Looking for the easiest way of getting connected and staying in touch when you first arrive in Australia? There are a variety of short term and more permanent solutions available dependent on your usage and communication needs.
Using your existing Mobile Phone – If your existing phone provider has an International Roaming Agreement with an Australian network you can access that with your existing phone. Your local network provider can give you further details and explain the costs involved. Warning: This in many cases is an expensive option especially for any data usage. If you do use this service we suggest you turn off your data and use your phone for texts and short phone calls till you find a local/longer term solution.
If your mobile handset is ‘unlocked’ (not locked to a certain mobile phone provider) you may be able to use the handset after purchasing a local sim card.
Pre-paid Mobile Phone Option – This is the easiest way to get started when you first arrive. You can purchase a pre-paid handset, sim and minimal calling credits for $49 - $250 dependent on make/model of handset. You will find these phones on offer at Post offices, Supermarkets and Phone shops. You can purchase additional calling credit as required (this can be bought in supermarkets/newsagents and convenience stores) or you can also top up your credit on line. Calls cost approximately 92c per minute at peak times and 34c off peak.
Post-Paid Mobile Phone Option – Taking a contract out with a phone provider usually means lower phone costs and capped planned contracts can offer additional benefits such as unlimited texting/social data services and bonus credit. Contracts are usually either for a 12 or 24 month term. Entry level for a Sim only contract (when you provide your own handset) is approximately $20 a month or for a contract that includes a handset (which is charged over the course of the term) prices start at around $30 a month – for an IPhone 4 or later model you would be expected to be on a $60 a month plan or above. Pay close attention to call and data inclusions as going over your quota can result is very high excess charges. You can check your current data usage, to ensure you stay on track, online or by calling their allocated number.
CALLING OVERSEAS? Here are the best ways to keep down the cost of calling family and friends back home:
- Some mobile phone plans offer more competitive rates for overseas calls – ask your provider re options.
- Calling cards that offer low cost overseas calls (subject to first dialling a number and entering a Pin) can be purchased at convenience stores (for about $10) and are a good way to reduce costs and manage your spend. You can top up your calling credits with a credit card. Try: www.cardcall.com.au
- Skype is one of the cheapest ways to make overseas calls if you have an internet connection at home (or a Skype App on your phone) with the added benefit of being able to see your friends/family if you have a camera function. www.skype.com
- Viber is an App that lets you make free calls and texts to other Viber members. www.viber.com
- WhatsApp allows you to send free texts and photo messages to other WhatsApp users. www.whatsapp.com
- Voxer is a walkie Talkie style App that allows you to leave free voice messages for other Voxer users. You can purchase Voxer from the itunes store: www.voxer.com
Mobile Internet - This is the easiest way to get connected to the Internet right away with the added bonus that it is a portable option. You can either purchase a USB modem which clicks in to your laptop, a Wi Fi modem that stands on your desk/you carry in your pocket or a SIM (for ipad and mobile use). Costs vary between devices and providers – expect to pay approximately $79 for a Vodaphone USB modem to up to $299 for a Telstra Wi Fi Modem. You can purchase data credits and top up as required or monthly online or in store – this allows you to manage your spend. You can also take out a 12 or 24 monthly data contract which can include the price of the device with the cost spread over the term of the plan. A contract often means you get better rates but you are tied in for a set period – charges over your agreed usage can be charged at a premium. These portable internet devices are good for light to medium users with average data quotas starting from 2Gig.
Wireless Internet – If you want broad coverage at home you can take out a 6/12/24 month contract with one of the main providers – TPG, Telstra, DoDo. Expect to pay around $69 and above for the modem (which plugs in to a phone line) and approximately $59.99 a month for unlimited data usage. This option is best for higher users who want to ensure no excess data charges and want to access the internet over a range of devices in the home.
Free Wifi – Australia offers free Wifi in most libraries, some cafes/hotels and even on the beach, but it is more limited than in some countries such as the UK and USA. In Sydney the ferries offer free Wi-Fi.To find your nearest Wi-Fi outlet you can download an APP called WI-Fi Finder – see http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.kapron.ap.hotspot