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New Optus BYO plans: better value than the rest?

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Optus today announced a small shift in its bring-your-own phone SIM plans, with changes that see the telco offering slightly better value than its competition, especially at $60 per month.

The new plans are kept simple and to a minimum, with only three options now available: $20, $40 and $60 tariffs with tiered calls, messaging and data inclusions. The $60 plan includes unlimited standard calls and messages and 2GB of data.

Vodafone offer a similar plan in Australia but charges $5 extra a month, while Telstra's $60 BYO option is shorter on inclusions by 500MB a month and with a $800 value limit on national calls, rather than an unlimited amount.

The Optus $60 plan is on a 12-month contract, though, and those customers looking for month-to-month freedom will need to consider one of the cheaper plans or any of Vodafone's offers.

There is no higher value BYO plans beyond $60 at Optus, though you can bolt-on extra data to this plan -- but it's not cheap. 500MB sets you back an extra $10 per month, 1GB is $15 a month and doubling the 2GB of included data will cost an extra $25.

Excess data charges are also worth comparing. Optus will charge $0.25 for every megabyte used over the monthly allocation. This is in-line with the excess data charges at Vodafone, while Telstra is much cheaper at only $0.10 per MB.

Time for an MVNO?

If anything, the new Optus plans show how little difference there is between the major telco players in Australia. There is a thriving collection of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) to consider, though.

Amaysim is one of the high profile MVNO players in Australia and for just under $40 per month offer unlimited calls and messages plus 4GB of data on the Optus network. Kogan Mobile also has an unlimited plan with 6GB data for $29 for 30 days.

Fixed-line broadband provider TPG is also a popular choice and have a plan for $45 a month that includes 5GB and $100 worth of international calls. Lesser known Live Connected is also worth a look as it is one of the few MVNOs that offers 4G services and subsidised mobile handsets.

Just be sure you read the fine print on each of these offers and be aware of which network the MVNO works on. For example, Amaysim and Kogan work on the Optus and Telstra networks respectively, but both offer data speeds capped at 7.2Mbps -- much slower than the 21Mbps theoretical maximums for these networks.