These days with the three mainstream phone service providers offering less and less true useful value in their plans, the chase is on for the many other providers (Mobile Virtual Network Operators or MVNOs for short) to get your business.
These MVNOs purchase their underlying services from the big three carriers (Telstra, Optus or Vodafone), with the majority these days using Optus. There are quite a number of MVNOs, such as Boost, Amaysim, Virgin, Vaya, ALDIMobile to name a few, and Live Connected is another of this same crop. Where MVNOs fit — given they resell someone else’s underlying service — is often offering better value proposition than the incumbents see fit to offer.
After being with her current provider for the previous 10years my wife was sick of the lack of service in country areas (eg. Lorne down the Great Ocean Road) and also the lack of substance to her plan. Her plan that she received her Nexus S on two years ago included just 100MB of data — are they for real? That was never, and never will be, enough for a smart phone. Since then said company has doubled the data allowance on a $30 plan to 200MB. Still not enough.
As I’m a phone enthusiast, there are always phones lying around our house so we just took one of these over to one of the MVNOs, Live Connected. Who is Live Connected you say? Live Connected is a MVNO who are currently owned by Vaya Mobile and use the Optus network.
What Live Connected have to offer
Live Connected offer BYO prepaid plans only. The value they offer for a fraction of what the big three carriers charge is outstanding. Beyond this, all Live Connected’s new plans from now have access to the Optus 4G network. Plans are able to be finished whenever you want with 30days notice. There is a charge to change plans but no charge to port your number out to a new provider and then port it back to Live Connected on the new plan you desire. A useful tip if you’re an existing Live Connected customer, but want on to Optus’ new 4G playground.
Signing and setting up
For us, we signed onto the M plan on a Tuesday night, which at the time was worth $15 per month (it is now $19.90) and paid the $20 for the SIM card. The website to sign up for Live Connected was very easy to use and although there wasn’t an option to go back and change anything halfway through I found it incredibly painless. I’m not sure what I expected exactly, but I have found the Telstra Prepaid website to be difficult to navigate on occasions so (unfairly, I guess) I expected much the same.
The next morning we received the tracking number for the SIM card and Thursday the new Micro SIM arrived in the mail. Thursday night we received a call from Live Connected themselves asking if we needed help activating the SIM. I found this to be very helpful and a pleasant surprise. Actual personal customer service. Yes, unusual these days. When going for these cheaper options you do tend to expect a lower level of service. Far from it in my experience (but YMMV). I finally activated Mrs Plowman’s SIM a few days later which I completed online in about 30 seconds and like the rest of the process, it was well set out and easy to complete. Within 12 hours the number had been ported over from the previous provider to Live Connected.
Since then we have not had a single issue. I concocted an issue to see how long it took Live Connected to respond – 36 hours. My only complaint is that from what I could find, there isn’t a phone number on their website to call them for help. No live help either. I am assuming this is where they cut corners to save money and to be able to keep the prices so low.
Considering some other carriers do have call centres and live help available, and they’re still completely useless, this really isn’t much of a loss for Live Connected.
Live Connected use the Optus network including their 4G service. When we signed up 4G was not provided on phone plans by Live Connected and thus is not included in our plan but we could always change to the 4G plan (which is standard now) for another $4.90 per month.
Anywhere you get Optus service you will get Live Connected service. It’s as simple as that. We have not noticed any decrease in reception, quite the opposite in fact, although we are now using a different network. All this for only $15 a month we are getting $650 of calls, unlimited text messages, and 1.5GB of 3G data.
If you are sick and tired of the big three offering very little in the way of value, including the ever-decreasing volumes of data in their plans maybe it’s time to consider jumping the fence to one of the resellers such as Live Connected.
Downside is that you have to provide your own phone but the upside is that you get to choose your own phone and purchase it from wherever you want. My wife has gone from paying $30 a month for 200mb data to paying $15 a month for 1.5GB of data, not to mention the significant increase in phone call and SMS allowances. In the long run, even with the outright purchase of a phone, you save a lot of money and get to use the phone without having to worry too much about going over a pitiful data allowance.
Check out the Live Connected website if you are interested. I am glad we did.
Are you a user of a MVNO? What attracted you to them? Or are you considering switching to one? Sound off in the comments.