Optus is revamping global roaming as part of a sweeping revamp of its mobile phone plans, with options ranging from add-on bundles of 1-4GB of data roaming per month to a top-shelf plan with 10GB of roaming – albeit at an equally top-shelf price.
Let Executive Traveller bring you up to speed on the new globetrotter-friendly roaming packages, and how they compares to the offerings of Telstra and Vodafone.
Optus One offers a little of everything
The new Optus One plan lands as the company’s flagship scheme with a whopping 500GB of domestic data and 10GB of roaming data for a hefty $119 per month.
The roaming is available across what Optus categorises as ‘Zone 1’ countries, and includes unlimited talk and texting.
Primarily centred on North America, Asia and Europe, Zone 1 includes Canada and the USA, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, the UK, and almost all European countries, as well as New Zealand, Fiji and others, indicated in teal below:
Despite the $119/month price tag, Optus One may prove to be good value for high flyers who regularly visit these destinations, particularly when making longer visits where daily roaming rates would quickly add up.
There's also unlimited domestic talk and text, unlimited international talk and text from within Australia to a separate list of 35 countries, ‘network priority', offering faster download speeds in Australia during peak periods, and a "dedicated 24/7 Optus One expert" with customers issued "a unique number to call or SMS anytime so they are personally taken care of."
Optus One is a plan “for a multitude of consumers in the Australian market that travel extensively, are time poor and want a one-to-one customer service experience,” explains Matt Williams, Managing Director Marking and Revenue at Optus.
New Optus SIM plans mix price, inclusions
In simplifying its other pricing, Optus also now offers Small, Medium, Large, and Extra Large post-paid SIM only plans, some of which also include international roaming within the monthly fee: that is, at no extra cost per day.
Both the Large ($59/month) and Extra Large ($79/month) plans offer unlimited talk and text within Zone 1 countries as identified on the map above, with Large plans also providing 2GB of roaming data – and the Extra Large plans, 4GB of roaming data – for use while abroad in those same destinations.
However, there’s a catch: exceed that data allowance and you’ll be billed for international roaming at the full retail rates. That's a $1 per MB sting in those Zone 1 countries, as well as in most other overseas locations where included roaming isn’t available, amounting to a whopping $1,024 per GB.
These plans also offer unlimited talk and text from within Australia to a separate set of countries – including many of the Zone 1 destinations where members can roam, along with the likes of Brazil – plus 100GB (Large) or 120GB (Extra Large) of monthly data to use within Australia, and unlimited domestic calls to most numbers.
The lower-priced Medium and Small SIM only plans don’t include roaming, however, although Medium does offer the same inclusion of unlimited calls and text to set overseas countries made from within Australia, as with the higher plans.
Build your own Optus post-paid plan
Those with more specific roaming needs – or who require more of one thing and less of another – may instead find better value in building their own plan, where the amount of domestic data, international calls/texts, and roaming inclusions can be customised.
All plans include unlimited standard calls and texts within Australia as standard, paired with a choice from each of the following categories. The amount of domestic data selected dictates the plan’s base monthly price:
- Domestic data: 30GB ($45), 60GB ($47), 100GB ($55), 120GB ($67) and 150GB ($79).
- International calls and texts from Australia to select destinations: No inclusion by default. Add unlimited text and 500 minutes of calls for $1 per month to the above plans, or unlimited texts and unlimited calls to the same countries for $2 per month.
- Zone 1 international roaming: No inclusion by default. Add 1GB of data with unlimited calls and texts while roaming in Zone 1 countries for $5 per month on the 30GB and 60GB base plans, or $1 per month on plans with 100GB+ of domestic data. Make that 2GB and pay $10/$2 per month, or 4GB for $18/$10 per month – with those discounts being for customers on those 100GB+ Australian plans.
Combine everything to get your final price. For instance, a customer choosing 30GB of data at home, with no international minutes or texts send from Australia, but 2GB of Zone 1 roaming data (with calls and texts also covered in Zone 1) would be charged $55 per month, being $45 + $10.
It’s worth noting that this DIY approach also gives a 10GB domestic data option for $39 per month, although the options for international calls, texts, and Zone 1 roaming cannot be added to this plan. Instead, you’ll need to select the 30GB option at $45 per month (or higher) to be eligible.
Optus Travel Packs for overseas roaming
Separate to the options above, Optus also continues to offer 'travel packs' as a roaming add-on for plans that don’t otherwise include international roaming.
Priced at $10 per day, these packs offer unlimited calls and texts from Zone 1 countries, plus 100MB of daily roaming data, which is cumulative. For example, when roaming for seven days, purchasing a seven-day Optus Travel Pack costs $70, and offers 700MB in total data, which can be used at any time across that week-long window.
Given the price tag, these packs are better-suited to travellers who only venture abroad occasionally, as those who visit those Zone 1 countries more regularly may find savings by choosing a plan where Zone 1 roaming is included in the plan’s base price.
Optus vs Telstra, Vodafone on roaming
When it comes to international roaming, Optus is currently the only telco of the ‘Big Three’ where this can be included as standard within the monthly plan price – Telstra, however, sells International Day Passes as roaming add-ons, while Vodafone has $5/day roaming.
On the one hand, an advantage of Vodafone’s $5 roaming is that customers can use the full inclusions of their home plan while travelling overseas, including their entire domestic data allowance – up to 120GB/month on some plans – while only being charged $5 per day in countries covered by the deal.
Comparatively, Optus puts aside a much smaller pile of data for use while roaming, with charges levied for exceeding the allowance topping $1,024 per GB ($1/MB) in most countries.
A customer using 120GB of out-of-plan roaming data would be hit with charges of $122,880 with Optus, which is much higher than Vodafone’s $5/day for access to their plan’s total data allowance, even when factoring in Vodafone’s extra charge of $10 per GB for data consumed beyond a plan’s usual limits.
Telstra customers must instead remember to activate the appropriate number of International Day Passes before their roaming commences, charged at $5/day in New Zealand and $10/day in other countries covered by the deal, with calls and texts included, but only 200MB of data per day.
It’s also worth remembering that each of the three telcos nominates the list of countries where these better-value roaming options can be used – versus pay-as-you-go roaming elsewhere at much higher rates – and those included countries vary between providers.
For example, only Telstra provides lower-cost roaming in the United Arab Emirates, home to the global travel hubs of Abu Dhabi and Dubai as are popular with Australians, while travellers planning a South American adventure would look to Vodafone for $5 roaming in Peru, which isn’t covered by Telstra’s International Day Pass and is a ‘Zone 2’ country with Optus, rather than the more favourable Zone 1.
Similarly, Optus groups Mongolia in that Zone 1 set where these plans’ inclusive roaming can be used at no extra charge, which isn’t a destination covered by the Telstra International Day Pass or Vodafone’s $5 roaming.