Optus, Telstra launch 4G for the contract-phobic

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Optus, Telstra launch 4G for the contract-phobic

Contract-phobic 4G smartphone users can now pick between Telstra and Optus for their prepaid service. But which network offers the better deals?

Optus ruffled a few feathers recently when it denied BYO customers access to its 4G network

The carrier still only offers BYO 4G plans for those with an Apple iPhone 5, but if you want to access the 4G network on a prepaid basis, it’s now possible with Optus’ new Prepaid Social plans.

The plans are identical to Optus’ 3G offerings. All of them include unlimited voice calls to Optus mobiles, unlimited SMS to Australian mobiles, and unlimited mobile access to Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, eBay and Foursquare. 

The cheapest recharge, $30, includes up to 250 voice minutes, $30 of credit and 500MB of data. There are also $40, $50, $70 and $100 recharges, the latter of which comes with up to 900 included voice minutes, $100 of credit and 5GB of data. All of the recharges expire after 28 days. 

Optus isn’t currently selling any prepaid 4G handsets, so you’ll need to source one separately. At the time of writing, the cheapest unlocked 4G smartphone we could find on Mobicity was the LG P936 Optimus True HD for $389.

Telstra will also be offering the first prepaid 4G smartphone in Australia from 27 November called the Telstra Frontier 4G. This is an Android 4.0 handset with a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 5-megapixel camera and 4” display. It will sell for $299. 

Now that Optus has flicked the switch on prepaid 4G, we expect mobile virtual network operators that offer 4G through the Optus network (which is Virgin Mobile only, for now) to follow suit. Amaysim and Boost Mobile have both confirmed they will be offering 4G LTE services in the near future. 

On the face of it, Optus’ new 4G Prepaid Social plans compare favourably with Telstra’s. Optus’ plans offer more data, and the lower amount of credit is balanced by the inclusion of unlimited calls to Optus mobiles and unlimited SMS (although Telstra’s prepaid plans include free talk and text every night to standard Australian numbers).

However, a deeper inspection reveals you can get a much better deal with Telstra. This is because part of the credit included in Telstra prepaid can be put toward buying a Browse Plus Pack. This means the 400MB of data that comes with the $30 Telstra Pre-Paid Encore recharge can be boosted to 1.3GB once you buy the $20 and $10 Browse Plus Packs with the included $30 credit. 

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