New mobile plans that allow households to share a single pool of data across multiple devices were recently rolled out by two of the biggest US telecommunications providers, Verizon and AT&T.
As it stands, Australian telcos require separate data plans for each consumer mobile or 3G device, each of which has its own data limits.
One Aussie telco comparison website, WhistleOut, has estimated that by combining devices into a single contract with a shared data allowance, some local consumers could save hundreds of dollars over the life of their contract.
According to WhistleOut’s analysis, a couple with two new high-end smartphones on contract and one iPad Mini could save more than $1600 over 24 months on a US-style shared plan, compared with the equivalent individual unlimited talk and 3GB data plans and a 1GB data pack offered by Optus and Telstra.
It’s an eye-opener for Aussie consumers, as the cost of smartphone contracts in Australia and those from the big US carriers is comparable.
What Aussie telcos say
CHOICE asked the four major mobile phone providers in Australia – Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, and Virgin – whether shared plans for personal use were on the cards for Aussie consumers:
- A Telstra spokesperson told us the company will be launching new plans allowing customers to share their data across a number of mobile devices. “We believe these plans will be perfect for people who want to streamline and make the most of the data they pay for, without complication,” the spokesperson said.
- Virgin Mobile’s Melissa Gompes said the company “will not be offering shared plans to Australians in the near future”, but pointed out that Virgin is unique in offering the next best thing on postpaid mobile plans: “the ability to roll over unused call credit to the next month”.
- Vodafone Corporate Affairs' Michelle O’Brien said there are no “immediate plans” to offer shared plans to retail customers, and added that Vodafone hasn't “seen demand for this type of product from consumers”.
- Optus declined to comment.