The Australian mobile network has seen significant growth in its 4G mobile users over the past 2 years. Telstra was the first to launch its 4G network and has taken a significant lead in customers using it. Optus followed over 12 months ago with its own 4G LTE network and has also enjoyed significant growth. Earlier this year, Vodafone also launched its 4G network promising the fastest 4G speeds in select CBD locations.
During this time, every new mobile phone that has entered the market has also launched with a 4G version. This has not been limited to the major mobile phone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung, we have also seen HTC and smaller players like Huawei join the 4G race.
The result for the consumer has been greater choice and improved pricing atleast in terms of handset options.
For those looking to try any of the three 4G networks, options include any mobile plan with a 24 month contract. Telstra, Vodafone and Optus all provide you with access to the 4G network if the plan runs for at least 24 months.
More recently, Optus launched some sim only mobile plans with came without the phone and the contract and also gave access to 4G speeds. Telstra and Vodafone have also followed this trend opening up their networks to more consumers.
In terms of prepaid options, Telstra gives all prepaid customers access to its 4G network, no matter the prepaid plan. Optus limits it to one plan in the Optus Prepaid Social. Vodafone is yet to launch anything for its prepaid mobile customer base.
When you eventually get around to trying 4G, you will enjoy super fast data speeds. Having compared all three networks, speeds can sometimes reach 10 times the speed of their 3G network. What you also will find however is that data will also be consumed super fast.
On my regular 3G network, my Samsung S4 consumes about 800MB each month with my general data usage. Having tried each of the 4G networks and their respective prepaid offers, I found that I was consuming over 150MB per day with my limited testing. On these experiences I would expect a whole month’s access to consume 2-3GB. This is 2 – 3 times what I consume on the 3G network.
If you are looking to jump on the 4G bandwagon, here are some tips:
- Ensure that the plan offers per KB data increments not per MB. The smaller the increments the less data wastage you will have and the less you could pay in excess charges.
- If you are unsure what your 4G data bill will look like, test it out with a prepaid plan first.
- If you can find a plan which offers unlimited social media, jump on it, particularly if this where you spend most of your data.
- Adjust the settings of your phone so that when you actually arrive at home and have wifi setup, your mobile will use the data from your main wifi account not your 4G sim card.
- Finally, set the mobile application on your phone to only update when you have wifi access or when you want them to. This will ensure that your data is not wasted just updating applications.
4G is superfast but if you are not careful it can turn out to be super costly.