well.

  • Includes the ability to use VoLTE and Wi-Fi calling on supported handsets.

  • Unlimited calling includes call diversion.

  • SIM kits have free shipping on online orders, and are available in a variety of retail shops (eg. Auspost, Service stations)

 

  1. Woolworths Mobile

 

  • Based on the Telstra Wholesale network, which may result in limited remote area coverage.

  • Best value plans are the 180 day and 365 day expiry plans, but data rollover does apply to regular monthly plans as well.

  • Especially good value if you shop at Woolworths for food as well, as a 10% discount on groceries applies for Woolworths Mobile subscribers.

  • SIM Kits have free shipping on online orders or available in store.



  1. Aldi Mobile

 

  • Based on the Telstra Wholesale network, which may result in limited remote area coverage. 

  • Offers some good value monthly plans. There are also some family plans which may be a good choice for some families.

  • Offers a PAYG mobile service for users who use their mobile only for emergencies, or for a backup device.

  • SIM kits are only available in-store.

 

Best Value Mobile Phone Plans on the Optus or Vodafone Network

 

  1. Coles Mobile

 

  • Based on the Optus retail network. 

  • Best value plans are the long expiry plans – in particular, the $99 365 day plan, which works out to a mere $8.25 a month, with a total of 60GB to use for the year. The $150 120GB 365 day plan is also excellent value.

  • SIM kits have free shipping on online orders, or available in store.



  1. Amaysim 

 

  • Based on the Optus retail network. 

  • Best value plans are long expiry plans, although Amaysim does offer good value monthly plans as well. 

  • Offers a PAYG mobile service for users who use their mobile only for emergencies, or for a backup device.

 

  1. Vodafone

 

  • Based on the Vodafone retail network.

  • Most Vodafone plans are not terrifically good value, but there are few unique plans that may provide good value for heavy users who use huge amounts of data through a mobile device. They are one of the only providers to provide an “infinite” data on their mobile plans. In particular, the $55 a month plan includes 100GB of data at full speed, then after that the speed is reduced to 10mbps, which is still enough for most internet activities.

  • SIM kits have free shipping on online orders, or available in store.

 

Of course, there are many other providers out there with great deals, but these are good safe picks from reputable companies that have been around for a while. 

Porting from Your Old Provider – What You Need to Know

 

So you’ve decided to switch. Great! Assuming that you are wanting to keep your old mobile number, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind to ensure that the porting process is as smooth as possible.

 

Before you get started:

 

  1. Do not cancel your old service! You will lose your number if you do this – the new provider will do this for you once the port is complete.

  2. If you are currently using a Telstra postpaid service or plan switching to Boost Mobile, please review the section named “Telstra Postpaid Subscribers Switching to Boost Mobile” below, as there are special requirements for this specific action that need to be reviewed first.

  3. Ensure that you are not in a contract with your current provider. This should be as easy as logging into the online portal via your provider, or contacting them. 

  4. Ensure that your handset is not locked to a specific provider. This is somewhat rare these days, but some entry-level prepaid devices do still come locked. For devices locked to Telstra, they will usually work without issues with Telstra Retail providers (eg. Boost), but not Telstra wholesale (eg. Aldi Mobile). Devices locked to Optus or Vodafone will usually work with MVNOs that use that network.

  5. Ensure that you have a recent invoice from your current service provider. You will need details such as account numbers in order to port your mobile number to a new provider. If your current provider has any old or incorrect information (such as your name or date of birth) this must be corrected before porting to avoid issues.

  6. Ensure that you’ve checked your coverage in your area (see above).

  7. Wherever possible, try to avoid doing number porting on a Thursday or Friday. In the rare event that there is a problem, you may find that there are limited staff to deal with issues over the weekend.

 

Best Practices Process for Porting Your Mobile Phone Service:

 

  1. Either purchase your new SIM pack in person, or online via your preferred provider’s online store.

  2. Open the SIM pack and review the instructions to activate your service and port your existing number. Do not install the SIM card yet.

  3. Visit the activation page for your provider and fill in the details required. You will be asked for details such as the SIM card serial number, contact details and address, date of birth, drivers licence or passport number, account number for previous provider, and billing information.

  4. Double check the details before submitting. If there are any typos or errors, your port may be rejected.

  5. Submit the activation request. You should receive an SMS asking you to confirm your request to port your service.

  6. Wait until your old service stops working – it usually takes anywhere between 10 minutes and 2 days to complete the port. In the meantime, download the app for your provider from either the Apple App Store for iPhones, or the Google Play Store for Android devices. Just do a search for the name of your service provider and you should find an app for it. This will be handy if you want to manage your new service or check your data usage.

  7. Once your old service stops working (it should show that you no longer have signal and are unable to make calls), power off your device and then remove the SIM. Most modern devices utilise a SIM tray on the side of the device – simply insert a SIM removal tool (straightened paperclip works in a pinch) into the release hole to pop out the tray and release the SIM.

  8. Once the new SIM has been installed, power on the device. Your new service should be active! Now is a good time to test that you’re able to make calls and send picture messages. If you are using an Android device, you should also take a moment to setup your mobile data usage warnings in settings (some devices use a separate “security” app for this functionality), particularly if you want to stay disciplined on a long-expiry plan. 

  9. You’re done!

 

Telstra Postpaid Subscribers Switching to Boost Mobile

 

This section only applies to subscribers on Telstra postpaid (Prepaid users are not affected) and have decided to select Boost Mobile as your provider. If this is not your situation, you can skip to the next section.

 

Due to some internal limitations on the Telstra postpaid system and Boost Mobile’s access to the Telstra retail network, there are a couple of extra steps required. Thankfully the process is smooth, and there are two ways to deal with this.

 

Method 1 – Perform a “Double Port”:

 

Due to the difficulties in contacting Telstra at the moment (at least at the time of writing in November 2020), it’s often easier to port to any other provider first, and then try to port to Boost Mobile. You can select any provider for this as it will be only temporary (just make sure you can get signal in your area at least), but we often recommend either Amaysim with their $3 SIM deal, or Aldi Mobile with their $5 PAYG SIM deal. Simply purchase a SIM pack, activate the service using the method described above, wait until it is fully functional and then repeat the process for moving to Boost Mobile.

 

Method 2 – Contact Telstra and Convert your Account to Postpaid:

 

This method may be more straightforward in the future, but right now it can be difficult to get onto a service representative that knows what they are doing. If you do attempt this, go to the Telstra Contact Us Page and use the Live Chat feature. Initially, you will be connected with Telstra’s frustratingly-limited “digital assistant” – simply ask to “Connect me with a real human” and in theory, they will be able to get a real person on the chat. This works best during work hours. When chatting to the representative, tell them the following:

  1. You are moving to Boost Mobile and you are required to convert your postpaid mobile service to prepaid for the port to complete.

  2. You are not interested in any “special deals” that Telstra can offer

  3. Do not add any prepaid credit to the prepaid service

 

The representative will inform you when the account is converted, however it usually takes a while to “kick in”. Since the account will have no credit, the easiest way to check if the process has actually completed is to try to make a call. If you hear a message saying that you have no credit, your service has successfully converted to a prepaid service. Alternatively, you can log into your Telstra account at telstra.com.au and check if the details of your service indicate that you are now on a prepaid service.

 

Once it has been confirmed that your Telstra service has been converted from postpaid to prepaid, you should be OK to now port your service to Boost Mobile.