I’ve recently been looking into changing plans, as I had been with Telstra for the previous four years and found that their new plans were poor value ($45\month for a BYO plan and only 500MB of data, 1GB if you pick the extra 500MB option? Optus has a plan for the same price with 2GB data.)
I nearly went with Virgin with an Xperia Z2, but ended up holding off for a while and ended up keeping my phone, a Nexus 4, and switching to TeleChoice.
TeleChoice are a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator), and use parts of Telstra’s 3G network. This was good for me, Telstra had the best coverage and speeds where I used it. They also had excellent rates – I ended up choosing a plan that cost $28 per month for twelve months, including $650 worth of calls and MMS, unlimited SMS, and (the real icing on the cake) 2GB of data. You can find this plan here.
Sign up was easy enough – answer some questions online, agree to some terms and they’ll run a credit check on you. Once approved, they’ll send you out a SIM card, you then call them and activate it. The online sign up took less than five minutes. Within 24 hours, I had received an email the next day announcing that I had passed a credit check. A SIM card was sent out, which arrived the next day in an Express Post envelope.
I do have one concern regarding how they verified my identity and ran a credit check on me, though. I inadvertently mistyped my surname (Douglas Carrospm instead of Douglas Carrison). This doesn’t match my driver’s license, which they asked for, and I also passed a credit check. How did I pass the credit check if the name was wrong? I don’t know.
Once I got the SIM, I called them and spoke to a gentleman named Frazer who corrected my surname, activated my SIM and ported my number across from Telstra – the port was faster than I thought it would be – it took about an hour to go through.
The next part, and arguably the most difficult part, was setting up the APNs on my phone. Because they’re not a huge carrier the APNs don’t automatically download. That said, they provide instructions on their website, however I couldn’t get them to work. The data one started working after a restart of the phone, but I could never get the MMS ones to work properly without deleting the data one. This caused issues as my phone would constantly try and receive an MMS someone had sent me even though it wasn’t succeeding which was a huge drain on battery life.
Curiously, when I got my LG G3, I dropped the SIM in and it started working straight away. When I went to check what the APNs were, they were the standard Telstra ones. So my advice: if you do go with TeleChoice, use the default Telstra APNs unless they don’t work, in which case try to use the Telechoice ones.
I did encounter another issue with them with regards to billing. When you sign up you have to provide a means of direct debit – either Visa or Mastercard (which attracts a small surcharge) or direct debit from a bank account. For some reason, the debit didn’t take place and I got an email from them saying the bill was overdue. I logged into their Members Area (a functional but slightly bland and confusing portal) and sent through a ticket around lunchtime, with the promise that they’d call me within 72 hours. The next morning, I got a call from one of their staff (based in an overseas call centre, but easily understandable and no background noise) who confirmed the issue, confirmed my bank details and asked if he could force the system to process it. I gave my go ahead and he did that, the payment came out a few days later. All in all, I was quite impressed – less than 24 hour turnaround time and no screwing around to get what I wanted done.
Still, the payment seems to come out after the bill is due, which is worrying because not paying on time can now affect your credit score in Australia. I have been making early payments with BPay, however they day they’ve received it in both instances was the day they made the direct debit, so I’ve been paying for two months at a time.
Coverage is largely the same as Telstra’s, although I did notice some random dropouts in places where I normally had coverage – for example a couple of spots along Main North Road in Adelaide apparently have zero coverage. Speed tests were also pretty good, in Mawson Lakes I generally got speeds of 17.8-18.9mbit\second down, but only 1.2-2.5mbit\second up. Still, these speeds are nothing to complain about.
I guess that there are a couple of issues with TeleChoice which might be detractors for some people.
First, they don’t offer 4G – if you want 4G you’ll have to go with someone else. This wasn’t really an issue for me, as I’ve always been happy with the 3.5G speeds I got with Telstra so imagined that they’d be reasonably similar on TeleChoice, of which they are.
Second, they only offer SIM only plans, so if you don’t want to continue using your current phone or have an outright phone you will, again, have to look elsewhere. I was happy with my Nexus 4 and ended up buying my LG G3 outright which worked out to be $462 cheaper over an equivalent period compared to getting it on Telstra on a 24 month plan*
Third, they don’t use the entire Telstra 3G network. I presume this means that extremely remote areas aren’t included and strange places like mines. If you must have access to the full Telstra network, you would be best served by Telstra direct.
Fourth, this delay in debiting my account is worrying. It might just be something weird with my account, but the option to do a normal BPay is there, or you can have them debit your credit\debit card instead.
That said, I’m quite happy with them and recommend them if you’re after a SIM only plan.
* Telstra LG G3 on an “M” Plan, $75\month with $700 calls and MMS, 1.5GB data, bonus option of either 1GB extra data or $1000 extra calls and MMS and New Phone Feeling included as standard, total minimum cost over 24 months $1800. Source. Checked 24/10/2014