Similar to the other prepaid SIM card questions. What are my options in Australia if I'd like a prepaid SIM with mobile data? Since I'm travelling a lot, what would the operator be with the most coverage? I couldn't seem to find this question out there yet here at the travel SE.
There are only three operators in Australia that actually own and operate their own networks, and they are:
- Telstra, the former state monopoly. My usual recommendation if you're planning to travel even slightly off the beaten track, since they have the widest network by a long shot, but a bit more expensive than the competition.
- Optus, an arm of Singapore's SingTel, and a good choice if you want to save a few pennies and are sticking mostly to the cities.
- Vodafone aka Vodafail, the local branch of the multinational, infamous for poor coverage and network instability issues and recommended only if you're a masochist. As a representative anecdote, two friends of mine who worked for Vodafone had their wedding in Yarra Valley, a popular tourist destination just outside Melbourne, and the winery they chose, 1 km off the main highway, had zero Vodafone coverage. Both have now quit, and neither uses Vodafone any more!
All three have booths just outside Customs at both Sydney and Melbourne (and probably other major airports too). I'm not going to go into plan details, since these change at the drop of a hat, but at time of writing (Dec 2014) Optus's $2/day with 500MB/day plan is about as good as it gets.
It's probably worth mentioning that comparing plans in Australia is (intentionally) really difficult, since all operators work on a basis of giving you funny money and pricing everything in funny money. For example, paying $20 might get you $200 of "credit", but phone calls then cost you $7/min (actually $0.70/min), and of course the ratio of real money to credit varies based on the operator and plan you pick.
There are also "virtual operators" (MVNO) like Amaysim and Lebara that license the big boys' networks. They claim to be cheaper, and occasionally may be, but tend to have really shoddy customer support, puny data speed limits in the small print, etc. The small savings aren't worth the potential for big hassle in my opinion, but YMMV.
Source: Have used SIMs from all three companies, and seen my wife struggle with a MVNO I shall not deign to advertise. Currently on Telstra and happy with it.
Just to expand on the list, you might also want to check out Yomojo which replaced Yatango Mobile.