How Much Does Data Cost in the Fastest Country with LTE?

About a week and a half ago I included in a daily news round-up a report by OpenSignal entitled The State of LTE (February 2014). Brazilian carrier Claro gets bragging rights for the network operator with the fastest download speed, but Australia gets the nod for the country with the fastest LTE speeds overall — 24.5 Mbps download on average.

And me, living in Canada where LTE is pretty fast (ranking 6th) but expensive, can’t help but wonder how much Australians are paying for their super-fast data service. Let’s investigate…

Telstra

Telstra seems to be the country’s largest operator, with the second-fastest download speeds of any carrier worldwide according to OpenSignal. The cheapest plans I found on their site apply to a 12-month contract with no phone subsidy:

  • $55 AUD for 1.5 GB
  • $70 AUD for 2.5 GB
  • $95 AUD for 3.0 GB

I should probably point out that the Australian Dollar is almost on par with its Canadian equivalent — as of this writing, 1 CAD = 1.0093 AUD.

Back to Telstra, their overage rates are $0.03/MB or $30/GB.

Optus

Optus is ranked 10th worldwide in LTE download speed, just behind Rogers at number 9. Here’s what’s on offer:

  • $60 AUD for 1 GB
  • $80 AUD for 2 GB
  • $100 AUD for 3 GB

These rates apply to 24-month terms. Phone subsidies (if any) aren’t immediately apparent on the Optus site.

Overages are, well… complicated. So much so that they require a video explanation:

Still confused? Me too. I’ll go with the $13/GB in the fine print.

If it’s a SIM-only plan that you’re after, the data is a bit cheaper:

  • $35 AUD for 1GB
  • $60 AUD for 2GB

Overages are $12-14/GB and there’s no contract required. Not bad.

Virgin Mobile Australia

Virgin Mobile Australia is an MVNO that uses the Optus network. The available data buckets are:

  • $50 AUD for 1 GB
  • $60 AUD for 1.5 GB
  • $90 AUD for 3 GB
  • $140 AUD for 6 GB

You can get a phone subsidy on a 24-month contract or BYOD and save $10/month. With that $140 plan you can upgrade your device after 12 months on a 24-month term.

And according to the fine print data overages work out to $205/GB. Eep.

Vodafone Australia

Finally, there’s Vodafone Australia. As you will now see, I’ve saved the best for last — here are the rates and data buckets for their current promotion:

  • $50 AUD for 3 GB
  • $65 AUD for 5 GB
  • $85 AUD for 10 GB

Note that these are SIM-only plans. They’re still pretty great, though. And you can add roaming in one of 46 supported countries for an extra $5/day. Data overages are $100/GB, so you’d better get that 10 GB plan just to be safe!

If you want a phone subsidy you’ll need a 24-month contract and one of these available plans:

  • $60 AUD for 1.5 GB
  • $65 AUD for 1.5 GB
  • $80 AUD for 2.5 GB

That $60 plan gives you voice calls only within the Vodafone network. And choosing a twelve-month term will give you an additional option, $100 AUD for 5 GB of data.

If there are any Australians reading this I’d love to hear about your experiences with any of these networks; otherwise, I may just have to go “down under” and investigate for myself… 😀