Telstra has massively overhauled its phone plans – no more contracts or leasing

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Telstra has been promising to shake up its plan offerings for some time now, and today the telco finally delivered. Similar to Vodafone's big overhaul in 2017, Telstra has completely removed lock-in contracts from its range of options.

The Aussie communications giant has canned its wide variety of plans that it used to offer with each handset, and instead boiled it all down to just four primary plans.

  • Small ($50) – 15GB, trial 5G
  • Medium ($60) – 60GB, trial 5G
  • Large ($80) – 100GB, full 5G
  • Extra Large ($100) – 150GB, full 5G

You can sign up for these plans on a month-to-month basis, either bringing your own phone or opting into a handset payment plan (over either 24-, or 36-months), the monthly cost of which will simply be added to your bill.

As part of this shift, Telstra has done away with its unlimited data plan, which would previously have set you back $199 each month, regardless of which handset you paired with it. Similarly, there are no more options to lease a handset.

As for excess data, none of the plans will automatically incur the extra charges associated with going over your prescribed allowance. Instead, download speeds will be capped at 1.5Mbps, and while there's no longer an option to purchase extra data for use at uncapped speeds, customers have the option to upgrade their plan at any point of the month and simply pay pro-rata.

5G ready?

As indicated above, all four of the new plans arrive with some level of 5G capability, but there's a catch. The Small and Medium plans only include 5G during what Telstra's describing as its 'trial period' of the tech, which ends June 30, 2020. After this, you'll need to drop an extra $15 per month for the privilege.

Assuming that the plan pricing stays the same, this will make adding 5G compatibility to either of the lower two plans almost as expensive as just upgrading straight to the Large, which includes 'full' 5G and a heap more data.

Currently, Telstra's 5G functionality is still rather limited, with coverage only currently available in (very) selected areas, and which don't always deliver the speeds that are promised. If the telco's continuing rollout goes to plan, however, we should have a much more capable and available 5G network by the time the trial's over.

If you're looking to jump to Telstra or are an existing customer who's plan is up, the new Medium plan is arguably the best value at the current time – it gives youa healthy 60GB of data and you're not paying a large premium for 5G which is, right now, an incomplete service. And, for what it's worth, you'll still have access to 5G for the better part of a year.

What's been lost?

Telstra has cut a number of its previously-included features from these new plans, presumably to make the overall package more affordable to those that wouldn't use the extras... or, alternatively, to squeeze some more pennies from those who do.

One such trimming is the loss of unlimited international calls and texts (to eligible countries), which you can add on to your plan for a $10 monthly fee. Unlimited local calls and texts are still included across all four plans.

Similarly, there's no more included global roaming data, so you'll either have to cop the "standard rates" for roaming data or purchase an "International Day Pass", which costs $10 per day and includes unlimited roaming talk and text, 200MB of included data, and charges of $10 per 500MB excess data usage.

Data only

Just like Telstra's phone plans (which include talk and text), the telco's data-only plans have undergone a similar revision, with the range boiled down to just four month-to-month plans.

  • Small ($15) – 5GB, trial 5G
  • Medium ($25) – 10GB, trial 5G
  • Large ($50) – 50GB, full 5G
  • Extra Large ($75) – 100GB, full 5G

These contain the same configuration of 5G access (either included for free, or on a trial basis), and have the same situation with excess data usage, where going over your limit results in a shaped download speed of 1.5Mbps.

For those Telstra customers who're already comfortable with their existing contract – either mobile or data-only – you'll be able to stay on the same plan as you've currently got, as Telstra will continue to honour these contracts, although it's currently unclear if it will continue to do so once your current contract period expires.

Harry Domanski
Harry is an Australian Journalist for TechRadar with an ear to the ground for future tech, and the other in front of a vintage amplifier. He likes stories told in charming ways, and content consumed through massive screens. He also likes to get his hands dirty with the ethics of the tech.