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Optus opts for data sharing and SIM-only plans

Optus has launched new plans that will allow customers to share their data allowance across multiple devices.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Optus is looking to break its customer acquisition drought with new SIM-only plans and new plans that allow customers to share their data allowance across multiple devices.

For the past few quarterly results, Optus has faced a net loss, or small gain in new customers on its network, despite a strong investment in its 4G network, new plans in the market aimed at breaking bill shock for customers exceeding their monthly data limits, and its rival Vodafone continuing to shed customers.

Optus, however, reports that customer churn is at a 10-year low, with a 40 percent reduction in complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. 

In a bid to lure customers away from Vodafone and the giant industry dominator Telstra, the company will launch new data sharing and SIM-only plans in the market from June 10.

The SIM-only plans come with generous data limits, with the top end AU$60 per month plan coming with 5GB per month. For customers who want to share data across devices, there is a one-off fee of AU$5 per device. There is no lock-in contract with the plans.

By comparison, Telstra charges $10 per month for data sharing per SIM. The company abandoned its original additional AU$10 per month charge, so with an AU$70 per month plan with 1.5GB of data it would cost a minimum of AU$80.

Vodafone doesn't have data sharing plans, but the company's month-to-month AU$65 Red plan comes with 5GB of data, and includes the ability to roam to a number of countries and continue to use data and make calls to home for AU$5 per day.

Optus acting CEO Paul O'Sullivan indicated that the company was seeking to be the "customer champion", indicating that the company was seeking to adjust the debate between the telcos over the scale of their 3G and 4G networks.

"For Australians, choice is about a lot more than network," he said.

"It's about that, and a lot more."

Existing customers that are in contract will be able to move to the plans, and Optus will be actively contacting existing customers that the company believes would be suited to these new plans to switch over, Optus' managing director of customer, Vicki Brady said.

Brady indicated that data SIMs on the shared plans would not count as individual customers, and said some existing customers with multiple plans may choose to bring their SIMs into the one plan, but O'Sullivan said that people should be focused on long term profitability and brand loyalty.

"Let's get away from reporting customer numbers."

Following Telstra's recent announcement of AU$100 million in a national Wi-Fi network, Brady said Optus wasn't looking at rolling out its own network for now.

"Wi-Fi hotspots are helpful if you're near one [but] we actually think they need the freedom and flexibility to use their mobile devices," she said.

O'Sullivan indicated that the large spectrum holdings in the 2300MHz spectrum band the company has from its acquisition of Vividwireless would play a roll in Wi-Fi networks in the future.

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