Rip-off: Telstra wants $20 a month to share data between devices



blog If you’re like me (and I suspect that quite a few of you are, or else you wouldn’t be reading this site to start with), you’re a bit of a gadget hound. I’ve got a Nexus 4, an iPhone 5, an iPad mini, and, depending on what devices I’ve reviewing at the moment, usually two or three other units. After a brief period involving multiple prepaid SIM cards and multiple plans (at the time, I also had a 3G USB dongle for my laptop), I gave up a while back and started funnelling all my mobile broadband quota on the road through the one SIM card, using whatever device it was currently in, through Wi-Fi tethering. Given that no telco at that stage offered data sharing between SIM cards, there was really no other choice, unless I wanted to start paying for several full-fledged mobile phone plans per month.

Today, Telstra launched what it sees as a solution to that issue. Telstra senior communications advisor Christina Patsias tells us, on the company’s Exchange blog:

“Telstra has just launched Every Day Connect Data Share Packages which will let me share my monthly mobile data allowance between my smartphone and tablet, all on the same bill. This is great because I hate bills, I lose the hard copies and if it wasn’t for direct debit, I would forget to pay them. This way it is simple for online and device addicts like me to stay connected and manage data usage.”

What Christina neglects to mention in her blog post, but is detailed on Telstra’s site, is that using this new Telstra feature will cost customers an extra $20 per month, consisting of $10 per month for an extra SIM card, and $10 a month purely you know, for kicks — to get access to the data sharing feature. And we assume you’ll be paying an extra $10 per SIM, per month, if you add more SIM cards — up to a total of three, Telstra’s site states.

Now, I’m not going to say that Telstra should allow data sharing on its network for free. After all, it does need to factor in the cost of supplying customers with an extra SIM card. However, to our mind that should be a once-off cost, not an ongoing monthly cost, and the company certainly shouldn’t be charging customers an extra $10 a month just to switch on what is essentially a minor software feature.

$20 a month might not seem that much. But when you look at the cost over a two-year standard mobile phone contract, it becomes an extra $480, or $720 if you add a second additional SIM card. So at the minimum, an extra $480 (at the minimum) added onto your existing Telstra mobile phone contract, just for the privilege of sharing your quota between your smartphone and your tablet.

Tempting? No, not really. Given how well Wi-Fi tethering works on smartphones, and how expensive Telstra’s mobile plans already are, we can’t see many people wanting to fork out that much. The only real benefit to mobile broadband data sharing, after all, is to be able to save a bit of battery life through not tethering, or to be able to loan your tablet with mobile broadband to someone else. Given that power points are plentiful in our fair land and that pretty much everyone in Australia has a mobile phone right now (and almost everyone has a tablet), we just don’t see this as a huge demand factor. Our rip-off rating? Blatant.


  1. Will this work with multiple phones as well? If so, do all phones share the same number, and if so, which one rings on an incoming call? I believe there are some savvy telcos in Asia (SingTel?) that have had this arrangement for some time; you SMS a shortcode from the phone that you want to be the ‘active’ phone for inbound calls (and perhaps texts as well)

    “Hey, I’m feeling in an Android mood today, let’s take calls on that!”
    “Hey, I’m feeling in an iPhone mood today, let’s take calls on that!”

  2. I have 3 mobile devices but they are all on prepaid, 1 mobile phone and 2 USB 3G dongles.

    This could have been useful a while ago (assuming it works on prepaid), but i see no real reason for it now, i will be switching purely to using my mobile phone to provide wifi access for mobile devices (like my macbook and ipad).

  3. Hang on a minute, have just crunched the numbers on this a bit more…

    For a year of this ‘Everyday Connect Data Share’ I’m up for 12 * ($10 for the plan + $10 per device): so for phone+tablet its $240.

    Or, for the tablet I can get a prepaid SIM and a 12Gb/365 day expiry recharge for $180 (I note that this used to be $120 about two years ago!)

    Huh? Where’s the value proposition in this? Or have I missed something?

    • Have added a comment about this to the original Telstra page.

      Although with the phrase “turd in a sugarbowl” I’m not sure it will pass moderation…

  4. “Our rip-off rating? Blatant.”

    Blatant indeed. Given I can tether my iPhone over LTE to to my wifi-only-iPad in seconds, the thought of paying the extra cash for 1.) a tablet with 3g/LTE chipset 2.) a dedicated tablet data plan and 3.) Telstra’s $20 fee on top – just to be able to share the data I’ve already paid for – is beyond ridiculous.

    I understand the appeal of tablets with mobile chipsets, but to me that’s a luxury I can go without for the foreseeable future.

  5. Telstra offers a plan that doesn’t actually really offer anything beyond being more expensive than existing options, by charging you to use data (potentially) already paid for.

    Brilliant. Give that man a raise.

  6. heh I told a work mate about this, watch his eyes light up until I mentioned the fee’s.. it was like kicking a puppy.

    poor bloke.

  7. Christina, a Senior Advisor in Telstra, would “lose the hard copies” of bills, and “would forget to pay them”. Hmmm that says a lot about the brain capacity of Senior Telstra people right there!

    • And they have the gall to pursue customers to the courts to pay unpaid bills when their own staff admit to not paying their own bills as a normal practice… And Telstra have just endorsed this behaviour by sanctioning an official public release admitting the behaviour.

      Where can I sign up for a new Telstra plan I can conveniently forget to pay for?

  8. Wow, really Telstra…. Sad thing is that I don’t think anyone is really surprised at the words “blatant” and “Telstra” being in the same sentence.

  9. TBH i think it’s fair enough to charge for running a second device on the network, sure you have already paid for the data, but isn’t lots of extra devices running on the network is going affect performance.. like when you go the to MCG during a big game

  10. I understand your thinking, but shouldn’t the telco increase capacity to cater for new demand? One word springs to mind.. Vodafone. If I paid for a premium and still got the crappy congestion I would feel ripped off. Like my ADSL1 at home lol.

  11. There is one ongoing cost to the Telstra network for a second sim-card.

    The phone number, regardless of if your sim can *make* phone calls; all sim cards have a phone number associated with them. This is a non-trivial and not-finite resource being used by the “activated” simcard.

    It goes a very small way to justifying some of the 10 dollar device cost. But; it should be more like 2 dollars (since that is the cost of buying a prepaid sim-card with some carriers isn’t it?). If they want to charge $10 per month, at least have the courtesy of increasing the total data allowance for all devices at the same time.

    1 phone plan: 1gb.
    1 phone + iPad, 1.5gb
    1 phone + iPad + iPadMini: 2gb

    At-least make it look like you are giving something of value with the monthly charge.

    As it is my enterprise plan gives me 3gb on my phone that I do my best to eat through – but only ever get close when visiting the in-laws interstate.

  12. Some of the US telcos has been offering the same for a while now. However, they convolute it even further by charging more or less of a monthly access fee depending on which device you put the SIM into – $10 for a tablet vs $20 for a laptop or hotspot! They charge even more again for a smartphone, but then it comes with unlimited minutes.

    At least the Americans offer it for up to 10 devices so the whole family can use it, not just a couple of extra data-only devices.

    Perhaps if Telstra shared minutes too ..

  13. Telstra digging deep into the consumer pocket is the future of Australian communications!

    Funnily enough, it’s also the past…

  14. Verizon gets away with it because they’ve locked down ios so you can’t do it for free. The only benefit I can see to Telstra’s plan is saving a few seconds each time you want to share data with another device, as far as going into the settings options.

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