MVNO stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operator. MVNOs are small mobile service providers that lease space from the “Big Three” networks – Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone. Since they have lower overheads, MVNOs can offer some of the cheapest mobile plans on the market.
How do MVNOs differ from the big networks?
MVNOs don’t build their own infrastructure but bulk purchase network time and services from the three big networks. This means when you sign up for a plan with an MVNO you have the backing of one of the big networks, but you are purchasing all your services and products from the smaller operator.
How do MVNOs work?
MVNOs purchase network services on a wholesale basis from the three big Telcos and then on-sell those services to customers. This includes Australia’s biggest supermarket chains.
Basically, when you sign up to a small operator you can usually get the same or even better deals, often at the same speeds, as when you deal directly with one of the big networks. The plans are often cheaper because these smaller providers don’t have their own infrastructure to pay for and maintain. This in turn means they have lower overheads and can afford to offer a wide variety of cheap mobile plans.
MVNOs also operate independently of the network behind them, which means they can set their own prices. There are loads of small operators competing for new business – which is good news for customers as it reduces prices and creates a marketplace with plenty of choice.
Some of the benefits of MVNOs:
- Reduced costs – since you are not paying for mobile tower maintenance and other infrastructure costs. Many MVNOs don’t have shopfronts or carry mobile devices, which can also help reduce costs to customers.
- Access to the cheapest mobile plans – such as plans on 3G networks that offer great value for money at slightly lower speeds.
- More choice – competition amongst operators means more choice and less restrictions on plans.
- Less exit fees – since MVNOs tend to focus more on SIM Only plans and shorter contracts, it means you’re less likely to incur exit fees when exiting or changing plans.
Generally speaking, Optus and Vodafone small network providers provide the same coverage as their respective big networks. However, Telstra operators tend to provide slightly less coverage and lower speeds than Telstra itself. This is because they only use parts of the Telstra network.
Since MVNOs tend to preference SIM Only plans that do not come with a new phone, this can limit your choice if you are searching the market for a new device included in your plan.
Some MVNOs make use of only one of the big networks while others will use more than one. Southern Phone for example uses both Optus and parts of the Telstra network. Likewise, iPrimus uses both Optus and Telstra depending on the plan and network availability.
What are some of the main MVNOs in Australia?
- Aldi Mobile
- Boost Mobile
- Southern Phone
- Tangerine Telecom
- Woolworths Mobile
- Hello Mobile
- Kogan Mobile
- Labara Mobile
- Catch Connect
- Coles Mobile
- Moose Mobile
- Southern Phone
Should you use an MVNO or go direct with a big network?
It all depends on what you want. You might for instance choose a big telco if you:
- already have internet services with one of the Big Three and are interested in a bundled deal with them that includes a mobile plan;
- are intending using your phone extensively while overseas;
- are looking for big bonuses in your plan, such as Netflix data-free streaming.
On the other hand, you might choose an MVNO if you:
- are looking for the best value deal with no lock-in contract;
- want a basic, no-frills cheap mobile plan without the fancy extras;
- would like more choice when searching for best value mobile plans to suit your needs;
- don’t need a new phone but just want a fantastic deal.
You can use Econnex’s comparison engine operates to find the best mobile plans on the market from the Big Three as well as smaller MVNOs. Econnex’s comparison engine operates completely independently. which means the recommendations and deals you see are the real deal. There is no bias, and no percentages or preference. Rather, what you get is easy to follow clear comparisons of the top deals in the market – with your savings shown in real dollar amounts. Whether you’re looking at upgrading your phone and plan benefits, or just the plan itself, the option best for you is just a search away.
How to use the comparison engine
To use the engine, select ‘personal’ from the Connection Type dropdown box, and your preferences from the other two dropdowns. You can then set your preferred data and price ranges using the sliders beneath the boxes, and press ‘Start’ to see a range of suitable plans.
For Business plans and inclusions, select the Business (1-9 Connections) option from the comparison engine Connection Type dropdown. Then, select your preferences from the other two dropdown boxes and set the sliders for your preferred data and price ranges.
If it’s time to upgrade your old device, or to simply find a better deal from either a large network or one of the many MVNOs available, Econnex can help make your decision so much easier. Simply enter in your requirements and preferences into the search engine fields and see what’s in store for you.
Your Guide to Choosing the Best Phone Plan
Econnex makes it simple to compare plans. Using the Econnex engine, just input whether you’re looking for a new handset or not, if you prefer post-paid or pre-paid, your typical data and call usage, and if you own a business. We’ll then show you plans suited to your budget and requirements. Best of all, you can sign up on the spot without any interruption to your day.
Yes. We can show you all the best new handset or are SIM Only Post Paid plans for business. To find plans that suit your requirements, select the Business option from the comparison engine Connection Type dropdown. You can select up to nine new handsets. You can adjust your preferences from the other two dropdown boxes. Then you need to set the sliders for your preferred data and price ranges, and press ‘Start’ to begin your comparison and to start saving.
A SIM plan is a mobile phone plan that does not include a handset. If you have a device but you want to find a better deal on your mobile phone plan, you can opt for a SIM only plan. These are cheaper than most mobile + SIM plans, as you do not have to pay off any handset.
The best plan must suit your needs and your budget. Using EConnex and inputting your preferences, you will know if you have the best plan when:
- The monthly price is the lowest
- The features on offer is the highest
- The overall value is “unbeatable” by other comparable plans.
For you, a large amount of data is preferable than unlimited calls. If you can get 10GB of data for $10 instead of 9GB for $15, the first plan would be the best plan for you. This is up to individual preferences according to whether you need a SIM only or a new handset, the variations in many different Android devices such as high-end “flagship” and “budget” devices, where the budget-end uses less powerful processors or cameras.
You also know you’re getting the best plan as Econnex is independent; we don’t take commissions from network operators or MVNOs to skew results in their favour. We also show you savings compared to your own plan in real dollar terms, not in discounts or other deliberately confusing amounts.
MVNO stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operator. MVNOs are small mobile service providers that lease bandwidth from the “Big Three” networks – Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. They do not operate the cell towers and network infrastructure like the “Big Three” and can pass on any savings on administration, infrastructure, and operating retail stores on to the consumer. MVNOs can also offer reduced speed 3G plans that may be suitable for those who do not need or want data connections.
This decision should be based on personal preference, price, and value. MVNOs lease space on the network so your network quality and speeds will be tied to one of the big three. Other factors you must consider are customer service – some MVNOs do not have onshore or real-time customer service – and prices comparable to connecting with the network directly. These prices and additions are all reflected in the EConnex comparisons.
Post paid means you pay your bills in arrears; that means you pay for your service after you have used it. Your usage is tallied up every month and a bill sent to you to bring your account back into balance. A pre-paid service means paying for your service in advance; you are given a set period or dollar value to use the network and included calls or data and must “top up” or “recharge” when your balance reaches zero.
Owning a phone outright means paying for a handset in full without a contract or lease from a network operator. Most post paid mobile contracts include a handset cost in the package, which pays off the phone over 12 or 24 monthly instalments. Buying a phone direct from a retailer or manufacturer means you only need a SIM card to get it on the network. This means you can choose any network you wish as it will be “factory unlocked.”
There are three Australian mobile networks in Australia – Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. All three networks cover approximately 99% of Australia’s population with Vodafone being the lowest of the three at 96%. These networks all operate their own network infrastructure independently of each other. Telstra as of November 2019 has been rolling out 5G services in limited city-central test markets such as Sydney and Melbourne.
A contract plan is a type of post paid plan that requires you to sign an agreement for 12 to 24 months with a network operator or mobile service provider. This covers your payment schedule, handset costs, and any associated fees for cancelling the contract. Cancelling the contract may mean paying out the remainder of the phone’s value, as most contracts do not allow you to own the phone “outright” until the contract has concluded.
Android is the name of the operating system developed by Google for mobile phones. Android is based on Linux, an open source PC operating system that is known for its low hardware requirements and stability. Android is also open source, which means developers and handset manufacturers can modify the system to suit their model of phones. Android is found in tablets and some laptops such as Chromebooks. It is the main competitor to iOS, found exclusively in Apple mobile products.
Yes. Those who already have a handset and own it outright can get a new SIM only plan. If you do not own your handset outright, you may want to check with your current provider as to what your obligations are in terms of paying out your contract. Changing your contract without permission may result in early termination fees.
SIM Cards, or Subscriber Identity Modules, are the small microchips you insert into any cellular mobile device – these could be mobile phones, tablets, or even hotspots and laptops – to identify you (the subscriber) on the network. These allow the network to route calls and data to your device and bill you accordingly. All mobile phones require a SIM card of some type, otherwise you will not be able to connect to the network. SIM cards will also need to be activated by your network before you may use that SIM card.
Some post paid plans by providers “lock” a SIM card to a network so it cannot be transferred to another network without authorisation from that network provider. This practice was common in the infancy of the mobile phone market, though most providers will now sell their mobile phones “unlocked” or offer an unlock code for free.
4G stands for “fourth generation” of cellular network technology, the successor to 3G. 4G refers to the technologies and data transmission speeds one can expect from their cellular network. The peak speed requirement for a 4G network is 100 megabits per second or 12.5 megabytes per second when moving. Stationary speeds should reach 1 gigabits per second. 5G is the next generation of cellular network technology with an expected speed of 2 gigabits per second. 5G is still under research and development in most countries.
Yes. A provider will conduct a routine credit check to assess your creditworthiness or ability to pay off a loan, as contracts allow you to take possession of a phone before you have paid it all off to a network operator. You must consent to any credit check a network operator makes on your behalf, as credit checks can affect your credit history.
International roaming is the ability for your SIM to connect to networks overseas and be recognised across a cellular network.
International roaming can have extremely high costs compared to using a domestic network. However, the advantage is you can use your mobile in another country without buying a new SIM card. All your calls will be routed to your mobile as if you are still within Australia. Some network operators and retailers offer international roaming bundles or reciprocal network roaming deals that can be purchased as after-market extras. Contact your provider for more information.
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