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Tech Talk Radio Show 42 of 2010
Transmission date: October 18, 2010
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Ep 42 of 2010
October 18, 2010

The mobile phone market in Australia is evolving at a rapid rate. Telstra, who has the best coverage and the fastest network, has become quite aggressive in the market place with some offerings giving the discount brands a run for their money, if not beating them at their own game. Caps have been traditionally the choice of Australian consumers, but here too, it seems the tide is turning with Telstra offering pre paid mobile caps.

Recently, the ACCC and the phone companies have worked out an agreement which offers consumers peace of mind over their purchase for the length of their phone contract. It's a good step forward considering contract users were left high and dry if their phone became faulty in the last 12 months of a contract.

If your contract is due for renewal, then it's time to shop around to find the deal that best suits you. Grab a few bills and a cup of coffee and have a look at your calling habit. Are you a person with a voice, or do you like to text? Maybe you're a data junkie, but whatever your vice, the time's are a changing from a plan point of view.

If you like to talk, most companies offer a level of free talk time, either to selected users, or with their networks. These are great, but check your bill to see if you're using this offering as you may think you are. If you like to let your fingers do the communicating, look for a good SMS plan. Some companies do and some don't include SMS in caps. Some even offer unlimited plans, but beware, everything has limits so be sure to read the fine print. Then there's data.

If you have a need to be online or you're considering a smart phone or iPad, then data needs to be a careful consideration, as traditionally, this is the telco cash cow. If you're a city slicker, then you have more choice than your country counterparts. From experience Huchison 3 and Optus provide slow mobile broadband. These guys are known to over sell capacity, leaving a lot of users to share a finite resource. Vodafone and Telstra tend to have faster mobile broadband with Telstra having by far the fastest and best rural coverage. Beware though, as faster broadband access can use up data allocations quicker.

If your contract is nearly up, consider the purchase of your new smartphone as an outright purchase. This lets you take advantage of new offerings in a very competitive market place, and chop and change providers if you need to. On the other hand re contracting, with a new handset will give you an extended handset warranty, but limit your ability to switch plans, carriers and devices. Everyone's needs are different, so look at your current usage habit to make the best choice for you.

Finally, don't discount a pre paid service. You can still automate a refill, but with a raft of new prepaid caps coming on to the market, you can recharge as required, meaning in quite months, you don't need to pay as much, and for those heavy months, a bit more headroom can be a savior to your back pocket.

It's not in a phone company's or ISP's interest to tell you about better offers. It's just not in their blood. It's up to you, the consumer, to shop around with an open mind and compare products and telcos. If you do nothing or put it in the too hard basket, you may live to regret it. Market forces and technological change have never given the edge to the consumer like it currently does. 2 years is an incredibly long time in technology, so why not be a savvy consumer, and let the good times roll. You've got nothing to lose.

This week on Tech Talk Radio

  • Adam Turner asks, does Microsoft have what it takes to win us over to their new Phone 7smartphones
  • Telstra to unlock its iPhones for free and No more big roaming charges when overseas.
  • Optus to go unlimited mobile browsing
  • Microsoft turns on reputation check for IE9 and
  • If you're and Android user, you may get an Ice Cream soon. Maybe.