Telstra jacks up data, prices on international roaming plans

By David Flynn, December 3 2015
Telstra jacks up data, prices on international roaming plans

LATEST | Telstra has backed down on its decision to more than triple some international data roaming costs after an outcry from the telco's travelling customers.

Changes due to take effect from today would have seen the cost of excess data on the company's Travel Pass plans jump from 3c/MB to 10c/MB.

Telstra CEO Andrew Penn said he would "scrap" that increase, saying it "didn't sit well" with him.

"Customers clearly told us the same so it’s my responsibility to act on behalf of our customers.” 

However, the shift of some countries into more expensive Travel pass 'zones' – including Indonesia and Thailand, which will see plan costs double – remains in place.

PREVIOUS | Changes to Telstra's global voice and data roaming plans will see many travellers paying significantly more for the telco's international travel passes from this week.

Although data allowances have been increased by 50% across the board, the cost of exceeding your overseas data allowance more than triples from 3c/MB to 10c/MB.

And while Telstra has added some 20 countries to its global roaming roster, almost 30 countries already covered by the travel pass scheme will see roaming charges increased by as much as 100% – in some cases without any extra data as part of the plan.

The sweeping revamp of the Telstra travel pass system kicks in on December 3: here's what you need to know.

Global roaming zones

Telstra continues to sort overseas countries into 'zones' for which you can buy a Travel Pass that's good for three, days, seven days, 14 days and 30 days.

These allow unlimited calls and text messages to standard numbers anywhere in the world, plus a data allowance valid for the duration of that pass.

(As always, the longer your say in any country, the better off you'll be by grabbing a prepaid SIM card for a local mobile phone network instead of paying roaming charges to your Australia-based carrier.)

From December 3, Telstra will increase the amount of data on tap – but also shift many countries from a cheaper zone to a more expensive zone.

Telstra international travel pass, zone 1

Zone 1 has previously covered New Zealand, Indonesia and Thailand, but from December 3 will be a Kiwi-only zone.

Pricing remains at $15 for a three day pass, $35 for seven days, $70 for 14 days and $150 for 30 days, but data allowances get a 50% boost.

For example, the entry-level three day pass goes up from a meagre 150MB to a marginally more useful 225MB; the seven day pass steps up from 350MB to 525MB.

Telstra international travel pass, zone 2

Zone 2 will be pared back from 35 countries across Asia, Europe and North America to become an essentially Asian travel pass for 12 countries around the region including China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan, along with New Zealand.

Pricing for Zone 2 remains at twice that for Zone 1 – $30 for three days, $70 for seven days, $140 for 14 days and $300 for 30 days – but with the same amount of data.

Travellers to Indonesia and Thailand will feel a severe sting as those countries are moving from Zone 1 to Zone 2, so the cost of a travel pass becomes double what it used to be.

Telstra international travel pass, zone 3

Telstra has created a new Zone 3, into which it's rolling most of the countries culled from the new Zone 2 (bar Cambodia, which appears to have been dropped entirely from the travel pass network).

That includes Canada, Denmark, Fiji, France, Germany, India, Italy, Scandinavia, South Africa, Spain, the UK, the USA and the UAE.

The new zone also gets new destinations in South America (Argentina, Brazil and Chile), Europe (including Austria, Belgium, Egypt, Finland, Poland, Romania and Serbia) plus Mexico and Vanuatu, and encompasses all countries in zone 2.

Zone 3 pricing bands are $45 for three days with 225MB; $105 for seven days with 525Mb; $210 for 14 days with 1GB; and $450 for 30 days with 2.2GB.

It's good news if your bound for any new countries on the roaming list but bad news if your travel plans include a country which used to be within Zone 2, as your roaming costs have just gone up by 50% compared to Zone 2 pricing.

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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.

VA Platinum

26 Mar 2014

Total posts 117

This is like one of those airline "enhancements" that isn't an enhancement for the consumer at all. Telstra were already ridiculously expensive and remain so. I used that old Zone 1 in Indonesia quite often for travel to Jakarta, now I'll be forced to pay double when only heading there for a few days. 

Probably best to just use the excuse I'm unreachable except on hotel WiFi now. The phone network there hardly works at the best of times with data anyhow. 

Turkish Airlines - Miles & Smiles

08 Jun 2014

Total posts 265

Just get a Global SIM card for DATA only when travelling... works great in Europe and the USA...

Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 7

In a time where more value is being heaped on us by mobile providers this is just a poor move. My international travel is UK and USA bound which makes me buy a zone 3 pass. Not only has pricing moved, but like all travellers I rely on data to keep me moving - sat nav, email, business away from base.

So a 7 day pass is now $140 with 500meg which I can eat through on travels. Then a mere $100 a gig ?

If they were trying to come up with a strategy to move your higher spending customers onto a other network, they suceeded. 

they rely on INERTIA.  In politics, it's called the donkey vote. For anyone that is travelling overseas regularly, there is only one option. VODAFONE.  I have had one for about 15 months now and it is AB FAB.  No swapping numbers or SIM's ....... Their domestic rates are OK, service is pretty reasonable (these days) and they are faultless overseas. Just $5 per day and you use your phone/data as if you were in OZ.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1024

Unless you are on prepay where they keep changing the plans and refuse to help when something they changed no longer provides anything of use (after you've paid for the voucher of course)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Aug 2014

Total posts 214

It would be an understatement to say I was furious to learn 30 days in Europe has increased from $300 to a whopping and unfair $450. For a plan which was already quite bad value to begin with, this new pricing is a complete scandal.

Aside from a laughably modest increase in the data allowance (1.5GB increased to 2.2GB), there is nothing that could truly justify such a gargantuan price leap. Since most users are not making substantial local calls overseas, Telstra are essentially charging $450 for just 2.2GB of mobile data. Atrocious!

Under the previous allowance Telstra offered 1.5GB included data, plus $0.03/MB (or $30/GB) excess data charge. Thus, on that basis, the previous plan essentially offered 2.5GB for $380, whereas their new travel scam is 2.2GB for $450.

Seventy dollars MORE cost, for three hundred megabytes LESS allowance. What a slap in the face.

And what about the ridiculous data increments; how on earth did they possibly come up with:

  • 7 days = 525MB
  • 14 days = 1.03GB
  • 30 days = 2.20 GB etc?

(As at the time of writing this comment, the data allowance figures are not listed correctly in the above article).

Surely this must be a badly timed April Fools joke?

I thought Telstra had turned a corner in recent years, and I have been quite happy with their service, but any customer goodwill I had for that company has completely evaporated today as a result of their decision to gouge customers with such a ridiculous and totally unjustifiable price spike.

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 1

I use Simcorner, they have local prepaid sims. I would go roaming! 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 700

Any news on the $195 Premium Plan with included global roaming?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

02 Mar 2013

Total posts 19

I'm on a normal $100 plan with Vodafone and that includes international roaming with 8GB a month! 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

02 Dec 2015

Total posts 4

This actually works OK for me givein most of my travel is to NZ but the rise in the excess data is a bit on the cheeky side.  I use a knowroaming sim sticker when I travel anywhere else.

13 Nov 2015

Total posts 10

What a joke, more gouging by Telstra.  Vodafone looks much better now.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 473

This has clearly struck a chord across the biz traveller community and it would be interesting to see a detailed follow up by AusBT - I particularly would like to see some analysis across maybe 2 or 3 biz traveller profiles such as:

  • Biz traveller who is price conscious traveller who's happy to swap SIM's in and out
  • Biz traveller who lives on Skype/IM/email and wants data
  • Biz traveller who wants a single service with global portability at a low cost but premium cost for some regions

The backdown by Telstra today is like the Italian Army General shouting 'Attack', when what he means is retreat to safety!    For what it's someone off contract with Telstra and who spends a week per month in NZ and 2-3 weeks per year in the US, there is nothing appealing about the Telstra offering. I'm not inclined to swap out sim cards or muck around trying to source a local sim. The analysis I've done so far indicates that Vodafone has the best international traveller package by far.   The other point worth discussing is why the Airlines aren't actively in this space...I know they all have their usual telco partnerships - but why not offer a branded SIM that can be sourced on board and activated the moment you land? I just logged into to check and I can't find where the Qantas Aquire program has a telco partner?  Why not offer a branded SIM card for international calls/data...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 473

OMG the commenting platform on AusBT needs some love! 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Mar 2013

Total posts 132

Sounds like he's fallen asleep at the wheel... Can we have Mr Thodey back in charge?


08 Jan 2013

Total posts 5

$10 a day was a bit rich I thought, so will definitely not use the new "enhanced" offering at $15 a day. As mentioned elsewhere, Vodaphone is looking better for travellers.

08 Dec 2015

Total posts 9

Without even reading the comments I'll bet many have invoked the EU plan to slash data roaming charges, data pricing is, and always was, one of the legal universal scams of our age, a hangover from nearly one hundred years ago whe 'technology' was expensive to implement, but it has been a cash cow since the PABX replaced human operators, but they never passed the savings on to the punters, anywhere.

Telstra, this is an utter disgrace!

Glad I'm not a customer of yours. Also, with the right apps, you just need to find a cheap prepaid SIM overseas, don't even bother with the Aussie compaines, they're usually twice the price for exactly the same thing if you can be bothered to do a little reseach online before you go.

08 Dec 2015

Total posts 9

Take HK/China Unicom for instance. prepaid SIM, HKD$78 for 7days/500MB. I sent multiple industrial photographs (many hundreds) on 4 of those days from China to Aus on wechat app. And still arrived back in HKG with data to spare.

The card works in HK, Macau, China you get two numbers the card beams out the requisite one as you cross the border, all the apps I use continue to work as normal, even 'banned' Google!

Why would I even bother with an Aussie travel package in my case?


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