In Australia, there are many SIM cards to choose from – more than 50. Many operators are postpaid-only, while others are prepaid-only. Some operators have plans that somewhat in between prepaid and postpaid plans – Belong Mobile is one of them.
Belong Mobile is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) using the Telstra network. Telstra and its network are known for having the best network in Australia, including the fastest speeds (I managed to get a download speed close to 350 Mbps with Telstra, which was my record speed for most of 2020 until I went to Taiwan).
The fact that Belong Mobile uses the Telstra makes it sound like a promising operator. But are they any good? They used to have three plans to choose from, but now there are only two left.
Yes, that is right – I said two plans. Belong Mobile offers only two plans to new customers.
With so many SIM cards to choose from in Australia, should you go with an operator that only gives you two choices? Well, Belong Mobile has Australia’s first carbon-neutral plans, which is a rather odd (but good) feature to promote.
There is much more to learn about Belong Mobile, so let’s find out, shall we?
Is Belong Mobile Prepaid?
Belong Mobile is the mobile brand of Belong Broadband. They offer SIM-only postpaid services on the Telstra network. However, unlike traditional postpaid plans, Belong Mobile’s plans can be canceled whenever you wish because you are not locked into a contract.
Although I normally write about prepaid SIM cards (buying guides and reviews) on this site (because postpaid plans are normally not accessible to travelers), Belong Mobile’s postpaid plans deserve mention because you can treat them as a prepaid plan. That is because of their bring-your-own-device SIM-only no-contract structure.
Those were a lot of dashes – I know. In short, travelers can buy a Belong Mobile SIM card without any issues. However, you do have to contact Belong Mobile to tell them that you want to cancel your plan at least 24 hours before the plan renews. Else, they will continue to charge you. There are no early termination charges with Belong Mobile.
Is Belong Owned by Telstra?
In the introduction, I said that Belong Mobile is an MVNO using the Telstra network.
However, Belong as a company is wholly owned by Telstra. Telstra launched Belong as a low-cost internet service provider in October 2013. Belong Mobile was launched in October 2017, using the wholesale network of Telstra as an MVNO.
This is why I will specifically say Belong Mobile in this article, as Belong on its own is often referred to as the broadband service.
You may have noticed that I stated that Belong Mobile uses the Telstra wholesale network. More about that later.
Belong Mobile Frequencies
This is always the most boring section of my reviews, but it is probably the most important one. An operator can have the cheapest, best, and fastest plans out there. But if your device does not support the operator’s frequencies, then the SIM card will be useless.
Because Belong Mobile uses the Telstra wholesale network, the frequencies of Telstra apply. The following frequencies are used by Telstra (its full network):
- 3G: 850 MHz & 2100 MHz
- 4G/LTE: 700 MHz (Band 28), 900 MHz (Band 8), 1800 MHz (Band 3), 2100 MHz (Band 1) & 2600 MHz (Band 7)
Boost Mobile uses the following frequencies on the Telstra wholesale network:
- 3G: 850 MHz
- 4G/LTE: 700 MHz (Band 28), 1800 MHz (Band 3) & 2600 MHz (Band 7)
You may have noticed that I did not mention any 2G frequencies. That is because the three Australian Main Operators (Telstra, Optus & Vodafone Australia) shut down their 2G networks in 2017. Therefore, you need a phone that supports at least 3G (on 850 MHz and/or 900 MHz) when going to Australia.
By the way, I did a big comparison of the three Australian Main Operators. You can check that comparison here. It is in-depth, I can tell you!
To learn whether your device supports these frequencies or not, go to this site to find out.
As always, make sure your phone is unlocked. Otherwise, you will not be able to use any SIM card except the one from your home operator.
In terms of 5G, Telstra has been rolling out 5G NR for a while (3500 MHz on n78 and 26 GHz on n258) in the big cities. However, 5G will not be available to Telstra prepaid customers or Telstra MVNOs, like Belong Mobile, anytime soon.
Belong Mobile Coverage
Belong Mobile uses the Telstra wholesale network. It is widely known that Telstra has the best network in Australia. However, Telstra has two types of networks: Its full network and the wholesale network.
Telstra’s full network reaches 99.4% of the Australian population, while the Telstra wholesale network covers 98.8% of the Australian population. None of the Telstra MVNOs, except for Boost Mobile, can take advantage of Telstra’s full network.
Belong Mobile states that their 3G coverage is available to more than 98.8% of the Australian population, while their 4G coverage is available to more than 97.9% of the Australian population.
Although the coverage percentage difference seems minuscule, the actual coverage difference is much larger than one would believe when looking at those numbers.
You will see that most of Central Australia has no coverage. Central Australia is also referred to as The Outback, and barely anyone lives there. That is why there is no coverage there, not even with Telstra’s full network (Optus and Vodafone Australia also do not cover most of Central Australia, as shown in my Australia Main Operators Comparison post).
For a more in-depth explanation of the difference between the Telstra Retail Network and the Telstra Wholesale Network, be sure to check out this video.
You may have noticed that I stated the population instead of Australia when referring to coverage earlier. That is because population coverage is different from land coverage.
In the maps above, you saw that more than half of Australia is not covered by Telstra and Belong Mobile (because people do not live there). The operators do not bother to put antennas there because barely anyone lives there or goes there. Instead, they place antennas where people live or go to, which is around the coasts.
This is how Telstra and Belong Mobile can claim that they cover more than 98% of the population instead of a disappointing percentage, like 30%-50% of Australia.
Even then, you should have adequate coverage with Belong Mobile in most cities, towns, and villages in Australia, even in the populated areas in the Outback. If you are going on an interstate road trip, be prepared to have no coverage at all for most of your trip.
How to Buy a Belong Mobile SIM Card
You can buy a Belong Mobile SIM card in many supermarkets throughout Australia, including Woolworths and Coles and Big W. Some kiosks, newsstands, and convenience stores will also sell Belong SIM cards, but you will most likely find the SIM cards of the Main Operators.
It is also possible to order a Belong Mobile SIM card online. The SIM card will be delivered to an Australian address between 2-4 business days (so inform your ho(s)tel or Airbnb that you are ordering a SIM card to their address. Else, they may be wondering why they received a random SIM card). The SIM delivery is free.
Belong (Mobile) does not have any stores that you can visit, unlike the Main Operators themselves. That makes sense because they are virtual operators (Mobile Virtual Network Operators). Because MVNOs do not have to pay and maintain physical stores and the network, they can often offer cheaper plans compared to the Main Operators.
Belong Mobile SIM Card Price
A Belong Mobile SIM card will cost you 10 AUD, 25 AUD, or 40 AUD, depending on the starter plan you choose. The more you pay for your starter plan, the more perks you get.
Be aware that it will be harder to find the 10 AUD starter plan in the coming few months. I will explain that later.
How to Activate a Belong Mobile SIM Card
I decided to activate my Belong Mobile SIM card with the mobile app.
First, you have to create a Belong account.
Then you have to fill in your personal details.
Now, you get to choose whether you want a new phone number or keep your current number (for when you have a current Australian number with a different operator). In my case, I wanted a new number.
Now, you have to scan the barcode on the Belong SIM card, or you can enter the SIM card number manually.
Both the barcode and the SIM card number can be found on the front and back of the SIM card holder.
Then, Belong will set up your account and establish your Belong Mobile connection
You will get an email confirmation after creating your Belong account.
About 15 minutes later, my Belong Mobile SIM card was activated.
You can now use your Belong Mobile SIM card!
How to Reload a Belong Mobile SIM Card
Because Belong Mobile is not your typical prepaid SIM card, there is no need to reload your Belong Mobile SIM card. Every month, Belong Mobile will renew your plan and will deduct the fees from your PayPal account or (international) debit or credit card assigned to your Belong account.
It is possible to change plans once a month or cancel your Belong Mobile plan outright whenever you feel like it. Just be sure to contact Belong.
How Does the Belong App Look Like?
The Belong app is relatively barebones compared to the apps of its competitors. I used the Android app, which worked fine for me (although it has a 3-star review in the Play Store). Apparently, those who use the iOS the app do not like it much because it has a 2-star rating in the App Store.
Below are some screenshots of the Belong app.
Belong Mobile Packages, Plans, Bundles & Offers
Belong has 3 plans, although only 2 are available for new customers: the 10 AUD plan (for existing customers who were with Belong Mobile on or before 23 July 2020), the 25 AUD plan, and the 40 AUD plan. Let’s see what they include.
|Price||Plan Name||Data||Local Minutes & SMS||Data Banking||International calls & text to 30 countries|
|10 AUD||Small SIM Only Plan||1 GB||Unlimited||Unlimited||+ 5 AUD/month (unlimited)|
|25 AUD||Regular SIM Only Plan||10 GB||Unlimited||Unlimited||+ 5 AUD/month (unlimited)|
|40 AUD||Large SIM Only Plan||40 GB||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
Some of these perks deserve explanations. Before we do so, I do have an update regarding the $10 plan, and how even new customers can still get it with a workaround.
Belong Mobile Data Top Ups
If you run out of data with your Belong Mobile plan, then you can buy additional data, called Data Top Ups, for 10 AUD that in units of 2 GB. If you do not buy a Data Top Up, then you can still browse the web at throttled speeds (64 kbps) without restrictions.
Do note than 64 Kbps is extremely slow for modern data browsing. Infuriating slow, I would say.
Belong Mobile Unlimited Local Minutes & SMS
All Belong Mobile plans come with unlimited calls & text to standard landline and mobile numbers in Australia. Calling to premium numbers is possible, but you will be charged extra for doing so.
Belong Mobile Data Banking
All Belong Mobile plans come with data banking. This allows you to use unused data in the upcoming months. For example, if you have the 25 AUD plan that comes with 10 GB and only used 5 GB, then you can use 15 GB the next month (5 GB from the previous month + 10 GB from the current month).
Unlike some Australian operators that put a cap on how much you can have in your data bank, you can have unlimited data in your data bank with Belong Mobile.
This is such a cool concept. With many operators around the world, you will simply lose the data you did not use. It would be nice if more countries would adopt the Australian data banking concept – we can only hope and dream for now.
Belong Mobile Data Gifting
You can gift your unused data, in units of 1 GB, to any other Belong Mobile customer with all Belong Mobile plans.
Belong Mobile International Minutes & SMS
The Belong Mobile Large SIM Only Plan (40 AUD for 40 GB) comes with unlimited minutes & SMS to 30 countries. Those on the Belong Mobile Small SIM Only Plan and Regular SIM Only Plan can buy the unlimited international minutes & texting add-on for 5 AUD/month.
You can call and text from Australia to the following 30 countries with this add-on (to standard numbers only):
Using Belong Mobile Abroad (International Roaming)
Be aware that although Belong Mobile has an add-on that allows you to call and text to 30 countries, you can use your Belong Mobile service only in Australia. Belong Mobile does not offer international roaming services, meaning that your Belong Mobile SIM card will not work when abroad – not even when trying to call back to Australia.
Belong Mobile Speed Test Results
Now to the exciting part of the review – is Belong Mobile fast?
Earlier, I mentioned that Telstra has the fastest network in Australia. I managed to get a download speed of about 350 Mbps with Telstra, which is incredibly fast.
But that was on the full Telstra network. Can MVNOs like Belong Mobile achieve such fast speeds too?
I did one speed test in my partner’s apartment (13th floor) in South Melbourne, one speed test in front of a lovely Japanese café (also in South Melbourne), and one in the city center of Melbourne, which many refer to as Melbourne CBD (Central Business District – Downtown for the Americans and Canadians among us). These were my results:
Those are not bad speeds, especially compared to the world average (34.5 Mbps download, 10.9 Mbps upload), according to the Speedtest Global Index.
Australia is in the top 10 countries with the fastest mobile internet speeds, with an average download speed of 68.3 Mbps
This is quite surprising because broadband internet in Australia is notoriously slow, even in popular culture. Australia ranks #62 in the Speedtest Global Index. Even then, Australia‘s download speed is quite fast.
Although my 3 download speed results (57.1 Mbps) were slightly below the Australian average, it is still fast compared to the rest of the world.
However, compared to Telstra itself, Belong Mobile’s speeds are slow. There was already a clear difference in coverage with the full Telstra network and the Telstra wholesale network, but there is also a speed difference.
Spoiler: I can tell you that all the Telstra MVNOs that I tried using the Telstra wholesale network all had a peak download speed of slightly under 100 Mbps, like ALDImobile.
I do have to note that all these speed tests were done in Melbourne. You will probably get the same speeds when visiting the big cities in Australia (Sydney, Perth, Darwin, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Hobart). However, expect significantly slower speeds when in the Outback.
Should You Get a Belong Mobile SIM Card?
I would recommend Belong Mobile to those wanting to buy an Australian SIM card.
The fact that they use the Telstra network is the main selling point of choosing Belong Mobile compared to other Australian MVNOs. Plus, Belong Mobile is significantly cheaper than Telstra itself. Although, you will be using the Telstra wholesale network, which has worse coverage than the full Telstra network.
Although Belong Mobile technically has postpaid plans, they are no-lock-in plans. So, you can treat them as a prepaid plan and cancel them if you do not need it anymore without paying any termination fees.
Getting a Belong Mobile SIM card should not be an issue. Visit your local Woolworths, Coles, or Big W, and get your SIM card there. You can also order it online and get it shipped to an Australian address for free within 4 business days.
The entry price of getting a Belong Mobile SIM card is high compared to other Australian operators. Some operators sell SIM cards with no credit for 2 AUD, or you can order them for free online. Sure, those SIM cards come with no perks, but it is still something to be aware of.
The fact that Belong Mobile only has two plans (or three for existing customers) can be considered a huge pro or con. Some operators, like Optus, have so many different plans that it can be a challenge to choose which plan you want. However, just having three plans is… well… unique, I would say.
Even though Belong Mobile only has three plans, they are reasonably priced and come with good perks. Moreover, you can get unlimited minutes and SMS to 30 countries around the world for an additional 5 AUD/month or for free when getting the Belong Mobile Large SIM Only Plan (40 AUD with 40 GB).
I like the fact that Belong Mobile gives you a choice to purchase this add-on for a reasonable fee, instead of forcing customers to get a more expensive plan that includes such features, like Vodafone Australia or Amaysim.
As Belong Mobile uses the Telstra wholesale network, you will not get the incredibly fast speeds as with Telstra itself (or Boost Mobile, who have access to the full Telstra network). However, speeds with Belong Mobile are still fast (is staying in big cities).
Overall, if you want simple plans and do not need fancy features, Belong Mobile can be the best Telstra MVNO out there. If you do require additional features, however, you may want to consider other Telstra MVNOs or other Australian SIM cards.
With all of this being said, Belong Mobile is an excellent mobile operator without gimmicks. Thus, they deserve their five-star rating.
Buying a SIM Card in Australia Review Series
This Belong Mobile review is part of my Australian SIM card series, which includes 15 Australian SIM card reviews. Be sure to check out the Australian Main Operator comparison (Telstra, Optus & Vodafone Australia) to learn more about the telecom situation in Australia. After that, you may want to learn more about the Australian MVNOs, like the Telstra MVNOs, Optus MVNOs, and Vodafone Australia MVNOs.
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