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Australians Getting Raw Deal iPhone 3G Plans

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I don’t usually go off topic here at ProBlogger but just having seen the Telstra Plans for the iPhone 3G (a device I was excited to be able to use in my blogging) I’m incredibly frustrated.

If you’re sick of iPhone blog posts today – feel free to skip this little rant – but I needed to get it off my chest.

Having had to wait until tomorrow to officially be able to buy an iPhone in Australia (I resisted the urge to import one and hack it like 60,000 other Australians did) I was excited that Apple were going global with the iPhone 3G. I was also excited to hear Steve Jobs talk about its affordability.

3 carriers are selling the iPhone tomorrow here in Australia – Telstra (the only one who can deliver full speed pretty much nationally), Optus and Vodaphone. All have been quite secretive about their plans – particularly the cost of data (important as the iPhone is going to be used for data quite a bit – particularly for me as a blogger).

I understand the secrecy to a degree – but with less than 12 hours before some of them open their stores to customers wanting to buy the phone to have not released all information on their plans is not really helping customers make an informed choice. Telstra’s website encourages people to go to their stores for more information – I’ve been to two and staff knew next to nothing except for the release date.

I travel around Australia quite a bit so ideally want to stay with Telstra (my current carrier). They have always been quite expensive but for the coverage I’ve been willing to stick with them in the past and have bought myself a wireless modem for on the road blogging – ie I’ve never used data with Telstra as last time I checked it cost $5 for 5MB!).

Forums are going crazy here in Australia today as Telstra’s iPhone plans (pdf) have been leaked by Telstra employees.

I won’t go through all of the plan options here (you can download it yourself if you care to do so) but the plans are ridiculous – laughably so. They don’t include all details (like excess data costs, call rates, connection costs etc).

The Plans

A $35 per month plan on the 8GB iPhone will get you the iPhone for $279, $25 of calls per month (note: we don’t know the call rate but they are normally about 30-40c per 30 seconds with Telstra 3G so this is 60-80 minutes a month) and 5MB of data (that’s enough to download 1 iPhone Ap and then be over your limit). This is a 24 month plan.

To get anything approaching the kind of data you need you need to go up to an $89 plan:

An $89 plan will get you the 8GB iPhone for $279, $25 of calls and 200MB of data.

I’m not sure how much data I’ll need but I’m suspecting 200MB will not really be enough. I’d probably need a minimum of 500MB but 1GB would be good for when on the road. $25 of calls isn’t enough either!

In terms of my data and call requirements I think I’d need to go to a plan costing $169 a month which would get me the phone for free, 1GB of data and $70 of calls. If I wanted a 16GB iPhone the same plan would cost me $189 and include $90 of calls).

$189 per month for 24 months?

I could switch to another carrier for cheaper options (Optus seems to have the best on offer – but are still much more expensive than what I’ve seen elsewhere in the world) but would lose coverage and speed when outside major cities.

The 1GB plan with Optus is $99 a month with $94 of calls and a free handset over 12 months. With Vodaphone it’s $169 a month for 1GB but you get $1200 of calls.

I currently have a phone that costs me around $40 a month (I got a free Nokia phone with that) for calls and mobile broadband with ’3′ that costs me $29 per month and gives me 2GB of data. I’ve got me a slightly dated iPod that does the job too if I need a music and photo player.

So today when Apple sent me an email reminding me that the ‘affordable’ iPhone is being released tomorrow and that I should go out and pick one up I replied to the email with an ‘expression of disappointment’ in their partners and the comment that I think I’ll go and get me a new Nokia. I think I might go and find me a new carrier too!

PS: Just got an email from Telstra telling me where I can pick up an iPhone. They have them at 15 stores in the whole of Australia! That’s like 1 store for every 1.42 million Australians! Way to go Telstra!

Update: for a good round up of the Australian Blogosphere’s reaction to the iPhone and pricing of plans see AcidLabs.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. guinness416 says:

    Well if it makes you feel any better I think even the Aussie deal is ahead of the garbage plans the options Canadians are being offered.

  2. Darren,

    Not really familiar with the way Australia runs its mobile business. How many minutes does $25 get you? All of the plans in the US are based on minutes. The first generation iPhone had a starting plan of:

    $59.99 for 450 minutes, plus unlimited data, 200 text messages, 5,000 night and weekend minutes, and unlimited mobile-to-mobile minutes.

    Sounds like we’re getting a killer deal here, although I know the new plans went up a bit, around $79.99 (?) for the same plan above.

  3. Dominic says:

    I think phone companies have overestimated what their customers will put up with over the iphone. We have ridiculous plans here in NZ with Vodafone being the only carrier.

  4. Hi Darren,

    Yes it’s very disappointing.

    I look beyond the personal concerns of all the individuals upset at this decision to what will be the larger impact on Australia.

    I see another nail in the coffin of Australian innovation.

    Who will create new services (that have global appeal) in a country where using them locally is cost-prohibitive?

  5. amirulcyber says:

    Sometime we need to know the advantage of the Iphone.Nice article.

  6. Tim says:

    Completely agree with your post Darren. This is shocking news for anyone who runs a web based business and travels or lives in semi remote/remote areas like me.

    We need to kick up a stink like the Canadians have – it worked for them!

  7. As guinness said above, we Canucks are getting a pretty raw deal, but it was made better earlier today, thanks in no-small-part to the bitchiness of the Canadian blogosphere.

    However, I think your kiwi-mates to the west are getting it a little bit more raw in the rear-end.

    Dunno what’s up with the terrible price fluctuations around the globe, but I’m sure something will happen in the (not-so?) future.

  8. Chetan says:

    Man you getting it already with Telstra!!!

    Here in India, one can expect an iPhone only after a couple of months :( So more waiting.
    Please send an unlocked one from there through courier, and i would pay for everything!

  9. ReddH says:

    Let me preface this by saying that I love my iPhone. I wouldn’t trade give it up or trade it for the world.
    But I am starting to feel royally screwed. I’m an early adopter, I picked up my phone the first day that it was released in the US. I pay my extra $20 for unlimited data and now I find that the next model is being released, it’s greatly improved, and it costs $400 less.
    I honestly feel as though early adopters should be given the choice to trade in their phones for either no charge or the tiniest charge imaginable.
    I’m bitter, and I know this was my decision and my own fault, but I honestly didn’t expect it to drop in price so quickly.

    I really feel, though, that not giving you an unlimited data plan is extremely unfair. I think that all of the iPhone plans should come with unlimited data as a standard, because it really is the nature of the phone to use it for data.

    I hope that you enjoy it when you get your hands on one, and good for you for not hacking it!

  10. Adam Singer says:

    Ridiculous the price gouging that goes on with some of these cell providers. Don’t give them your money!

  11. Oh yes…the joy of living in a remote part of the world! Australians are notorious early adopting phone freaks…marketers know this, and with POOR wifi options, they also know our price elasticity of demand for bandwidth is pretty high. In other words, we seem to be willing to pay through the teeth for the latest tech and our bandwidth! Right now, the Vodafone $169/month plan ain’t looking too bad??

  12. Mike Nally says:

    Hi Darren,

    I hear and understand your frustration. I can only suggest to you what I have said to so many others. Wait.

    Do not get your iPhone this weekend. Let the system figure itself out. Let the people be heard. Let the market work in your favor. Apple will still be making iPhones next week, next month, and next year. Do not sign a horrible contract just to have the iPhone as soon as possible.

    Me? Bought an iPhone day one last year. Paid $500 for a 4gb unit that was discontinued about a month later. A hard lesson learned.

  13. Grant says:

    I for one will either import one once they work out how to hack them or get a Nokia N95 which probably had a better feature set anyway.

  14. Matthalamue says:

    Hmmm I unlocked my phone for T-mobile here in the states. I pay 55 bucks a month for 600 anytime minutes unlimited night and weekends. unlimited text messages and for 5 extra bucks a month unlimited data. You are getting screwed!

  15. Chetan says:

    And offtopic in the offtopic post,

    Darren, congrats for crossing 50000 mark of subscribers for this blog :)

  16. I know people bitch about ATT here in the US, but they are nuts. Some outlined the plan above, for a whopping $59 per month. I use over 100 MB per month. My minutes rollover month to month. I have coverage everywhere I go in the US.

    Darren, vote with your dollars: don’t buy one. It sucks, but they will come around. They have to. Data is cheap. Air time is cheap. With a slowing world economy, some customers will be better than no customers. They will lower prices. My two cents.

  17. Darren, I’m as disappointed as you. The three major mobile telcos seem to have done no research into iPhone user habits outside Australia or, if they have they’ve ignored it. No telco is offering a plan that’s even remotely compelling.

    You and your readers might like to read my thoughts on the issue – http://www.acidlabs.org/2008/07/09/the-iphone-as-social-umbilical-cord-and-how-australian-telcos-dont-get-it/

    Also, Craig Thomler has a great post up from a government/policy perspective – http://egovau.blogspot.com/2008/07/is-it-time-for-government-mobile.html

  18. Riayn says:

    I would love to get an iPhone but the high monthly costs for a low amount of data puts me right off. It is just not worth it.

    If you can not do more than quickly check your email then what is the point of having an iPhone in the first place?

  19. Darren

    I’m glad you’ve warned us. I think the iphone is coming out (as phone not just touch) in Singapore in the next few weeks.

    Will need to let the dust settle maybe…

  20. Mark Jaquith says:

    So what is it about America and the “all you can eat” concept? We have near-ubiquitous free refills on sodas, teas and lemonade. Every town has multiple “all you can eat” buffets. We have all you can download data plans for 3g laptop cards, for our mobile phone/pda data usage, heck — we even have affordable “all you can talk” plans for mobile phones! My landline gives me unlimited minutes in the US and Canada, my fiberoptic Internet service is 20mbps/5mbps with no bandwidth cap.

    It seems that everyone single one of those things is hard to come by in other countries. Is it just that Americans have become slowly accustomed to the concept such that there would be riots if it were rolled back? Is there some more fundamental reason? An economic reason?

  21. Darren,

    Before I slam Telstra as near Monolopolistic pigs (oops I have already slammed them – Oh well) you forgot to mention that the Telstra plans do offer free access to any Telstra WiFi hotspot with your iPhone 3G. If you are frequently in a major city this will help offset the NextG data costs. If, however, you are in a regional area or not always near a Telstra WiFi hotspot you want to hope there are still some good Gopher servers still out there on the Internets for you to use :-)

    I wish everyone would just put aside the “OMG the iPhone! It’s so cool! I have to have one whatever the cost” mentality and just NOT buy one from ANY of the carriers. Unfortunately, the Apple marketing juggernaut has seen to it that many people will think that life is not worth living without an iPhone.

  22. S Emerson says:

    Today in the Globe and Mail, they wrote that Rogers has reconsidered their pricing due to the number of emails, phone calls and the petition.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080709.wgtiphone0709/BNStory/Technology/?page=rss&id=RTGAM.20080709.wgtiphone0709

  23. Honestly. Even though the Canadian plan sucks, its still better than this.

  24. Devesh says:

    Totally know how you feel! I’m truly dissapointed with our local telcos busy battling each other to get ahead of the (i)game – forgetting the core needs of us users – basic customer satisfaction and improving customer retention :-\

  25. Well Darren, at least it’s better than what we have in NZ.

    A 1GB plan will cost you, $199 for the phone locked into a 24 month plan & $250 for the plan.
    We only get the choice of one provider as well, Vodafone.

    Alternatively you can get the phone for $449 on a 24 month plan that will cost you $130 a month. For this you get 500MB.

  26. Ed says:

    I’m with you Darren. It’s apalling how we are rorted for data on phones here. This will be big business for good cafes than have free wifi. I’m going to wait and see before I dive in. Also I paid a deposit to Optus which only means that I can get into a story early. They are really taking the piss.

  27. StinkySQL says:

    You might have our American prices, but you can’t beat our recent legislation to also allow the government spy on us while we use them.

    Wonder if we will have to pay more for that?

    ss

  28. Tim says:

    at least we can get the iphone – though agree these are STUPID prices.
    Im trying to get the real 3g touchphone, the HTC Touch Pro 0 none of the carriers even have plans for these at all.

  29. james says:

    I encourage Australians to voice their thoughts loudly. I’m Canadian, and was surprised by the ferocious response to the high iPhone rates from all corners of the country. Rogers Wireless backed down – at least temporarily – by offering much more reasonable rates.

    That said, the market in Australia is slightly different because there are three wireless providers offering the iPhone. That makes it three times harder for potential customers to communicate their dissatisfaction (although not buying sends a pretty strong signal).

    In Canada, Rogers is the only GSM provider, and hence the only national company able to offer the iPhone. That makes it a lot easier for consumer activists to target them (and for their competition to make sweet offers on their own smartphone offerings).

    Good luck, Aussies!

  30. Mr.Gadget says:

    G’day Darren,

    It will be available from 3 Telstra stores in Victoria tomorrow. Melbourne CBD, Doncaster and Chadstone.

    Here’s an article I wrote on Australian Basic iPhone 3G Plans Compared:
    http://www.mrgadget.com.au/gadget/2008/australias-basic-iphone-3g-pricing-comparison-optus-vodafone-telstra/

    I’ll be camping out tomorrow morning; very early tomorrow morning! :(

    Regards,
    Arnold

  31. Timo says:

    One other option is probably to buy the phone outright (hopefully they will sell it in Apple stores), Jailbreak it, and then use it with another carrier, like 3. In a way, you get the phone for cheaper, and you can choose whatever data/call plan you fancy. Though, this is not the officially sanctioned way to go…

  32. Debt Dieter says:

    Optus has 3G coverage in 80% of Australia now, with plans to build up to 98% over the coming months, might be time to switch from Telstra Darren! 80 covers most place the average person would be wanting to use their phone anyway.

  33. SimonGoudie says:

    Totally agree, the plans are ridiculous. I think the Australian carriers somehow missed the boat completely as to what constitutes a decent data plan. 5mb a month is basically useless these days.

    I’m locked into another contract for a while anyway, but I hope the plans change substantially between now and when I can pickup an iPhone.

  34. David Pascoe says:

    C’mon guys don’t you realise that Telstra, Optus and Vodaphone have 2 big things driving them – that both work against offering cheap plans. They have expensive networks that their shareholders expect a good return on and 2) we know that Apple was getting a nice little back hander every month from AT&T for the v1 phone, so surely it is easy to imagine that the carriers are now subsidising the handsets in a big way. That is, we don’t know the real cost that they are paying apple per unit, one can guess it amounts to as much as $30 a month for 24 months – say a $700 subsidy to the up front payment.

    The carriers have apple exactly where they like to have all smart phone providers. Expensive handsets subsidised up front and locked in for long contracts. The real money they will make is during the contract when you go over the bandwidth and minutes.

  35. Luke says:

    The telco’s are all getting kicked.. which is pretty justified for Vodafone and Telstra who are keeping their terms quiet until the last minute..that’s b.s… but let’s not forget that Apple is pulling all the strings here. Every telco is under non-disclosure obligations to maintain the “buzz” for a global launch date. The stores don’t even know how many units they’re getting – which are due to arrive overnight or first thing tomorrow. It’s what we love and hate about Apple – their monopoly power.. I’d like to say stuff it and walk away but it’s they’re using their power to design pretty toys.. which I think will be really useful!

  36. Donovan says:

    @ Mark Jaquith

    Yes, it’s called economies of scale and a market that can support it. It’s also called good customer service. Something which many countries lack, including Australia’s “fit in and shut up or piss off” customer service policies. For all it’s failings, the US has great customer service, always going the extra mile because they understand the value of a long term customer. Hence, all you can eat, hence, unlimited minutes, hence, free refills.

    God bless the USA! =)

    BTW, what mobile broadband are you using to get unlimited data? All of seen is Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and they only go up to 2Gig… Maybe it’s not the service you’re talking about.

  37. Mark says:

    @ David Pascoe – I read an article somewhere on the net this morning that stated that the iPhone handsets were being subsidized to the tune of US$300 by the carriers.

    We sit in South Africa with only one service provider (Vodacom) for the iPhone at this stage. They also haven’t given any indication of the costs yet (the phone is apparently going to be available around the end of this month) but going by past experience, only the top end of the market will be able to afford one. Data is hellish expensive across all networks here and network coverage is pretty pathetic compared to your “first world” countries.

    And, apart from the fact that we don’t have access to the iTunes store here in SA, the GPS navigation capabilities of the phone are looking even less desirable (3G iPhone GPS Navigation in South Africa – Gimmick or Godsend?).

    So, what exactly would we be buying this phone for again? Ah yes, for making calls… But aren’t there other phones available that can do this too? ;-)

  38. These plans are very expensive, but Apple is not crazy, they just want our money…

  39. Andy Merrett says:

    Seems the UK has one of the best deals going, even compared to the US now. I suppose it comes from being in such a mobile-saturated market. I know people here moan about O2, and we don’t get an official choice as they’re still exclusive, but for £35pm (AU$72) you get 600 minutes of talk, 500 texts, unlimited 3G Internet, unlimited Wi-Fi at around 9,000 hotspots, free Visual Voicemail.

    I do feel for those particularly in Canada and Australia that are getting raw data deals. I don’t think the telcos get it. Unlimited data (with fair use, of course) is fairly common in the UK now.

    Time will tell whether O2 start capping heavy online users, and by how much, but effectively a few GB per month should be fine.

  40. Dareen, I feel the same way up here in Canada. Rogers has got to be one of the biggest telecom thieves to ever grace this earth. I am disgusted at the way they price their plans. I hope BELL takes over.

  41. Meant to write *Darren*… its early morning :D forgive me.

  42. James Kolacz says:

    Don’t they have an unlimited plan for data? At&t does here int he states. Drop 20 bucks a month and u can surf your brains out.

  43. Here’s the thing … this is what happens when Apple lets go of the iPhone. Apple & it’s Apple stores has made an art of the “experience” aka Starbucks experience … with a unique kind of customer service.

    But now that they have let go of the iPhone and let the carriers handle it (who SUCK at customer service), the iPhone becomes just another fancy phone. Especially outside the U.S., it looks like. Big issue, since there are other phone manu’s who make iPhone-similar phones now.

    Let’s see what this means for Apple & the iPhone.

    ~ Elizabeth

  44. Sangesh says:

    Gosh… I just don’t know when plans like this will be there in our country. I’d love to get my hands on one of these beautiful sets.

  45. redwall_hp says:

    The ProBlogger homepage weighs in at around 610KB. There are 1000KB in a megabyte if I’m not mistaken. So that means you should be able to load your index about… 327 times? (I’m not great at math, but it sounds about right). 610KB seems like a fairly average size for a webpage, so you should be able to load 327 pages in a month (and then you have all your push data, emails, tweets, etc). If you load any media files, such as podcasts, you’ll really eat through your 200MB of data. Really, I think it’s tiny. 200 gigabytes would be more fair.

  46. MJ Ray says:

    I recently had a bad experience in the UK with downloading media files and a per-byte data plan. When you’re using data, you need a reasonable unmetered quota.

    The other thing is that no matter how great the iPhone is, it’s not worth a bad plan *or* bad customer service. So show them. Don’t buy the iPhone. Let the lemmings discover what you already know: the plan is bad and the service is bad.

    Open platform phones (Java and Maemo) seem to have better blog clients anyway.

  47. Paul says:

    How to ruin a good product:

    1) Make a good product
    2) Let a telco set the pricing

    Telstra, as with their NextG launch, have decided to price the iPhone into obscurity. I don’t know who makes these decisions over at Telstra HQ, but they are either very stupid or very very stupid. People would snap up the iPhone if it was more like $80/mth for “practically all you can eat calls” and 1Gb of data.

    Its a shame the other two can’t match the 3G coverage because their pricing is a bit more reasonable (in fact Optus seems pretty good to me).

  48. Nick Stewart says:

    I currently have no desire to buy one of these and it’s not just about saving the purchase price.

    I have an 80 GB video iPod that is full of music, videos, and audio books for the bus commute to and from work.

    My video iPod also doubles as a backup hard drive when I need to transfer larges file between home and work.

    Read my 6 reasons for NOT buying one:
    http://www.nickstraffictricks.com/6-reasons-i-am-not-buying-the-new-iphone-3g/

  49. you think thats bad, us kiwis have to pay $250 a month (24 months) and $200 for the phone.. or $1000+ for a iphone (no plan)..

    rippoff springs to mind ;)

  50. Jon Moss says:

    To be completely honest, it is about time Australia had a rubbish deal for something.

    I mean come on, look at your weather compared to the UK! ;-)

    Free iPhone for me on an upgrade and only £45 per month for UNLIMITED data! Woot!

    On a serious note, there seems to be some HUGE discrepancy between all the countries in regards to plans, but not surprising. For once, the UK is pretty good value.