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.