Now that formerly broadband-only provider Belong has moved into the mobile services market, discerning Aussies can sign on for Telstra coverage without Telstra prices. But if you want to get the most out of your phone plan, you may be wondering whether Belong's cheaper options can really rival what you'll get from Telstra.
As Belong is actually owned by Telstra, going with either company is a win for Australia's biggest telco. But if you want to make sure you've picked the plan that's right for you, we've compared both providers below.
Right now, Belong only offers customers two data options: 5GB (for $25 per month), or 15GB (priced at $40 per month). These rates only include the cost of your data and receiving calls and texts; if you'd like to make calls and send SMS, you can add unlimited national calls and text for $5 per month (and unlimited national and international for $10). So, 5GB of data, plus unlimited national calls and texts, comes to $30 per month in total.
If neither of the above data options is the right fit for you, Telstra's postpaid and prepaid plan data ranges from 100MB per $5 recharge, up to 100GB for $199 per month on its Premium postpaid plans. There's also data-free prepaid options, but customers opting for postpaid will pay a minimum of $39 monthly for 2GB of data, plus $500 of call and text value.
Free stuff and extras
Belong offers great plan value and features, but no freebies so far.
If you're on a Pre-Paid Extra or postpaid Telstra plan, you'll get a bunch of free stuff thrown in. All plans include live, data-free streaming of every AFL, NRL and Australian netball game, plus data-free music streaming (and a free six-month subscription) from Apple Music.
Customers will also receive 200GB of free OneDrive cloud storage, plus free WiFi hotspot use in Australia and overseas on the Telstra Air and Fon Hotspots networks. Postpaid users can also enjoy two free new release rentals from BigPond Movies in the first month after registering.
If you're signing up for a two-year mobile plan, or a 12-month SIM-only deal, you can also claim a bonus one-year Foxtel Now subscription. The offer applies to new customers on Telstra's L, XL, XXL and Premium postpaid plans, and includes up to three 12-month Foxtel Now Starter Pack subscriptions (depending on your choice of Telstra plan).
Data banking and gifting
If your data use tends to vary from month-to-month, Belong's plans allows customers to roll over ('bank') unused megabytes. Whatever data you don't use each month can be stored away for future use, and customers can bank unlimited gigabytes for as long as they wish (but will lose all banked data if a payment is more than 25 days overdue).
In addition to banking away unused data for your own personal use, you can also donate it to fellow Belong customers through Data Gifting. If you've got data to spare, you can gift it to any active Belong user in increments of 1GB, provided your own account has at least 1GB of data remaining on your current billing cycle.
Customers on postpaid plans can't roll over any unused data, but the feature is available on Telstra's Pre-Paid Extra plans. You can bank up to 50GB of unused data, provided you recharge your plan before its expiry date; any data remaining at the time of recharge will be automatically moved to your bank.
Recharges must be a minimum of $30 to qualify, and you'll need to have an active recharge to access any Data Bank megabytes. Your stored away data doesn't expire unless you cancel your service, or switch to another postpaid or prepaid option.
Fortunately, if you do go over your monthly data allowance on Belong, you won't be charged surprise extra data costs; instead, your service will be throttled (slowed) for the remainder of your billing cycle. However, you can buy more high-speed data at any time, with an extra 2GB of data available for $10.
Telstra, on the other hand, will automatically add extra data to your plan (and bill you for it) the moment you exceed your monthly allowance. This additional data is charged at $10 per gigabyte - so not only does Belong offer protection against unexpected bill charges, you'll also get twice as much extra data for your money.
All of Belong's newly-announced plans feature no lock-in contracts. As they're SIM only, you'll need to provide your own unlocked phone, but you're free to switch plans on a month-to-month basis, or leave at any time without penalty.
Whether you're trapped on your Telstra plan depends on which service option you sign up for. The telco does offer BYO, contract-free plans, or terms of 12 or 24 months. Generally, if you decide to commit to one or two years with Telstra, you'll get more data and plan inclusions for your money than you will for the same-priced, contract-free plan.
For example: a month-to-month, $49 Go Mobile Plus Casual Plan gets you $500 of calls and texts, and 2GB of data each month. But Telstra's 12-month, $49 Go Mobile Plus BYO (Mx) Plan includes unlimited talk and text, plus 10GB of monthly data.
Once you've selected your data allowance on your Belong plan, you can choose whether to add international calling to your account. Belong offers unlimited calls and texts from Australia to 10 countries for $10 per month on top of your data costs, plus unlimited texting to a further 23 countries throughout Asia, Europe, Africa and South America.
Countries you'll be able to call as part of Belong's $10 add-on include China, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, United Kingdom and the United States.
If you opt for Telstra, you can score unlimited calls and texts to 15 selected countries - depending on your choice of postpaid or prepaid plan. Pre-Paid Extra plans of $40 and up include unlimited international calls to 10 countries, while Telstra's L, XL, XXL and Premium postpaid plans include unlimited calls and texts to 15 countries.
Countries included on the above postpaid plans are Bangladesh, Canada, China, Hong Kong, India, Lebanon, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, UK, USA and Vietnam. If you're a prepaid customer, you can also use your monthly Extra Credit allowance towards international calls and texts.
Belong doesn't yet offer international roaming services to its mobile customers - so if you're planning to use your phone overseas, you're out of luck.
Telstra postpaid customers on one or two-year plans can roam overseas through the telco's International Day Pass add-on. The feature allows you to make or send unlimited calls and texts - and use up to 100MB of daily data - for $5 per day when roaming in New Zealand, and $10 per day in more than 50 countries.
Customers on Telstra's XL, XXL and Premium Plus two-year plans will also receive an included data roaming allowance each month, available to use in eligible countries. You'll get 1GB of international data roaming on the XL plan, 2GB of roaming on the XXL option, and 4GB on the Premium plan.
If you're on a prepaid Telstra plan, you can add international data roaming packs to your account (from $29 for 100MB of data, with a 30-day expiry), or pay per-use rates for megabytes, calls and texts.