It may seem like a bit of an unfair fight. After all, we’re pitting the giant juggernaut that is Telstra against the fresh-faced, amaysim-backed budget third-party mobile provider Vaya. But in an age where even top-tier providers are discounting their plans and offering some tasty incentives to join, there’s actually more to compare than you might think.
People tend to think of Telstra as expensive and uncompetitive. “But you have to pay extra to get access to the best network” is often heard in discussions about the company. Reality’s actually quite different these days, with some very tasty Telstra deals around. And as for Vaya, well, they’ve been doing pretty spectacular things at the budget end of the scale for a long time now. That hasn’t changed since they’ve become part of amaysim.
If you’re comparing providers and weighing up Telstra and Vaya, chances are you’re more interested in keeping an eye on your budget rather than getting a plan that will break the bank. So to make things fair, we will keep this comparison limited to Telstra plans at $40 per month and below. Just a few dollars more than Vaya’s most expensive plan. Let’s see who comes out ahead at the lower-cost end of the market!
Winning awards from Money Magazine for several years in succession, Vaya mobile plans have been making waves in the mobile space for quite some time. One look at the front page of their website is all you need to realise why.
Front and centre we have “Australia’s cheapest unlimited standard talk and text plan.” And with an asking price of $16 per month, that’s pretty eye-catching. Especially since you get unlimited calls, texts and MMS within Australia, as well as free access to voicemail. That holds true for every Vaya plan. The top-tier $36 and $44 plans also add 200 minutes of international calls to 100 countries to the mix for only $2 per month.
As you’ve probably guessed, what differentiates these plans is the data allowance. On that otherwise-unbeatable $16 plan, you’re only going to get 1.5GB to keep you going for a month. Now, that’s not as bad as it sounds. An average user who just uses mobile broadband to check social media, browse websites, connect with apps and other trivial stuff will most likely never even make it to 1GB of use. But if you’re a heavier data user – watching videos on YouTube, for example, or streaming music – you’ll want to step up to a larger allowance. Thankfully, Vaya makes that affordable, with 3GB, 10GB, and 13GB available for $24, $36 and $44, respectively. Even at that top price, it’s astonishing value.
As for data-only users, Vaya comes through as well. They offer data SIMs starting at only $19 a month for 5GB – perfect for occasional tablet users. The value sweet-spot stands at $59, where you get a massive 50GB. Much more useful as a primary broadband service for your 4G modem or a tethered device than a tablet.
Vaya runs on the Optus 4G Plus network, with coverage across Australia running a very close second behind Telstra.
The giant telco has been sharpening up its prices in recent years. While you’re not going to get unlimited calls at any price point under $30 per month (if you choose prepaid) – outside the scope of this comparison – what you do get is access to what is widely thought to be the fastest and most extensive mobile network in the country.
Bringing your own phone to Telstra, you’ve got the option of going on a 12-month contract. The hefty two-year contracts are a thing of the past, unless you’re buying a new handset on a plan; something that’s always going to involve a higher level of financial commitment. Another thing of the past worth mentioning here is the pesky call allowance since unlimited talk and text spread across all plans is the new normal. Also, the bonuses that come with Telstra mobile plans may well make it worthwhile.
The base plan at $49/month gives you unlimited talk and text and 30GB total data. If you require unlimited international calls and texts, you can add $10 more — plus that also gives you a much greater 60GB data. The highest-value plan at $89/month, meanwhile, offers a free Foxtel Now subscription for 12 months and a whopping 90GB of data. Telstra’s latest massive data inclusions are courtesy of some notable extras the telco frequently throws into the mix, bringing greater value to their plans. In terms of standard data allowances, Telstra’s BYO plans deliver 15GB, 30GB, and 60GB, respectively.
The perks don’t end there — others include a 6-month Apple Music subscription, free access to the AFL and NRL live-stream apps data-free, free Wi-Fi access courtesy of Telstra Air, and many others. With Telstra’s $49 15GB plan (plus 15GB bonus data) and Vaya’s $44 13GB Plan, you’d go to the one that offers more data mainly because it’s the practical thing to do. However, the contract term can also serve as a differentiating factor — Telstra’s BYO plans are on a 12-month contract while you can purchase Vaya on a month-to-month basis.
One other advantage with going direct through Telstra if you have a recent-model smartphone is support for VoLTE or “HD calling.” Still being rolled out by the big providers, you won’t be seeing that feature on third-party SIMs for quite a while.
Telstra or Vaya – which one to choose?
If you’re on a tight budget and the primary use of your phone is making calls and sending texts, there’s no contest – Vaya wins it hands-down with its $16 plan. For the price of a coffee per week you get unlimited access to your phone as an actual phone – but at the expense of not being able to splurge on data. If data usage is important to you, the contest becomes a bit more even, with Telstra being slightly more expensive per GB, but giving you a ton of bonuses and other extras, as well as offering access to their fast 4G network at unrestricted speed.