Choosing a mobile phone network in Australia

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Choosing a mobile phone network in Australia


So you’re traveling to Australia and deciding on a mobile network to choose. Straight up, my recommendation is Telstra. I’ll explain a little more about why below.

Though my recommendation is Telstra, many backpackers I have met that weren’t planning to travel into the outback were very happy with Optus.

Australia has 4 mobile networks and some carriers “piggy back” on one of these networks. Here’s a list of some of the mobile carriers in Australia along with the network that they’re actually on:

Mobile Providers with cheap international call-rates

During my travels, I’ve talked with many backpackers who have mentioned the following mobile providers as affordable options to make international calls.

They work by diverting international calls though internet based telephony (VOIP). The downside of all these providers is that nobody is on the Telstra NextG network.

If you’re looking at working in regional or rural Australia, Telstra NextG is the only provider that has reliable coverage. If you want to make calls overseas, consider buying an international call card.

Why I recommend Telstra

I have traveled far and wide across Australia and no other network has followed me across the continent like Telstra’s NextG network.

Before I get to the technical reasons why I recommend Telstra, here’s my personal experience. In the past, Telstra had a name for having bad customer service and very un-competitive pricing. As a result I refused to use their network. In fact, I started on the Vodafone network. I’m big on customer loyalty and it takes more than just one issue or to make me move service providers. I believe that every company deserves a chance to innovate, change and do great things.

Over the 3 years I was with Vodafone, the network started to get really slow and I continually had issues with black spots in Canberra. The biggest downer was that Vodafone customer service didn’t seem to care about the problem I was having. So, I moved to Optus. Optus was fantastic for the first year. Then they where plagued by the same issues I had with Vodafone. A very slow network, empty promises, customer service that didn’t care… and a few other things.

Now, back to Telstra, in the years Optus and Vodafone were going backwards, Telstra has done a back flip on their approach to customer service. They had made significant changes to their pricing matrix and upgraded their network to meet customer demand. Wow, the company I refused to approach was making some big, positive changes. I decided to move over to Telstra and I’m really glad I did!

Australia’s largest mobile network

If you’re planning to travel to any outback areas of Australia, Telstra is your only choice. Telstra offer the largest mobile network in Australia and you’ll find that you’ll have coverage in most towns across Australia.

This gives you bragging rights when you have coverage (and Facebook/Twitter/Google+) when none of your mates do.

Australia’s fastest mobile broadband

One of the biggest issues with Australia’s mobile network is the speed of mobile broadband. Telstra has kept up-to-date with customer demand by upgrading network infrastructure to maintain a fast mobile broadband network, even in large city areas where other carriers struggle with network congestion.

In a very media and information oriented world, mobile broadband is a must have to keep up with family and friends.

What others have said

So I’ve shared who I use as my mobile provider but I’ve asked around to see what other people have to say about their mobile service provider.

  • I’m on Optus, have been since 2005 and haven’t had any major problems. They have a good deal for people on prepaid; like me that don’t use any internet and want maximum credit – Trudy (City, Student)
  • I use Telstra. It’s the only network that works out here and you’ll hear the same from any pilot that works in rural Australia – Mark (Rural, Pilot)
  • Optus. Great coverage at all the places I frequent, large data allowance, unlimited call plan. – Ross (City, Pastor)
  • I moved to Optus after I cancelled my Vodafone contract due to bad service. – Zoe (City, Hospitality)
  • I was recommended Global Gossip when I first arrived in Australia but since then, I’ve switched to Optus. I’ve been very happy with the coverage and the call rates calling home. – Jake (Backpacker, UK)

If you have any recommendations, share them with us below.


By | 2016-03-28T10:22:50+00:00 February 2nd, 2016|Travel Tips|0 Comments

About the Author:

Korske is one of the Co-Founders of AusBackpacking and has spent over 5 years exploring Australia in his trusty Nissan Patrol. From Cairns to Perth, there's not much that Korske hasn't seen on his many road trips over Australia.

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