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Optus plan overhaul shifts data usage to $10 blocks

Optus' new mobile plans will initially have less data per month, but top-ups are simpler.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Optus has overhauled its mobile plans and branding in a move aimed at simplifying services for customers, with excess data usage charged in AU$10 per GB blocks.

The new logo.
Image: Optus

From July 1, Optus will begin offering three new categories for its plans: My Plan, My SIM, and My Mobile.

My Plan is the new standard Optus plan, which starts at AU$50 with 500MB of data and 450 minutes of calls per month, up to AU$100 per month with unlimited calls and 3GB of data per month.

The AU$50 and AU$60 plans come with 500MB less data per month than the comparable Optus plans in place today, but the company's managing director of the customer division, Vicki Brady, told journalists today that this was decided based on research Optus had done.

"That's a trade-off we've made. The plans are built around a data-centric world, our old plans were built around a world where customers largely used voice."

The trade-off is that when customers reach their monthly data or voice limit, they're automatically given an extra 1GB or 200 minutes worth of calls for an extra AU$10 each. Currently, Optus charges AU$0.25 per MB for customers who exceed their monthly data cap, meaning the same amount of data would currently cost customers AU$250.

Brady said that there is no set limit to the amount of top-ups customers would receive, either, and customers would be warned before they are charged the extra AU$10.

Customers on the AU$50 and AU$60 plans today will keep the same amount of data. Existing Optus customers will have a choice to move to the plans from July, but Brady said that they would not need to re-contract for any longer than their existing contract with Optus.

The My SIM service is designed for customers who want the service without having to purchase a new phone. The My Mobile service will let customers buy a new phone with their plans, and will let the customer pay it out either upfront, over 12 months, or over 24 months.

As hinted by Optus CEO Kevin Russell last month, the plan shift away from excess data charges will hit Optus' average revenue per user in the short term, but the company has indicated that it won't hurt Optus in the long run.

The plans follow the current industry trend in shifting toward charging customers more for data as users move from primarily using their phone for voice calls to data. Russell said last month that Optus' aim is to have the service valued by customers so that they are willing to pay slightly more for services.

But the move to reduce the amount of data has come under fire from the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN). ACCAN spokesperson Asher Moses said that Optus is leading the industry in ending high excess data charges, but is disappointing with its data allowances.

"We're disappointed the new plans don't come with more included data, given the booming rates of data consumption," he said. "According to ACMA mobile data usage nearly doubled in 2011-12, and this trend is expected to continue."

Vodafone has a number of month-to-month data packs for its plans, ranging from AU$5 for an extra 150MB up to AU$30 for an extra 2GB. Telstra's data packs start at AU$5 per month for an additional 250MB, up to AU$60 for 8GB. Telstra's data packs need to be added and removed manually by the customer as required.

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