Shopping for mobile broadband can be an arduous task; with so many plans, pricing and data offers, it can quickly become confusing. In anticipation of the fast-approaching end of the financial year — perhaps now's the time to splurge on a starter kit — we've compared some of offerings from the leading prepaid mobile broadband providers to find the best bang for your buck.
For prepaid plans, we've selected a $30 recharge as a basis of comparison across all the providers. This is an ideal option for entry-level users who may need to regularly check their e-mails, update their Facebook status and browse basic Web sites without going overboard on YouTube or other online videos.
Telstra is well known for having the most expansive coverage and the fastest mobile broadband speeds in Australia, but it is often expensive when it comes to mobile phone plans and fixed-line broadband. Thankfully, its prepaid mobile broadband option is tempting. Getting connected on the Next G network will set you back $99 and includes a USB modem and 1GB of data to get you started. A $30 recharge will then provide you with 400MB of data with a 30-day expiry (7.5c per MB). If you recharge before the 30-day expiry, any unused data will roll over.
Vodafone offers far more value than Telstra, even if Telstra's network is vastly superior. It will cost you $79 for a Vodafone modem starter pack, which includes a USB modem and very generous 3GB of data. From here, a $29 recharge will provide 2GB of data which lasts 30 days. Like Telstra, any unused data will be rolled over provided you recharge before it expires. Up to 14GB data will be rolled over provided you recharge before it expires.
Optus offers a prepaid mobile broadband starter kit for just $69, which includes a USB modem and 2GB of data — though this offer is only available if you purchase the pack online. (It is normally $79 with 1GB of included data.) Once you've purchased an Optus starter pack, a $30 recharge buys you 1GB of data to use over 30 days, though this is extended to 1.15GB if you recharge online. Up to 10GB of data can also be rolled over if you recharge before expiry. Unfortunately, Optus counts data in rather high 10MB increments, so even if you use 2MB of data in a session, you lose 10MB of your included data.
3 offers a similar deal to Vodafone, but with much less included data on your initial outlay. A 3 prepaid mobile broadband starter kit will set you back $79, but only includes 200MB of data when you purchase online, which is less than Telstra offers in its starter pack.
From here, a $29 recharge will provide 2GB of data which lasts 30 days. Any unused data up to 15GB will be rolled over provided you recharge before the expiry date.
|Prepaid mobile broadband comparison overview|
|Provider||Initial cost & data||Data recharge size*||Recharge cost||Rollover?|
|Optus||$69 (2GB)||1GB||$30||Yes (up to 10GB)|
|Telstra||$99 (1GB)||400MB||$30||Yes (no limit)|
|3||$79 (200MB)||2GB||$29||Yes (up to 15GB)|
|Vodafone||$79 (2GB)||2GB||$29||Yes (up to 14GB)|
|*We've looked at an entry-level price of $30 in this comparison; telcos offer more expensive recharge options that include more data and a lower cost per gigabyte|
Additional reporting by Ross Catanzariti
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