Opinion: Why Telstra’s new phone plans might not be right for you

Telstra have announced a plethora of changes to their lineup of mobile and broadband plans, reducing the amount of available plans from 1800 down to just 20. Here's why that's a bad thing.

Essentially, the idea is for customers to choose the amount of data and add-ons that they need - with the ability to change their inclusions once a month, whether it’s for more or less.

In addition, the telco has eliminated lock-in contracts, phone leasing and excess data charges, instead choosing to throttle speeds to 1.5Mbp/s when customers reach their data limit.

“Customers expect to be able to personalise their experiences and only pay for what they want or need,” said Telstra CEO Andy Penn.

Here’s a selection of the new mobile plans available to customers as of 25 June.

The announcement comes in the wake of an ABC News report critical of the telco’s sales practices, particularly when it comes to vulnerable consumers. 

According to the report, Telstra staff would sell expensive contracts to Australians already struggling financially, many of whom were receiving Centrelink benefits, without any form of credit checks. On top of that, the report claims that other customers were also slapped with bills worth thousands of dollars - many of whom had never had excess data or leasing charges explained to them correctly.

The matter is currently before the ACCC.

From a PR perspective, it's hard not to see the convenient timing of these new changes. At the launch event for the Telstra's new plans, no mention was made of the recent controversy - even when Telstra executives were directly asked by journalists.

The focus very much remained on mobile data and 5G. But not the costs involved. Customers with 5G-capable phones will be able to access the network where available until 30 June 2020; after that, Small and Medium plans will have to opt in for an extra $15 a month.

Yes, Telstra is the first telco to bring 5G to Australia, but they’re promoting it a little too heavily for a network still in its infancy. Telstra are also yet to announce whether prepaid customers will have access to the 5G network. 

You can find our roundup of their current 5G coverage here.

It’s also worth mentioning that Telstra haven’t said much about their $40 XS plan outside of the press release - in fact, it's not even advertised on their website.

The unmentioned plan has 2GB of data for $40, while the $50 plan has 15GB. Essentially, it seems as if the cheaper plan is deliberately priced as a rip-off to force people to upgrade - that’s probably why Telstra have said nothing about it. $40 for 2GB a month is completely ludicrous, considering you get 35GB for the same price on prepaid. I’m pretty mad just thinking about it. 

Not everyone needs 15GB of data. I’m an early Gen Z human and even I don’t, but my current plan, with another network, was much better value than the lower one - 40GB for $40 rather than $25 for 3GB.

This seems to be a recurring theme for telcos and it seems that older Australians and the less tech-savvy have been left out of the equation. My 60 year old mum practically never uses her data, so why should she pay for that much? Sure, the long life plans exist, but it’s as if the prepaid market was forgotten.

In another blow to consumers, Telstra have also ditched international roaming inclusions. They have instead opted for $10 per day passes in 70 selected countries, including China, South Korea, the US and Canada. This wouldn't be a problem if it came with more than a measly 200MB of data per day. 

Other countries will still continue on the pay-as-you-go model for the time being.

It's safe to say that many Australians aren't happy about the changes, taking to Twitter to voice their discontent.

Yes Telstra, #planschange, but you sure haven't. 

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Tags TelstraRoamingmobile plans5GTelstra Plans

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Sarah Lewis

Sarah Lewis

PC World
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