Are Optus' new My Prepaid plans good value?

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Optus has, once again, reworked its prepaid plans with promises of bonus data aplenty. But how do they stack up against the competition?
The prepaid space is one that doesn’t see quite as much love as the contract market, largely because the value in prepaid is in controlling your spend, and therefore telco profits, whereas contract users can blow through thousands of dollars and be on the hook for every cent. There’s more money to be made there, so the really tasty offers generally come with a contract hook.
On the surface, though, Optus’ limited time My Prepaid offers do look pretty decent, with $30, $45 and $60 recharge tiers offering 1.5GB, 3GB and 6GB respectively, along with calling credit. That’s a bonus level of 500MB at the $30 price point and a full GB of data for the $45 and $60 tiers.
The beauty of prepaid is that you can shift to any other provider, so at the same price points, how does Optus compare?
[table]
Optus MyPrepaid Comparison,,,,,,
Telco,Plan Name,Monthly Cost,Included Calls,Included Texts,Included Data,Other Bonuses
Optus,MyPrepaid,$30 ,Up to 350 minutes plus unlimited weekend calls,Unlimited national SMS and MMS,1.5GB,”$5 credit for international calls, roaming and premium services”
Optus,MyPrepaid,$45 ,Unlimited,Unlimited national SMS and MMS,3GB,”$10 credit for international calls, roaming and premium services”
Optus,MyPrepaid,$60 ,Unlimited,Unlimited national SMS and MMS,6GB,”$15 credit for international calls, roaming and premium services”
Telstra,Freedom,$30 ,$250 ($220 call credit and $30 recharge for calls and texts),$250 ($220 call credit and $30 recharge for calls and texts),800MB,”Choice of unlimited calls to standard Telstra mobiles and unlimited texts to standard Australian numbers, or unlimited talk/text 6pm to 6am to standard Australian numbers”
Telstra,Freedom,$40 ,$550 ($510 call credit and $40 recharge for calls and texts),$550 ($510 call credit and $40 recharge for calls and texts),1.5GB,”Choice of unlimited calls to standard Telstra mobiles and unlimited texts to standard Australian numbers, or unlimited talk/text 6pm to 6am to standard Australian numbers”
Telstra,Freedom,$50 ,$1000 ($950 call credit and $50 recharge for calls and texts),$1000 ($950 call credit and $50 recharge for calls and texts),2GB,”Choice of unlimited calls to standard Telstra mobiles and unlimited texts to standard Australian numbers, or unlimited talk/text 6pm to 6am to standard Australian numbers”
Vodafone,Prepaid Cap,$30 ,$450 call credit,Infinite national texts,1GB,Bonus 250MB if recharging online via CC or Paypal
Vodafone,Prepaid Cap,$40 ,$750 call credit,Infinite national texts,2GB,Bonus 500MB if recharging online via CC or Paypal
Vodafone,Prepaid Cap,$50 ,Infinite calls to 10 countries,Infinite national texts,3GB,Bonus 500MB if recharging online via CC or Paypal
[/table]
All pricing and details are as per Telstra, Optus and Vodafone web sites as of 21/1/15; depending on when you read this they may have changed. Telstra offers other prepaid plan options, although the rest are more either talk or time of expiry centric, and as I’ve noted previously, the “Freedom” plans are arguably worse than the Cap Encore plans they replaced.
There are of course a number of MVNOs, most of which are actually Optus resellers, but I’ve kept things to the “big three” telcos.
It’s not exactly a like-for-like comparison outside the $30 space because Telstra and Vodafone don’t have the same recharge tiers, but there’s still some solid value in Optus’ offering, with two rather large catches.
The first is the observation that, like any telco, the value of a mobile service for data or calls is only as good as the network itself. If you’re in a poor Optus reception area, or have to travel frequently to them, it may not be as good — and the same is true for any telco.
The other issue is that Optus’ My Prepaid offer is a limited time deal designed to hook in new customers. It’ll only apply to customers who sign up from today until the 19th of April. After that, if you stay on MyPrepaid you’ll still get the extra 500MB/1GB/1GB for each respective tiers, but those signing up after the 19th of April will only get 1GB/2GB and 5GB respectively for their plans.
Article amended to remove references to lack of 4G on MVNOs. My error entirely.

Author: Alex

Alex Kidman is a multi-award winning Australian technology writer, former editor at Gizmodo, CNET, GameSpot, ZDNet, PC Mag, APC, Finder and as a contributor to the ABC, SMH, AFR, Courier Mail, GadgetGuy, PC & Tech Authority, Atomic and many more. He's been writing professionally since 1998, and his passions include technology, social issues, education, retro gaming and professional wrestling.

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