Optus slashes global roaming rates, launches flat-price travel packs

By David Flynn, August 21 2013
Optus slashes global roaming rates, launches flat-price travel packs

Optus is streamlining its global roaming plans and slashing the cost of overseas voice, text and data as Australia's mobile carriers finally begin to get realistic about roaming.

The telco's move comes ahead of next week's launch by Vodafone of its new Roam Like Home plans, which will allow Australian subscribers to use their plan's voice, text and data allowances in the USA, UK and New Zealand for an additional $5 per day.

From the middle of next month Optus will debut cheaper flat-rate voice, SMS and data and divide the world into just two Optus Travel Rate zones, down from the current handful of five.

Zone 1 will cover Asia, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, Europe, the UK, the USA and Canada, where most calls will cost a flat $1 per minute with 50c/MB for data and 50c per SMS.

Zone 2 includes Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, with rates double those for Zone 1: calls will be charged at $2 per minute, data at $1/MB and texts at $1 per message.

By way of comparison, under Optus' current AutoRoam plans data is charged at a $20/MB, while the current average call cost for most countries now in Optus' Zone 1 is around $1.40/minute for local calls and $3.20 for dialling overseas. The new flat rates cover local and international calls plus incoming calls.

$10/day Optus Travel Packs

Optus will also introduce an add-on $10 per day Optus Travel Pack for Zone 1 countries. This will let Australian subscribers use their Optus SIM card and number overseas with what the carrier promises as 'unlimited talk and text' plus 50MB per day of data.

If you go over that 50MB daily ceiling you'll be charged at the new Zone 1 data rate of 50c/MB.

However, Optus' current Data Travel Passes offering unlimited data in 10 Asian countries for between $10 and $40 over 1-5 days will be axed.

One key point of difference between the new Optus and Vodafone roaming schemes is that the Optus travel rates are available on all plans, whereas Vodafone will require subscribers to sign up to a range of new 'premium' plans (prices of which will be revealed next week).

Communications consumer action group ACANN has welcomed Optus' new plans, with spokesman Asher Moses saying "it's good to see telcos taking action on the global roaming rip off."

"Consumers are increasingly aware that they are being taken for a ride by providers addicted to the massive profits derived from the global roaming rort. Global roaming charges have for too long been way too high and do not come close to reflecting the true cost of providing the service."

However, Moses adds that "it's likely that buying a local SIM card at their destination will still be a much cheaper option for travellers. Optus' $10 a day bolt on would mean paying $70 a week extra and that's on top of your normal plan fees."

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

17 May 2012

Total posts 81

OK Telstra...over to you ( reluctantly )

How many years has this taken?  Greedy telcos.  Voda rolls out changes to their international roaming rates, then Optus jump onboard... sadly this is so predictable.  Can I suggest you spend your money on your network Optus? 


Qantas P1

18 Jan 2012

Total posts 73

In US this week and I've got these packages added for eight days. Only niggly thing is having to call to get them activated. An online system would be preferred. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 50

Finally! when I first saw Vodafone was jumping on this, I was hoping Optus would be soon to follow.

That along with the new my plans, they are final taking notice to all those ombudsman fines, I mean what customers want!

for me personally, this will mean I will most likely (depending on location) leave my Optus sim card in when I travel, rather than giving the money to the destination carrier.

the only thing is I don’t think 30MB is going to be enough, but it’s pretty close to being good value, just a little more data please


With the new apps available on smart phones ( Skype, Viber and Whatsapp), all you need is a data connection for the majority of users. I did this last week. I bought a local Vodafone sim whilst in Uk ( 1GB of data for 20 pounds) and my colleages and friends who i talked to overseas via viber and whatsapp where totally unaware that I had changed my SIM or phone number.  I hopped between 3G and Wifi in UK and my whatsapp texts arrived and Viber phone calls worked fine. As a bonus i had 500 real national calling minutes from Vodafone and unlimited UK texts.   Much better value that $5 per day for a long trip! 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Aug 2012

Total posts 210

$10/day you say? Compare with T-Mobile  in the US: a $50/month SIM, with local calls,SMS unlimited with more data than you will ever need, with an optional $10/month (not day!) unlimited overseas calls. Downside is that o/s calls must be to a landline, but hey, it's much better than anything on offer here. Walk in to the T-Mobile store with your unlocked phone and walk out with a local number and new monthly plan all activated and reaby to use.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 May 2011

Total posts 35

Agreed! T-Mobile is the only way to go for a few days in the States.

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