Australian Mobile Networks and Retailers

The telecom market is dominated by the three big Australian mobile networks- Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone. Some also like to call them ‘The Big Three.’ They compete for market share across various segments including mobile, broadband, and enterprise services. However, you’ll also come across some smaller retailers that offer mobile services to customers. In the market, these retailers are called Mobile Virtual Network Operators or MVNOs.

Guide to Australian Mobile Networks and Retailers

An Introduction to the Big Three Australian Mobile Networks- Services & More 

In Australia, the ‘big three’ mobile networks refer to the three largest telecommunications companies, i.e., Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone. They are highly regarded for owning and operating their own mobile network infrastructure. These networks cover most population with their extensive coverage and offer a range of mobile services. Here is everything you need to know about them:


Telstra stands tall as the largest Australian mobile network or Telecommunications provider today. It is widely regarded for offering a full range of competitive communication services all across Australia. You’ll find trending mobile phones, customer-friendly month-to-month mobile plans, and bundle plans on their website. 

It also stands out for offering mobile coverage to a whopping 99.5 % population, i.e., by far, the most by any mobile network. It utilises 3G and 4G connection technology but is now moving onto 5G.  

Telstra provides parts of its 3G and 4G network space to its MVNO partners through its wholesale arm. This can result in a difference in speeds and coverage between a direct Telstra plan and one purchased through one of its MVNO retailers. However, it is a point to be noted that it doesn’t offer full access to its wholesale network with Boost Mobile being the only exception. 


Optus comes in a close second when it comes to the size of the top mobile networks in Australia. It covers a good share of 98.5 % of the Australian population with its network. Via their web portal, you have a wide pool of options in latest mobile phone additions and plans (SIM Only and Prepaid-SIM plan), offering their fair share of customer-centric deals. 

Its coverage commitment is where it really shines, wherein, if its customers face any coverage issues, they are free to cancel at any time without being charged a cancellation fee.  

While Optus plans tend to be slower than Telstra’s in terms of speeds, this is usually reflected in its lower pricing structures. 

Optus offers its full 4G network to its MVNO partners. This means there should not be any real difference between Optus and its MVNO partner plans in terms of connectivity and speeds. 


The cheapest (also, the newest) network among the big threes, Vodafone offers coverage to around 96% of Australian population. Apart from being an interest-free mobile phone provider in Australia, it also offers SIM-only plans and data add-ons. What’s more, Vodafone allows full access to its network services to a handful of MVNOs.  

An Introduction to MVNOs 

An MVNO, short for Mobile Virtual Network Operator, is a telco company that sells (more like, resells) mobile connectivity plans without having a network infrastructure or even a mobile spectrum license of its own. It simply leases the phone and data services of the big three Australian mobile networks to sell them under its own name.  

The big networks and MVNOs typically operate independently in a commercial sense. This means when MVNOs buy network services from one or more of the big networks, they are then free to set their own prices. 

They also buy mobile services at wholesale prices from the big mobile phone retailers in Australia, which means you will often find them offering cheaper deals and special offers for customers. This, in turn, means when it comes to seeking out the best mobile plans to suit your needs, the world is pretty much your oyster! 

Explore Top Telecom Companies in Australia

Most Popular MVNOs in Australia 

Here are some of the most common small-scale Australian mobile networks you might come across: 

For Pre-Paid Plans 

  • Amaysim (Optus): offers a wide variety of plan Pre Paid Plan options including small cheap mobile plans and bigger plans for heavier users. 
  • ADLI Mobile (Telstra): offers affordable data value packs ranging from small to very large in size. 
  • Boost Mobile (Telstra): provides Pre Paid Plans over wide ranging expiry lengths from very short to very long term. 
  • Kogan Mobile (Vodafone): offers a range of Pre Paid Plans over a wide variety of expiry lengths. 

 For Post Paid SIM-Only Plans 

  • Southern Phone (Telstra and Optus): could suit light to medium users as it offers micro plans through to medium-size data plans 
  • Belong (Telstra): offers several Post Paid Plans to suit light to medium users. 
  • Vaya (Optus): Vaya’s plans would most likely suit medium to heavier mobile service users. 
  • iiNet (Optus): offers 4G Post Paid Plans to suit medium users. 
  • Dodo (Optus): Dodo offers some very cheap Post Paid Plans with generous amounts of data. 

All you need to know about Network frequencies – 3G, 4G, 5G 

The big networks operate on highly regulated frequencies – which are essentially spectrum blocks purchased from the government. When you hear someone say 3G or 4G they are referring to mobile spectrums or frequencies, with the ‘G’ standing for ‘generation’. 

2G is old technology and all three Australian Mobile Networks have switched it off. 3G and 4G are currently the most widely used. 5G is the latest generation technology which you’ve probably been hearing about. Telstra is rolling out 5G, which should mean greater capacity and faster speeds for its users. 

Not all mobile devices support all frequencies, so it’s important to ensure your phone matches network bands in your region. This means if you are using a very old 2G phone or one from overseas it may work for calls and texts but not for data. 

These days however it’s generally quite easy to switch between providers without too much hassle. You will however need to make sure your phone is unlocked from your current provider before switching. 

How to find the best value mobile phone plan and save money? 

There are no hard and fast rules for buying a mobile phone plan that fetches you the best value for your money. Given that, working your way through the thousands of mobile networks in Australia can be mind-boggling. However, the simple funda to arrive at a plan that works for you starts with assessing your needs and usage habits. Here are some things you should ask yourself before navigating through your options in plans of Australian mobile networks: 

  • What is your monthly data usage? 
  • What is the total number of calls that you might make in a day? (Don’t forget to multiple them by 30 to get a monthly average) 
  • What is the type of phone you’re making a call to? (is it landline or mobile phone?) 
  • What is the location of the person you’re calling? (is it local, long-distance, or international?) 
  • Which is the deal-breaker for you-Post-paid Or Pre-paid plan? Here is some background information you must have to answer that:  

Post-paid plans lock you into a contract of 12 or even 24 months, charging a minimum monthly service fee for a set number of calls, texts, and data use. Pre-paid plans, on the other hand, offer you the advantage of paying your mobile phone provider upfront as opposed to monthly payouts. That means, you’re simply recharging your account even before using it. What works for you here, works for you. Those who are good at following a set budgeting routine prefer to go with post-paid plans, and those who don’t wish to commit to a monthly bill and are more irregular with their data usage may go for pre-paid plans. Moreover, both come with their share of pros and cons. It’s important that you do your research, weigh them against each other, and figure the better option for yourself. 

  • Do you wish to have a new phone included in your plan or not? Providing you don’t need a new phone included in your plan, signing up for a SIM Only Plan with an MVNO should get you the best deal in cheap phone plans. If you do however want a new phone included, you will need to go to one of the major Australia mobile phone carriers or through an MVNO that offers device-included plans. 

With Econnex, you can explore a variety of plans of two of the most prestigious mobile networks in Australia, i.e., Mate and Aussie Broadband and compare all you want to close the deal on the one that best fits your needs. Moreover, it also operates completely independently, which means the recommendations and deals you see are the real deal without bias or preference. What you get when you use the engine is easy to follow clear comparisons of the top deals in the market. The savings you can make are also shown in real dollar amounts rather than percentages. So, if you wish to switch to a better mobile plan, a suitable option for you is just a search and a click away.

How to use the comparison engine of Econnex? 

If you are scouting for a better deal from any of the major Australian mobile networks or MVNO partners, Econnex can help make your decision super easy. Here is all you need to do once you are at our portal to compare mobile plans:

  • In Connection Type: Choose "Personal." In Plan Type: Select the plan that best meets your requirements. In Current Mobile Provider: If you currently have a mobile provider, select them from the list. If not, choose "I don't have a current provider.”

Once you've made these selections, click "View Plans" to explore and compare a range of suggested plans tailored to your needs.

Your Guide to Choosing the Best Phone Plan

How do I compare plans with Econnex?

I am running a business and need many mobile connections, can I get a comparison?

What is the difference between SIM and Mobile + SIM plan?

How do I know I have the best plan?

What is an MVNO?

Should I use an MVNO or a network operator?

What is the difference between post-paid and pre-paid?

What does owning a phone “outright” mean?

What are the differences between the networks?

What is a “contract” plan?

What is Android?

I already have a mobile phone and want to keep it. Can I get a new plan?

What does SIM cards do? Do I need one to get a mobile?

What is “SIM Card Unlocked” ?

What is 4G? What is 5G?

I want a post paid plan. Will the provider check my credit?

What is international roaming?