Target User: International Callers
Billing Method: Prepaid
Prepaid Credit Expiry: None – must make one call every 90 days, unless you’re on a plan.
Network: Telstra 3G Wholesale
Customer Service: Call centre based in Chennai, India (8am-midnight weekdays, 10am-midnight weekends) and email support.
SIM types available: Regular/micro SIM as a dual punch SIM card (standard packs), nano SIM for iPhone 5 (specially marked packs).
Web Site: Lycamobile.com.au
Lycamobile are a low cost MVNO that operates in many countries. Lycamobile’s target market are foreign migrants who are looking for a way to call friends and family who live overseas cheaply.
Coverage and Network
Lycamobile were one of the first companies to get access to Telstra’s wholesale network when they launched in Australia in November 2010, originally on the Telstra 2G network but they have now been moved across to the Telstra 3G Wholesale network.
Telstra 3G Wholesale is a subset of the NextG network, providing coverage to 98.5% of the population on 3G and 98.8% including 2G, compared to the 99.3% that Telstra’s retail offering covers. You can view the full coverage maps here.
You will need a handset that supports 3G 850 Mhz (and preferably 3G 2100 Mhz) to be able to access the Lycamobile 3G service.
Call Rates and Data Packs
Lycamobile have great rates to a number of international countries, as well as reasonably priced rates and packs for Australian numbers. Here are the main plans:
- Standard Plan (PAYG): This is the default plan that you are on if you don’t select another bundle, or if you pick a data only bundle. Good international rates, but can be cheaper with the method below.
- Text ACT SAVE to 2525: To get a better rate on your international and local calls, you need to opt in by texting “ACT SAVE” to 2525. Not sure why this is the case, but it’s worth noting that you should do this when you receive your SIM.
- Unlimited Plans: $24.90 per 28 days with 2GB data, $29.90 per 28 days with 3 GB data including unlimited international calls to 10 countries, $39.90 per 28 days with 7 GB data including unlimited international calls to 10 countries, $44.90 per 28 days with 7 GB data and unlimited international calls to 40 countries or $49.90 per 28 days with 10 GB data and unlimited international calls to 10 countries.
- Data Packs: You can also buy data packs and maintain the PAYG rates for calls. It’s worth noting that you can’t tether your mobile to your laptop or tablet on Lycamobile.
Lycamobile Super Saver Plan Replaced with Unlimited Plans
Lycamobile’s Super Saver plan was their previous unlimited offering. Lycamobile have recently changed this into a range of Unlimited Plans from $24.90 per month to $44.90 per month with varying amounts of data included and international calls in some packs. Right now, it’s one of the best offers in the marketplace in the unlimited plans category.
Lycamobile’s service is delivered using their own network operator code and infrastructure, with users getting access to Telstra 3G Wholesale coverage. Having their own network operator code means that your mobile phone will need to be unlocked, unlike other resellers on the Telstra network who use Telstra’s network code and whose SIM cards will sometimes work in Telstra Prepaid locked phones.
During the three months that I was a customer of Lycamobile, I found that approximately once per month I’d be unable to make calls to landlines or mobiles from my phone, although other people could still call me. This was because Lycamobile don’t directly deliver the calls via Telstra’s mobile network, instead the calls are managed by Lycamobile’s own equipment which allows them to provide cheaper rates to you, especially for international calls.
Things to note and downsides of the Lycamobile Super Saver plan are that they do not support MMS on their service, and data speeds can be a little bit slower than you’d normally expect from Telstra as the data is routed through Lycamobile’s equipment rather than Telstra’s wholesale infrastructure that other resellers on Telstra use.
Tethering is also blocked on Lycamobile using a technical solution at their end, based on the TTL (Time to Live) value of packets. Some people have reported being able to bypass this, however it requires some technical knowledge to implement this workaround, and it can only be done on a desktop/laptop computer, not other phones or tablets.
Having access to the Telstra 3G Wholesale network means that Lycamobile’s mobile data speeds can reach up to 42 Mbps, however our testing found those speeds to be a lot slower.
Ping times were rather high and data download speeds were low. Some people on popular Australian tech forum Whirlpool have suggested that this is because Lycamobile route all of their data to the UK before it reaches the public internet, although others believe that this practice has now stopped.
In our testing in both an iPhone, an Android phone and several Pocket Wifi devices, we were unable to use the tethering function to share the data pack with other devices.
If you’re looking for access to great mobile coverage using the Telstra Wholesale network combined with some great value rates, then Lycamobile could be the perfect fit for your needs.