Spark announced yesterday, a couple of changes, to both its Pay Monthly and Prepay mobile plans. The telecommunications company has finally aligned itself with most of the other mobile companies by offering Rollover data on all its Pay Monthly and Prepaid plans. However, it has come at the expense of reducing its Spotify Premium subsidy on Prepay plans to only 50%, as well as limiting everyone to only 3.5GBs of Rollover data and 500 Minutes that can be accumulated.
To make matters worse for Prepay users, Spark are now billing them on a 28-day cycle, which over the course of 365 days a year, will add on an extra month’s payment to your mobile bill. This will mean your typical $19 Prepay Combo plan will turn out to cost $247 per year as opposed to $208. This is starting to become a sneaky trend from telcos, in order to try and squeeze as much revenue as they can out of their customers.
However, while this may seem like a small price raise for its Prepay plans, it still offers better value if not the same value, as the other telcos offering mobile prepay plans through its complimentary Lightbox subscription, 1GB/day WiFi hotspot and its subsidised Spotify Premium.
Spark also had to remove its Facebook post advertising its new ‘offering’ earlier in the day due to a huge backlash from its customers. It seems that its customers really liked having complimentary Spotify Premium on an under $30 plan!
In response to the new Pay Monthly plans, Spark have pretty much aligned themselves exactly with Vodafone’s Red+ plans’ prices, but with the addition of capped Rollover data and Minutes, as well as a complimentary Spotify Premium subsidised in full, and a Lightbox subscription bundled in as well. So in all fairness, the new Spark Pay Monthly plans still have a bit of value in them compared to Vodafone. Just don’t be caught out with Spark’s $30 charge to add a person to your plan, as opposed to Vodafone’s $20, and 2degrees’ $25. However, I believe Spark’s extra $10 is being justified for each added person to get “free” Spotify Premium.
And since 2degrees Mobile have also tinkered around with their mobile plans, one of the most talked about plans for 2degrees is their $55 Pay Monthly plan which includes a whopping 10GB of rollover data as well as unlimited calls and texts to Australia and New Zealand. This can be compared to Spark’s $60 Pay Monthly plan which includes 4GB of rollover data (5GB if you include their bonus 1GB data) and unlimited calls and texts to both Australia and New Zealand. What do you get for the extra $5 you say? You also get a free gig of data to use if you happen to be near one of Spark’s WiFi hotspots, full complimentary Spotify Premium, as well as a complimentary Lightbox subscription. Skinny Direct has a $50 per month play which also offers 10GB of data (not rollover), and unlimited calls and texts to NZ only. So really, the bottom line is it depends what your needs are in order to choose the provider that can give you what you need.
Many people latched on to a Spark Prepay plan because of the full complimentary Spotify Premium, and since most users use Spotify Premium, saw value in that offering.
In conclusion, I think it’s fair to say that the New Zealand mobile plans’ space is pretty cluttered! The prices are generally the same, with some being a couple of dollars more or less for relatively the same amount of data, minutes and texts. The only thing differentiating between all the different telcos are their additional complimentary packages such as Lightbox and Spotify, Rollover data and minutes for some, being able to call and text Australia numbers, or being able to tether to your phone for a mobile hotspot.
Spark’s plans aren’t as bad as what most people are making them out to be. Now that Spark and 2degrees have modified their mobile plans, let’s see what the other telcos will bring to the table as well!