Telstra Mobile vs Belong Mobile: Less in common than you might think

Telstra and Belong are effectively peas in the same pod. Telstra is Belong’s parent company and the two telcos share the Telstra network – the most extensive in Australia. They also benefit from Telstra’s expertise and experience in the industry. That said, there are some pretty significant differences between the mobile offerings of the two. From cost to flexibility, from range to bundling, there is a wide degree of variance between the two providers.

Telstra Mobile vs Belong Mobile

As with choosing any provider – whether it be in relation to mobile or otherwise – the research has to start with you. What do you want from your provider? How do you use your phone? This will allow you to weigh the considerations against each other and get a better idea of which provider to go with.

While both Telstra and Belong are on the same network in Australia, their international offerings are different. Telstra has a number of options for international roaming; Belong doesn’t offer it. Both have packages which allow you to call international numbers from Australia, although Belong’s is a lot simpler.

Telstra has a far greater range of offers and potential bundles than Belong. Telstra has plans which include handsets and which don’t. Belong only offers month-to-month plans, while Telstra has a combination of contracted and uncontracted plans, the latter of which often come with bonuses or extra perks. These perks include anything from watching live sport for free to discounts from Telstra partners.

When it comes to using more than your download limit each month, Belong simply slows down your access or offer a data package. Telstra will automatically charge you for additional data when you exceed your plan. Belong lets you roll over your data, Telstra does this only for prepaid.

Finally, Belong lets you gift your data to other people on the Belong network, whereas Telstra isn’t into that sort of thing at all.  

What does Telstra Mobile offer?

Put simply, Telstra has more to offer than pretty much any other provider. Telstra has been around since forever. They are the granddaddy of Australian telecommunications. In the early  and particularly during the deregulation of the industry – Telstra was criticised for being out of touch and too rigid, while younger providers stepped in and actually tailored their offerings to what consumers wanted. To their credit, Telstra started to realise this – bringing in significant changes to their offerings and seeking to mirror some of the most popular ideas of their competitors.

Your first step with Telstra will be to decide whether or not you want a SIM only plan, i.e. considering whether to upgrade your handset. The upgraded handsets are only available on the 24-month plans. From Samsung to iPhone, the available devices include some of the best devices out there on the market. While they infer that the device is ‘free’ with the plan, in reality you pay the cost over the 24-month period of the contract.

If you go for the 24-month contract plans there are five to choose from which vary on the basis of data. Currently, the tiers are set at $59 (3GB data), $79 (20GB), $99 (70GB), $119 (160GB) and $199 for unlimited data. The $99 and $119 plans also include free international talk and text to 15 countries, while the unlimited plan offers free talk and text to every country on planet earth. Keep in mind that these monthly costs do not include the amount you’ll pay for the handset.

If you’re not keen on a 24-month deal and want to bring your own handset, there are 12-month SIM-only plans which are also separated by download limit. These are available at $49 (30GB), $59 (60GB) and $89 (30GB) – with the two larger plans coming with unlimited talk and text to 15 countries.

Each and every one of the above comes with access to Telstra Air Wi-Fi in cities across the country – something that Belong doesn’t offer – along with access to Apple Music, AFL, AFLW, NRL, Netball and Hyundai A League live app, fast and data-free. Every plan has free calls and texts to Australian numbers.

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What does Belong Mobile offer?

Belong is relatively new on the scene. Despite being a subsidiary of Telstra, Belong acts much more like one of the newer players on the market. They’ve been known as a provider who offers the best of both worlds: the dynamic and flexible attitude of a new provider with the experience and network sophistication of Telstra.

While Belong has gotten a reputation as Telstra Lite which is partially deserved, the best way to think of Belong is that it is a streamlined version of Telstra. There are still some great quality options, however many of the extras have been trimmed off.

First and foremost, Belong does not offer handsets and there is no international roaming. Belong has three plans to choose from – the aptly named Small, Regular and Large – all of which are offered on a month-to-month basis. Every one of their plans comes with unlimited calls and texts to AU numbers.

The main difference between the three is the data limit. The Small plan comes with 1GB of data per month at $10, meaning that this is the phone plan for people who use their phone only as a phone. The Regular plan gets you 10GB of data at $25, with the option to chuck in another $5 for unlimited standard international calls to 33 countries.

The Large pack – which is, you guessed it, the largest of the bunch – comes in at a cool $40 per month, but includes the international call pack. It’ll get you 30GB of data a month, which isn’t near the top levels offered by Telstra but it should cover basic browsing, emails and perhaps a little bit of streaming.

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Call centres

Not only are the hours relatively similar for Belong and Telstra, there’s a degree of overlap between the staff. They both have call centres based overseas with a complementary component based here in Australia.

Belong’s call centre is open seven-days-a-week from 7am to midnight. Call them on 1300 235 664. As for Telstra, call 1800 007 769 from 8am to 9pm Australian Eastern Time to be connected to a Telstra customer service representative. They’ve also got a 24/7 chat function on their website, as well as the CrowdSupport forum which will be able to answer loads of your questions.

Which is better for you?

When choosing between Telstra and Belong Mobile, what do you need to consider? Firstly, it’s best to look at the similarities between the two before outlining the differences. Both providers’ mobile services run on the same network. The coverage isn’t exactly identical – Belong runs on the Telstra wholesale network which is around one percent less extensive than Telstra’s exclusive network – however both of them offer more than 95 percent coverage in Australia so there’s unlikely to be any significant differences.

If the differences were to be summed up in one sentence, it would simply be that Telstra has an extensive range of options whereas Belong is streamlined. This does not however mean that you need to sacrifice by going with Belong – their options are incredibly competitive and would be some of the most popular regardless of which provider was offering them – however if you’ve got a specific set of needs from your mobile then Telstra is likely to be the better fit. Telstra comes with loads of extras – free streaming of sport and Apple Music for example – but it comes at a premium.

First things first, get to know your mobile needs – then you can decide which provider best meets them.

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