A closer look at Telecom’s iPhone plans

It’s great for Telecom that they now have iPhone distribution rights, and that’s also great for competition in the marketplace.

However I do recommend that you look closely at the fine print in their plans and be careful about your approach.

1: If you want to have the maximum amount of data then it seems like you will need to buy 2500 texts and 500 or 650 minutes of calls [edited to correct flipping of calls an minutes - thanks to @silentTracks]. There is, however, a better way – below.

2: The maximum amount of data on offer is just 3GB. I used 6.6 GB in 10 days in a recent trip to Australia (thanks to Dropbox mainly), so if you tether and travel a lot then this could be exceeded. Even without tethering iCloud syncing over 3G will have a decent impact on your data use.

I strongly believe that we should be able to use all of our internet enabled devices with no regard to limits, and when we do so it is transformational.

3: If you were to use 6 Gb in a month then you’ll be paying the 10 cents per MB, or $100 per Gb rate, so that’s an extra $300 on your bill.

3b:  The iPhone automatically switches many texts onto iMessage, so even if you are sending 22 texts a day then your usage will drop. However if you are under 20 (say) and send 50 texts a day then expect sticker shock as the texts above the limit will cost 20 cents each (although the table above says 20c/min). In this example the extra payment would be $170.

4: If you want to call international then it’s better to use data and something like Skype. It’s amazing that charges of 91 cents or $1.43 a minute are thought by Telecom and other carriers around the world to  be acceptable these days. They are not.

Next are the terms and conditions.

  • They show that the lessor plans have a more punitive cost per megabyte, so using an extra 3GB will cost you $600.
  • Pxts will cost 50 cents to other networks, 20 cents to Telecom phones. Using iMessage will make this free.
  • I’m not sure what a data boost is, but at $200 per Gb I certainly don’t want one
  • Voicemail costs money, and early disconnection fees exist but are not stated


Overall I’m very disappointed not to see a data intensive plan that has less text and calling. The bundling approach used is a deliberate attempt to hold on to those traditional revenues, but I am concerned that Telecom’s plans don’t reflect that iPhone users spend the vast majority of our time using apps or data and only a little bit of time calling or texting.

However there is a solution – though you’ll have to dig around for it. Telecom offer “boosts” for all post paid plans, and you can add 4 Gb to any plan for $80.

If you exceed the 4Gb then you automatically get another 4Gb for another $80 (after which it’s back to $100 per Gb). This means you can tether for a much more reasonable price and get ride of any mobile data sticks and so on that you have.

I have this plan, and while I have yet to kill off the stick plans, I get by very well by only tethering.

However I have no idea how to add this plan to the pre-ordering for iPhone, and do not even know whether it will be possible to add to the plans.

If so then the recommended approach for a heavy data iPhone user (aren’t we all) would be to choose one of the lower plans (the $120 one say) along with the $80 data pack.

[update]
@Bandit has directed us to the Business plans, which appear cheaper at first. However they are all priced before GST, and to my eye look similar to the consumer plans for data. They seem to have dropped the number of texts and increased the minutes versus the retail plans, which makes sense, but data is still priced the same.

I can’t find the add-ons page for the $80 for 4Gb deal, but I did find this shamefully priced extras piece on the “business share” page.

Those internet overage rates are $670 and $440 per GB, so my extra 3 Gb example above would cost me just around $1300 or $2000 each month. These are wildly unacceptable.

About Lance Wiggs

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17 Responses to A closer look at Telecom’s iPhone plans

  1. I think the business plans offer a far more competitive pricing structure – though the fine print states you need to sign up for 24 months to take advantage of some of the bonuses.

    https://www.telecombusinesshub.co.nz/mobile/MobilePlans/Pages/BusinessTalkTextInternet.aspx

    Should do a usability post on how awesome that table of data is Lance ;-)

  2. Rick Shera says:

    Question: If true that siri sends every voice interaction up to Apple and the answer back down, does that eat into one’s data plan?

  3. Matt Taylor says:

    @Rick: Yes. Even if it could find the answer on the phone, eg. a calendar query, it’ll send it through to Apple because it’s quicker to process. That means if something on Apple’s end is down, there’s no Siri. http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/eve-iphone-4s-nz-release-outage-reveals-siri%E2%80%99s-surprising-secret-ck-103811

    And yes. But it seems like a reasonable amount. It’ll depend on personal usage, but Ars think it’ll use about 20MB a month if you’re asking 11 questions a day. Possibly an overestimate because many questions will be asked at home/work with Wi-Fi access. http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2011/11/how-data-heavy-is-siri-on-an-iphone-4s-ars-investigates.ars

  4. Bill Baggins says:

    Lance, you are a tosser. Who uses 6GB of data in Australia? Are you mental? Who would send 50 SMS per day without signing to their text boost? Your analysis is completely invalid. Hardly an impartial view. For the average iPhone user, it looks god to me and better than my iPhone on Voda which is rubbish – at guess it means I use hardly any data!

    • Lance Wiggs says:

      Bilbo While the first statement may well be true, ad hominem statements are not welcome here.

      I used 6.66GB of data in Australia, but I did so using local Telstra and Vodafone sim cards, and that cost me about $200. I used a lot of data there because I was working, and taking maximum advantage of tools like Dropbox which constantly send updates to files, and I subscribe to iTunes TV shows like the Daily Show (250Mb a pop). I also don’t let lousy plans get in the way of using internet properly, as it is in other places.

      If you think this is nuts, then just wait a few years and we can all have a good laugh. International data use rose at a cumulative average of 56% each year to Australasia over the last 10 years (TeleGeography numbers). Given time we will all all be gobbling a lot more data. L

  5. G’day Lance – thanks for the blog post.

    Our Smartphone plans are currently the most data intensive plans in the market (eg, the Smartphone $140 plan has 3GB data), which is loads for most of our customers. And you’re right, intensive users like yourself wanting even more data are best to add a mobile broadband boost.

    For anyone that wants to make sure they’re getting best value, we’re very happy to go over your usage and make sure you’re on the best plan, at one of our stores, on the phone at 123, or by tweeting us at @telecomnz.

    Cheers

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  7. Lance Wiggs says:

    Thank Richard, and thanks for making it clear that the 4GB+4GB add-on is available for these plans. It would be great if we could purchase these from the set-up page (as with the texts) rather than having to dig around, visit stores or make calls.

  8. Spazalicious says:

    Crikey, I’m glad I don’t use a cellphone!

  9. Lance, Australian use is a red herring. No one is going to offer you high or unlimited overseas roaming. Buy a local simcard like a sensible person. Or find WIFI like the rest of us.

    Looking at the base prices, they compare very well to UK prices. Eg:

    (UK Prices are for the iPhone4, as the 4S is 100% sold out, and I can’t find pricing. Also I can’t do the GBP sign on this keyboard :( )

    NZ: 300 mins/300txt/2GB: $100 + $49 up front, 24 months.
    UK: 300 mins/unlimited txt*/1GB: GBP 36 + 304 upfront ($70 + $610 up front!). 24 months.

    NZ: 300 mins, 300 txt, 2GB, no contract. $100 + $1029 upfront.
    UK: 300 mins, unlimited txt, 1GB, no contract. GBP 25 + 499 ($50 + $1000 up front)
    * O2 only does unlimited SMS now. They dont bother metering it.

    As you point out, the difference is in the overage, and while I LOVE IT that Telecom is now an actual player, rather than a company which I wouldn’t touch with a 30 foot pole (oddly, Voda, my previous “favourate”, is one I’d not touch with someone else’s 30 foot pole… how times change!).

    I really wish they would do sensible overage. O2 is about average here – not bad, not amazingly good – for overage (vodaUK sucks. 3 is 100% unlimited everything for 35/month). If you go over the 500meg/1GB, they will warn you, ask you to move up to another tier, charge you more (unspecified amount) or cut you off. They specifically block P2P and NNTP.

    In NZ, I think they need to do something sensible, and while this is better, this is not it. The $80 for 2GB is ok (bit on the high side), then $80 for another 2GB, but why stop there? Why not have as:

    $40 for 1GB, $80 for 2 etc. I commit to paying this regardless of how much I use.

    if I go over, I get charged at ($80 / 2GB) 3c/MB (same price as the original blocks) for anything I use over that. If I’m on the $40 one, it might be more per MB over, as I’ve committed to paying less. This is pretty much what they do on their prepaid plans.

    It’s also simpler, Use X, pay Y. It works the same as voice and text. The current method is just confusing.

    the old reason for overage – “we need to budget our bandwidth! we have to charge more ‘cos we have to buy it at a higher cost” is BS these days.

    That said, I use my phone freely, with tethering (ipad mostly), and to be honest, I use around 350meg/month. When I was in NZ – with a lot less wifi – I was using around 1GB a month, but we were on holiday and travelling around, so it wasn’t exactly “normal” use anyway.

    Telecom: B+, getting better, but still not quite there.
    Vodafone NZ: I will never be a customer again. Ever.

    • Ian says:

      When I was in the UK I grabbed a T-Mobile SIM. #5 ($10) for 30 days “unlimited” Internet. #20 ($40) for six months unlimited Internet.

      From memory it had a fair use policy, but it allowed me to just not worry – if I needed Internet, I could use it. I could tether (until my laptop died…) and work.

      When I had 3GB on Vodafone it was almost the same (and I had the reassurance that even downloading constantly their network was so slow I’d barely hit 1GB in a month). But the 500MB Telecom have now (on the $40 plan) requires caution.

      The “not worrying” thing is what I want. I think Lance is exceptional wanting 10+GB per month, but he shouldn’t be. We should all be able to just “use” our phones (and tablets, laptops, whatever) without needing to worry about $2000 bills.

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