Most people think about their phone bill once every couple of years. It usually comes to mind when their current contract ends, or they drop their phone and need a new one.
However, a growing number of phone plan users are holding on to their phones longer and staying outside contracts. They add either a prepaid plan or a SIM Only plan to that phone they own. That gives them the flexibility they need to be free to move to new deals, with all the data they want, as and when they become available.
If you’re one of these people, there are some simple facts you need to know, which can help you dramatically and easily, upgrade the amount of data you have in your plan. What’s more, if you do it right, you won’t have to pay a penny more for all those lovely extra GBs.
Move to SIM Only : The fastest growing section of the market for SIMs is SIM Only plans. The category took off in 2011 / 2012 and is still growing. SIM Only agreements are typically month to month and they can be prepaid or postpaid. The critical difference in SIM Only agreements is that the user buys the phone themselves. People might lease their device, buy it on eBay, get it new from a shop or be passed it as a ‘hand me down’ from a family member. However they got it, somehow, they own it.
As you can see from this chart from WhatPhone.com.au, prepaid plans, part of the SIM Only family, make up
- Affects prepaid most : One type of SIM Only plan is a ‘Prepaid’ plan, one for which the user pays prior to them using the service. Prepaid plans are often sniffed at, particularly by more mature buyers. They can be the best value plans, however. The nature of the prepaid market is that people move around between phone companies more often. That means the deals you sign up to have to be the best in market. Phone companies know they have to do something special to get your attention as a prepaid customer and to get you to undertake the pain of the move.
- Data deflation : The cost of data is decreasing faster than you think. For a standard spend of $30 a month, say, SIM Only plan data inclusions grow at a rate of around 100% per year. By staying on SIM Only or Prepaid plans, you’ll get the benefit of this drop in price. If you’re in contract, you won’t.
- More Competition means more data : We’ve seen real innovation in the last few months. A constant slew of new phone companies are each trying to carve their own niche. We’ve seen ‘eternal data rollover’ ( known as a ‘Data Vault’ in the USA ) where one particular phone company is letting you keep and, presumably, for some people, use, all the data you’re ever given. Under current schemes from most companies, it’s a ‘use it or lose it’ model where, if you don’t use your data allowance in a month it simply ‘disappears’ ! New arrivals to the market for phone services know they need to improve the customer experience they offer to gather new customers. We can expect to see a lot more of this.
- Here comes the eSIM and 5G : Telco can appear, from the outside at least, to be a highly technical industry. Having worked for some of the big phone companies, I can tell you, they mostly run on some very old technology. That can make it hard to provide customers what they need, quickly. Some of those restrictions are changing, however. The new Apple Watch contained an ‘eSIM’ – a replacement for the existing hardware SIM that we’re all used to swapping in and out of our phones. The eSIM will allow users to pick a plan from their handset rather than walking around the phone company shops for a day. It will increase people’s knowledge of the phone company plans they have available to them and the competition for your custom, with bigger data plans being used as the lure. Finally, 5G, the next generation of phone technology – approximately 100 times faster than 4G – will be here in 2020. You can expect the data you are allocated to rise extremely quickly when this happens.
For bigger phone companies, those with huge market shares, who have owned the market and split it’s profits between them for the last two or three decades, these changes are terrible news. For up and coming smaller phone companies and new entrants in to the market, ingenuity garners rewards.
We’ve seen new players offer free streaming of some unique sports and pass on any price cuts to their customers, when they happen. Those are not the sort of behaviors we’re used to seeing from older phone companies.
Hold on to your phone when your contract ends and don’t sign a new one ! Get a prepaid plan or SIM Only plan, move round to get the data you need and then just wait. The market is going to be flooded with more data than you’ve ever seen, very soon.