Another day, another MVNO – this time it’s Aldi Mobile. The German value food supermarket chain has followed in the steps of Woolworths and Kogan in bringing us a mobile service. It launched just this morning at 8:30am …
I eagerly awaited its launch, only to see the site bog down somewhat right at the 8:30am mark. Now that the load has died down, we can see that the offering is carried over the Telstra network (similarly to Kogan). One must wonder just how many resellers Telstra can handle before their network well and truly becomes as patchy and slow as Optus.
The Aldi Offering at a Glance
The offerings are prepaid and appeared to be geared towards the low-middle end of the market and is unique in letting you have $15 or $30 of credit last a whole year. The call rates are reasonable at 12c/min and SMS at 12c/message with no flagfall and reasonable international rates. Voicemail retrieval and deposits are charged at the same rate, as are calls to 13/1300 and 1800 numbers (an area where some MVNOs make their money). This would appeal to very infrequent users. For heavier users they also offer a $35 per month unlimited setup which offers 5Gb of data. Finally, for the data users, they offer 2Gb for $15 per month.
Administration is mostly done online – as most value MVNOs have done to reduce costs. The SIM packs are $5 and include $5 of credit, and are available from stores or by ordering online.
Comparison: Kogan Mobile
I think the most direct competitor would be Kogan Mobile – also a new upstart that offers services over the Telstra network. One of the downsides is the sheer difficulty of obtaining some of these SIMs and the waiting required as they continually miss their dispatch schedules.
For heavy users, Kogan Mobile presently has the upper hand with their unlimited plans offering 6Gb of data vs 5Gb on Aldi, and being cheaper at $29 per month. The Kogan mobile offering falls short when it comes to international calls – as this requires a $14.99 bolt-on credit which also expires and will end up being costly in the long run.
For light users, Aldi offers a big incentive in credit that does not expire quickly. Kogan Mobile does not presently seem to have an offering for light users. It is rather surprising that Aldi mobile is targeting these light users as profit margins may be rather slim.
For data only users, Kogan Mobile again has the upper hand with their offering of 2Gb for just $9.99 per month compared to $15 per month on Aldi. Aldi has not detailed their charging structure, but it would be expected that it would be similar to that of Kogan.
Comparison: Virgin Mobile
The Virgin Mobile Simple 19 is a prepaid plan which I presently rely dearly on. It’s served over the Optus network, and $19 of credit expires in 90 days and gives you $19 of value and 100Mb of data. The data offering is positively paltry, but the rates are an agreeable 15c/minute with no flagfall with 15c/SMS.
On face value, the Aldi Mobile offering does give users a lower call rate, and a longer expiry date. But this is outweighed by the inclusions that Virgin gives its customers – such as free Virgin to Virgin calling and SMS, free voicemail deposits and retrievals, credit roll-over if recharged prior to expiry (indefinite), and 100Mb of data.
I find that if you have people to call on Virgin (say, your family), then the free calling can be of extremely great value that should not be underestimated. Even say 4 hours of free calling a month (i.e. 1 hour per week) is worth $28.80 at 12c/minute. Advantage Virgin on calling.
Unfortunately, the downside to the Virgin Mobile Simple plans is the excess data charge at 0.2c/kB. That’s $2/MB! And the fact it’s on the Optus network which, in my experience, can be a bit patchy for data. Aldi Mobile charges a more reasonable 5c/Mb but provides no included data, so moderate users will find this to be fairly costly – i.e. $50/Gb. But Aldi will let you have a phone credit along with a 2Gb data pack as well concurrently – so this isn’t likely an issue. Advantage Aldi on data flexibility. Maybe we can call this a draw depending on what you need most.
Of course, there are other cap plans offered by Virgin Mobile however none of them are unlimited at this time. So no comparison there.
Amaysim is another value provider on the Optus network. Their as-you-go plan is a very similar plan with 12c/minute, 12c/SMS and 5c/Mb of data, however, their 13/18 services are charged higher at 29c/minute. Voicemail is also charged at 12c/minute. Their credit expiry is 90 days for the as-you-go plan, so I’d have to hand the better value there to Aldi. One difference is that social media site access is free, meaning that some people may not have to pay data charges at all depending on if their site of choice is included.
They also offer a Flexi $19.90/month plan which offers $19.90 of credit to be used in any combination desired – with reduced rates of 9c/minute, 9c/SMS, and 500Mb of data included and excess data at 5c/Mb. It too has free social networking access. It also offers flexibility to bundle a data package on top to alleviate any excess data charges. Voicemail and amaysim-to-amaysim calls and SMS is unlimited as well. This is a fairly unique offering, which may suit some intermediate users. Aldi does not seem to have a plan which tackles this one directly.
Finally there is the Unlimited at $39.90 per month with 4Gb of data. Already, price and data-wise the Aldi offering is superior. Both offer international services – and their rates are somewhat comparable – so it’s a narrow win to Aldi. That is, unless social media access is the bulk of your mobile data usage.
A value MVNO that makes its presence felt with low cost international calling. Recently they had branched out to offering decent local service as well, using the Vodafone network.
Lebara Standard Plan credits last 90 days with 15c/minute charges for most calls and SMS. Voicemail is charged, however, there is a 29c/minute flagfall for all services. Lebara to Lebara calls are free with the exception of flagfall. For low end users, Aldi is much more compelling.
The Lebara Unlimited Plan is $39.90 per month and offers just 3Gb of data per month but does include unlimited calling to selected international destinations. The Lebara Unlimited National Plan is just $29.90 per month with all of the above minus the international calling which requires additional credit. While the inclusion of data is somewhat less, the price is better than Aldi, but not as good as Kogan Mobile.
After all this, what have we learnt? Well, Aldi Mobile is positioning itself to be a favourite amongst light users. For heavier users, Kogan Mobile offers better rates at present, but this can always change. The Aldi Mobile offering holds up compared to the rest of the market in general, each with their subtle unique differentiators which make them more suited for certain people – e.g. Aldi with international calling inclusions and data pack, Virgin with Virgin-to-Virgin and free voicemail, Kogan with lower pricing, Amaysim with their Flexi plan, free social media and data packs, Lebara with low international rates.