Telstra introduces new data budget plans and feelings

Telstra has announced a set of new plans, as well as a 'New Phone Feeling' feature that will allow customers to upgrade their phones annually.

After recently reporting that it won over an extra 739,000 customers in the last half of 2013, Telstra is looking to continue that by offering its mobile customers more for less.

The telco giant has announced its Mobile Accelerate plans, which arrive in four guises. The starter AU$55 per month plan has AU$550 worth of calls and SMS with 500MB of data; an AU$70 plan with 1.5GB of data and AU$700 of calls and texts; an AU$95 option that includes 2.5GB of data and AU$950 of calls and texts; and an AU$130 per month plan, which has unlimited calls and texts and 3GB of data.

All the plans run for 24 months, and will be available from March 4. The Mobile Accelerate plans have a monthly excess voice usage fee cap of AU$130 per month, with excess data rates in Australia reduced from 10 cents to 3 cents per megabyte — which Telstra claims is one of the lowest in the country.

"Our new plans cater for the continued demand for voice calling and the growth in mobile internet use," said Telstra's group managing director for product, Warwick Bray.

"And because customers tell us cost certainty is really important to them, they offer peace of mind that they won't face big surprises should they exceed their included allowances."

Alongside these new plans, March 4 will also mark the launch of when Telstra customers will have the option to trade up to a new smartphone after 12 months, when they sign up to a new 24-month plan.

Dubbed "Telstra New Phone Feeling", the feature will allow customers to avoid waiting the usual two years to upgrade their smartphone by paying AU$10 per month on top of their plan, and return their existing phone undamaged and "in good working order".

The introduction of "Telstra New Phone Feeling" comes after Pureprofile conducted research on behalf of Telstra showing that 46 percent of Australians would like their telco to offer them the option to get the latest smartphone partway through their plan.

In particular, the research revealed that those aged 25 to 34 are most excited about the prospect of a plan that includes the chance to trade up to a new phone every year, with 63 percent indicating that they'd like the option, followed by 61 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds, and 55 percent of those aged 35 to 44.

The research also identified the top reasons why Australians want to update their mobile more frequently includes a desire to have the latest features, a love of having the latest gadgets, and boredom with their existing device.

Bray said this is the result of Telstra listening to customers who want an affordable way to trade up for the latest smartphones more frequently.

"We know lots of Australians really look forward to getting their hands on the latest smartphone technology, and we want to give customers the chance to experience that 'new phone feeling' more frequently," he said.