There is a feature of the mobile phone industry that tech savvy people know about, and it is saving them hundreds of dollars every year.
The secret is that the smaller, cheaper phone companies use the same networks as the big brand network operators.
That's right, telcos on the Optus and Vodafone networks use exactly the same networks, while telcos using the Telstra network access the vast majority of the 3G and 4G networks.
Knowing this, you can shop around for a much cheaper plan, safe in the knowledge that your phone will continue to work as it does now with one of the bigger telcos. For example:
Plans from the big telcos
Cheaper plans from the tiny telcos
Which telco uses which network?
This information is listed on all search result pages across our site, and is available on the telco's sites too.
Find your new tiny telco
Broadly speaking, Optus has the most wholesale partners, so there is a good chance that if you are choosing one of the smaller telcos that it is probably operating on the Optus 4G network. A few notable exceptions are Boost, Aldi and Telechoice on the Telstra 3G network, and Hello Mobile and Lebara on the Vodafone 3G network.
Can I keep my number?
This is another major concern, and one that we hope we can alleviate for you. You need to remember that you own your mobile phone number. There is legislation protecting you so no telco can ever hold your phone number ransom if you decide to leave.
The process of taking your number from one provider to another is called Number Porting, and it is a surprisingly fast process. Based on personal experience, the fastest we’ve seen is 5-minutes and the slowest is 4-hours, although it can take a day or two in certain extreme cases.
The time it takes to port your number isn’t a major consideration though, as your old service will continue working until the new service is connected, so there shouldn’t be any downtime on your phone number.
Can I trust the small telcos?
The number question we are asked by the people using our phone plan search engine is “Can I trust Company X?” Our answer is two-part — first, yes, and second, it doesn’t really matter.
Yes, based on our experience, you can absolutely trust these companies. Typically they are small teams of very dedicated people working hard to keep their customers happy. Most have excellent self-service websites, some have local tech support call centres, and they are all above board. Anything you’d expect from a bigger telco, you can expect from a smaller telco, too.
But, like we said above, it doesn’t really matter. The majority of smaller telcos operate on PrePaid or Monthly terms, so even if you’re unhappy with the service you receive, you are free to take your business elsewhere at any time. No lock-in contracts, no early termination fees. Just contact a new provider and you’ll be switched out on the same day.
What does SIM-Only mean?
Most of the smaller telcos only sell phone services, not phone handsets. A SIM card is a small plastic card (with a microchip) that you put into your phone and sends your unique subscriber details to the network so that you can connect to it.
When you buy a SIM-Only phone plan, you only get a SIM card in the package — and with your own phone, this is all you need.
Phone Whisper via Shutterstock