Jun. 2nd, 2011

Amaysim have been getting a bit of press over their latest "unlimited" offer. You pay them $39.90, they give you "unlimited" cell phone service.

There are some catches, though, and while it's a vaguely attractive offer you need to be aware of them.

First off, Amaysim is a VMNO using the Optus network. So if your Optus coverage is lousy, your Amaysim coverage will be too. Most of the mobile services available in Australia which aren't the Big Three (Telstra, Optus, Vodafone/3) are actually VMNOs operating on the Optus network, with maybe one or two exceptions who're VMNOs on Vodafone.

Second, there's a huge list of exclusions. You may or may not care about them. They're all outlined in the terms and conditions document, but basically anything that isn't a voice call within Australia to a regular mobile or landline, or a text message within Australia, or picking up voicemail, is excluded. That includes but is not limited to calls to satellite phones (most service charge extra for these), calls to special numbers (including those that are supposed to be free), video calls (not that I've ever seen anyone make one), and a bunch of other stuff.

Third, while the data allowance looks generous at 4GB/month, as best I can make out they're billing that in 1MB chunks per session. They're not really very clear about this, but anecdotal wossname online says a "session" times out after 15 minutes, so if you have your phone collecting email you could easily be eating 4MB/hour when the actual traffic is a couple of kilobytes. At that rate you'd eat 2.8GB of that 4GB in 30 days with very little actually going on. Mind you, a session that really does use a full megabyte is still charged for using a megabyte, so it's not all bad, but it's something to be aware of.

(Incidentally, Boost Mobile is another Optus VMNO with a similar offer, and they do the same with the data blocks. I guess it's just another way to have an impressive marketing spray without too much risk.)

Finally, it's "personal use only". I have no idea if my four-times-a-week calls in to work for a conference call constitute "personal" or "business" use by their lights, and suspect it may simply come down to whether or not they notice what they consider an unusual call pattern that's costing them money. I would guess they're looking into anyone who routinely costs them more than $40/month to service, as that's what I'd be doing in their shoes.

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