Mobile phone plans buying guide

Confused by the ins and outs of mobile call plans? Our guide can help you.
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01.Mobile phone plans

Guy on phone

Finding the right mobile phone plan can be a daunting task. Which provider has the best coverage in your area? Pre-paid or fixed-term contract, and if contract: what monthly amount?

There are hundreds of plans available. Answering the questions we outline in this article can help you find a call plan that meets your needs.

Please note: this information was current as of March 2009 but is still a useful guide to today's market.


GSM, or 2G covers the major population centres of Australia (95% of the population), although actual coverage varies among networks (Telstra, Optus and Vodafone). Check the networks' coverage maps to see if the areas where you'll use your phone are covered.

You can use your phone overseas, although there are limitations: the phone's bandwidth has to be compatible with the system in the country/ies you're visiting, and your phone service provider has to have roaming arrangements there. Plus it's usually expensive. It also offers flexibility in moving between different networks and a good choice of handsets.


Third Generation or 3G describes wireless communication involving video phone calls and sophisticated internet services. Currently 3G is offered by Telstra, Optus, Vodaphone and 3. However, video calling may be limited to major metropolitan areas.

Check the networks' coverage maps to see if the areas where you'll use your phone are covered.


NextG, or Next Generation is a Telstra service. Think of it as 3.5G. It claims to cover more of Australia than any other existing 3G network. Next G has replaced CDMA services with a coverage area that exceeds that of the CDMA network, giving 99% of the Australian population access to 3G mobile telephony and wireless broadband. Optus has also rolled out its version of 3.5G, called 'Yes'G, claiming to cover 96% of the population.

See our article on NextG.



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