You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

What Does ‘Unlimited’ Data Really Mean, and Are You Getting a Good Deal?

Lifehacker Australia logo Lifehacker Australia 13/04/2022 lifehackeraustralia

'Unlimited' data is always a sought-after trait when it comes to mobile plans, and it’s easy to understand why. No one wants to worry about how much data they’ve used each month or pay excess charges.

Australia has had access to 'unlimited' data mobile plans for a couple of years now, but it’s not as straightforward as you think. While the telco industry also loves to throw around terms like endless and infinite, unlimited mobile data always has a catch.

For the most part, this relates to the speed you can use it at. Unlimited mobile data is going to be slower than the actual speeds you can get over a 4G or 5G network. Where it gets trickier is each telco with unlimited data takes a different approach as to how its implemented.

So, if you're thinking about a plan with unlimited mobile data, here's what you need to know.

Vodafone

Vodafone is the only provider that has what we’d call a truly unlimited mobile plan. You genuinely get unlimited data, at the maximum speeds the network is capable of. The only catch is that you’ve got a limited allowance when it comes to using your plan for a mobile hotspot. If you go over 30GB, your hotspot speeds will be capped to 2Mbps for the remainder of your billing month.

If you sign-up before April 22, you can get this plan for $65 per month, which works out to be a $20 per month saving. This discount lasts for the life of your life.

Vodafone’s other mobile plans also have unlimited data, but they work differently. They have a primary allowance — 40GB, for example — and after you go go through that, you can continue using your plan with no excess charges, albeit at capped speeds.

Vodafone has the fastest speed caps on unlimited plans in Australia. On its 40GB and 80GB plan, you’ll be capped to 2Mbps after you go over your allowance. On its 200GB and 300GB plan, you’ll be capped to a more generous 10Mbps.

Here are Vodafone’s SIM-only plans:

Vodafone's prepaid plans also have unlimited data at speeds of 1.5Mbps for when you go over your primary data allowance.

Felix Mobile

Owned by TPG and powered by the Vodafone network, Felix Mobile is one of Australia's newest MVNOs. Instead of offering a range of plans, Felix has just a single option: a $35 per month plan with unlimited data. As you'd expect, there is a catch. The plan is capped to speeds of 20Mbps. For comparison, 4G networks should easily be able to attain speeds of at least 50Mbps in metro areas.

However, 20Mbps is still quite reasonable. It's only a touch slower than an NBN 25 connection and is more than fast enough for most mobile activities, whether it's streaming video on Netflix, downloading apps, or scrolling through socials. The one area where 20Mbps could be a limit is you're regularly using your phone as a portable hotspot.

If you're not quite sure whether 20Mbps is fast enough but you're intrigued by the prospect, Felix has a seven-day happiness guarantee. If you decide the plan isn't fast enough within your first week with Felix, you can get a full refund.

And if you sign-up for this plan before the end of April using the promo code WHISTLEOUT, you’ll save $5 per month on your first six months.

Telstra

Telstra’s unlimited plans are similar to the majority of the Vodafone range. The plans come with a primary allowance, and then can be used at capped speeds if you run out of data. Telstra caps its unlimited data to 1.5Mbps.

If you've run out of data and need faster speeds, Telstra lets you change plans once a month. If you increase your data allowance on a Telstra Upfront plan, you'll get the higher data limit instantly, but you won't pay any extra until next month's payment date. You can then drop back down to a cheaper plan the following month, but you'll keep your higher data allowance until the end of the billing month.

Optus

All of Optus' postpaid plans have unlimited data. As with Telstra, you'll get capped to speeds of 1.5Mbps if you go over your primary data allowance.

If you go over your allowance and don't want to deal with slower speeds, Optus also has data add-ons available. Pricing for extra data is as follows:

  • 2GB: $5
  • 10GB: $10
  • 30GB: $20

Given you'd previously pay $10 for a gigabyte of excess data, these are a much better option for those unsatisfied with 1.5Mbps.

If you'd prefer truly unlimited data, Optus also has an Unlimited Data Day add-on which you can purchase for $5 through the My Optus app. This gets you 24 hours of unlimited data at full network speeds.

Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut.

More from Lifehacker Australia

Lifehacker Australia
Lifehacker Australia
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon