Musings on Mobile Advantage

Less than two years into its product cycle, Telstra's Business Mobile Plus product has been scrapped, and replaced by Mobile Advantage. A great many business fleets are currently contracted on Mobile Plus, or looking to (re)contract with Telstra in the near future, and so this change will have profound ramifications for a reasonable proportion of Australia's small to medium businesses.

Here at Dog and Bone, we have been working as extensively with this new product as we did with the old ones, and would like to share some thoughts:

  • Plans are on average about $5 higher per month (again). Thus the $35 Mobile Plus plan has become the $40 Mobile Advantage plan.
  • Unlimited plans remain mostly unchanged, only some very minor differences.
  • Tiering remains, with the new addition of Tier 6, for fleets of 150+ mobiles.
  • There are still different plans within each tier, but they have no bearing on the call rates (they did before), so choosing the right one is now less important, though it still matters.
  • Bonus Options are gone! All of the old bonus options have been replaced by two options: Timed and Untimed. This basically means that you can choose whether you want to be charges are fairly high flat rate (say 60c per call), or a lower timed rate (say 35c per minute). These options are configurable by service. The main thing to know about these options is that there is no 'safe' one, such as Business Hours used to be. As a general rule, mobile users that make longer calls (over about 2.5 minutes on average) will benefit from an untimed rate, while people who make shorter calls will benefit from a timed rate. The problem is that unless you have a lot of time on your hands (or you're Dog and Bone!) it is quite a chore to work out which is better. Given that you must choose one or the other, it is hard to escape the conclusion that Telstra carefully modeled this, and have deliberately introduced this element of increased risk.
  • There is now no flagfall (connection fee). This will benefit users that make a lot of very short calls.
  • Voicemail is now charged the standard call rate, which means that it will be a lot more expensive for most users.
  • Intra-fleet SMS is now free. Depending on how often your staff members text each other, your mileage with this will vary.
  • Data allowances have been increased, but not radically.
  • Data allowances are now aggregated across the fleet, meaning that the data allowance from every plan on your fleet is now combined into a large pool. This is arguably the most significant improvement, and will help cushion individual users form sudden spikes and blow-outs.

As for our overall thoughts on the product, we have found that it is generally more expensive than the old Mobile Plus offering, although this will depend on your business's actual usage. For example, if you send a lot of Intra Fleet SMS, or make a lot of very long or very short calls, there are savings to be found. However, if you rely heavily on voicemail, this category has seen a significant increase. Additionally, the new bonus options mean that bills are far more sensitive to changes in usage patterns, and likely to see wider spend- fluctuations from month to month. Even choosing which option to use in the first place is a bit of a nightmare (unless you call us, of course!), and not just for the end user but even for Telstra.

On the plus side, the provision of mobile data aggregation is very welcome indeed, as is the news that even data packs added later will augment the existing pool of available data. This means less of those heart-stopping mobile data blowouts that I suspect every business sees from time to time.