Optus customers will pay $10 per gigabyte for excess mobile broadband data, instead of paying per megabyte, under new plans designed to keep bills in check.
Optus says there will be "fewer surprises at bill time" with the announcement that it has reduced excess usage fees for mobile broadband users that exceed their monthly data allowance.
Optus today announced it is ditching per-megabyte excess usage fees with its new "My Mobile Broadband" plans, instead charging a flat rate of $10 per gigabyte. Global roaming charges have also been capped at $500 per month.
Optus' new plans start from $20 per month for 1GB of data and are available on month to month deals or else a 12 or 24-month contract.
Customers will also be sent usage alerts when reaching 50%, 85% and 100% of their included data, as well as 85% and 100% of every additional 1GB of data provided - in line with new government regulations. Alerts can still take 24 to 48 hours to arrive.
Excess data usage will be automatically charged in 1GB increments once customers have exceeded their included data, up to a maximum of 20GB or $200. After this Optus "may limit additional data available to you at these rates. If you use more than this we may continue to charge you at the same rates or restrict your data use that month".
The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network has called on mobile providers such as Telstra and Vodafone to follow suit and "end the rort in exorbitant excess mobile data charges" by introducing reasonable hard caps. Even so, the $200/$500 caps introduced by Optus are still too high, says ACCAN chief executive Teresa Corbin.
“People choose their plans according to their budget - no one wants to open their bill to find out they’ve been stung for hundreds of dollars more than they intended to pay,” Ms Corbin said.
“Optus says that in any given year about half its customers will break through their caps and incur excess charges, which highlights the mass misleading of the public. Data usage notifications on their own are not sufficient because they can be delayed by 48 hours. Hard caps are the obvious solution to ensure consumers are protected.”
The move by Optus comes as LTE 4G networks extends across the country, letting customers chew through their monthly data allowance faster than ever.
Mobile data excess usage rates applied by Australian telcos have been one of the key contributors to bill shock, leading the consumer watchdog to crack down on telcos in recent times.