What is a mobile carrier?
The way things are set up in Australia, there really are only three companies that can be considered actual mobile “carriers.” In other words, they provide the actual infrastructure that makes it all possible. The cell towers, the exchanges, the data centres that make seamless mobile phone use possible are all owned and operated by three companies – Telstra, Optus and Vodafone (with Optus and Vodafone collaborating on many of the physical cell towers they use).
So what about all those other mobile brands you see around? Well, they’re referred to as “MVNOs” – Mobile Virtual Network Operators. They buy access to and capacity on one of the big three networks, and then sell a mobile service to customers that’s tailored for whatever market they’re hoping to attract.
The ease with which a company can become an MVNO has led to fierce competition in the marketplace. In turn, that has led to cheaper prices across the board. Unlimited-call plans, unheard-of only a few years ago, are now commonplace. Data allowances get larger, and even perks like free overseas calls are thrown in to try to get your business. The customer is very much the winner in the modern Australian mobile market.