man using his phone

If you’re looking to access the Telstra mobile network, there’s a limited number of options available. Unlike the other two top-tier networks, Telstra guards its prize asset fiercely. Only a handful of third-party providers signed deals to make use of what remains the largest mobile network in the country. One such provider comes in the seemingly unlikely form of supermarket giant Woolworths. After selling mobile phones and SIM cards for years from kiosks at its stores, Woolies is now striving to grab a piece of the burgeoning market for itself. So which of the two telcos is better? We investigate.

How do Woolworths mobile plans compare to Telstra’s own? Would you be better off going to the source and signing up with Telstra directly? Or can Woolworths give you all the network you need and save you money? We’ve got some answers. Let’s see whether Woolworths or Telstra is the right fit for you.

Telstra

In the face of increased competition, Telstra has traditionally been a little stubborn when it comes to the pricing of their mobile plans. They’re happy to use their status as “best of the best” to justify a higher price for their services. But all that’s been changing in recent years, and the current range of Telstra mobile plans can be considered superb value in many cases. Plus, they give you access to the whole Telstra network including uncapped data speeds usually unavailable through third-party providers.

The definite sweet spot plan for those looking for the right balance of inclusions and performance would have to be the Mx plan. Only available to those who sign up and manage their account online, it’s a $40/month plan that gives you $1000 worth of calls (equal to 1000 minutes or over 16 hours per month), unlimited text and MMS and 5GB of data. Alternatively, you can bump up to the $50 M plan and get an extra 3GB of data. If unlimited calls are important to you, you’ll need to step up to the $70 L plan, which bumps the data allowance to 15GB. All of these plans are on 12-month contracts. You can pay month-to-month as well if you’re willing to accept a little less monthly data for the same price.

The extras with Telstra’s plans are pretty sweet, too. You get a six-month subscription to Apple Music (and data-free streaming of that service), 200GB OneDrive storage subscription, free access to Telstra Air wi-fi hotspots, free movie rentals, discount movie tickets and free access to the AFL and NRL streaming apps for live sports action wherever you are (and also streaming data-free).

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Woolworths

Woolworths Mobile operates both as a prepaid and postpaid provider. But to go post-paid you need to buy a phone handset through them, restricting you to Samsung and Oppo branded models at the moment.

It’s their prepaid options that are appealing, especially since they run on the Telstra network at prices lower than Telstra itself can do under a 12-month contract. What’s the catch, you ask? Well, the one minor “gotcha” is that Woolworths Mobile uses “parts of” the Telstra 4G network. That sounds a little strange, but what it essentially means is that Woolworths SIMs only have access to certain frequency ranges on Telstra’s network. It won’t affect the quality of your calls, but it will keep the maximum data speed that you can download at capped at about 50Mbps maximum. However, that is faster than most home broadband connections!

Starter packs (including the SIM) are available with or without credit included. If you go with the credit-included options, you get bonus data for the first three recharges. You can recharge at $15, $30 or $45 per 30 days, with all tiers giving you unlimited text and MMS, and the top two featuring unlimited calls. The $45 recharge also gives you unlimited calls to 10 international countries, plus $100 international credit per recharge for other countries. Data on the $45 recharge is 8GB, versus the 3GB on the $30 option; making Woolworths Mobile’s $45 plan unbeatable value when it comes to getting on the Telstra network. You can roll over unused data every month up to 15GB in total, too.

Moreover, if you have a Woolworths Rewards card (which are free to sign up for) you get 10% off every recharge – making that 8GB, unlimited-everything plan only $40.50.

Woolworths vs Telstra – which way to go?

While the numbers suggest that Woolworths has the upper hand when it comes to inclusions for the price – and arguably they do, especially for those who make a lot of voice calls – Telstra has the undeniable advantage of full access to their own network. That translates to potentially even better coverage and faster data downloads. If that is important to you, then Telstra is most certainly the way to go. But if it’s outright bargain value you’re searching for, then for sheer value, flexibility, lack of contract and calls for your dollar, Woolworths Mobile is well worth considering.

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