How to use Telstra mobile data in Australia in 2013

So it is 2013 and Australians are using more mobile data than ever.

The volume of data downloaded via mobile handsets, for the three months ended 31 December 2012, was 13,703 Terabytes, an increase of 38% from the three months ended 30 June 2012.

How does the average Australian pay for his/her data on the largest and fastest mobile network? If there's 14PB of the stuff whizzing through the air each quarter then this should be cheap and easy, right?

Here's how you do it without paying anything extra in 2 easy steps:

1. Use some data.

2. Monitor usage using the convenient Telstra apps on various platforms.

Some things to note:

 - Mobile data usage is measured differently to how you might expect. Users have found inconsistencies with bits received vs. charged when streaming HD video, for example.

 - All Telstra apps state that "Data usage usually current as of about 6 hours ago".

An LTE handset receives data at a rate of 2-40mbps, so in 6 hours, using data at the low end of that speed for 6 hours would take you from 0GB used to 5.4GB used within just the time it would take to display on your 'handy' usage meter. Given the maximum included data with a plan is 3GB, this means everyone could easily go over the included data in a plan without even noticing.

3. So what are your options to pay for the data you use?

Your choice is really Excess Data (3a) or a Data Packs (3b)

3a. Pay 'Excess data usage'

So how much does it cost if you accidentally go over your included plan? Don't worry, it's just $100/GB, or about $250 if you used as much as I described in part 2. 'Bill Shock' is always mentioned in the media with examples of people returning from overseas holidays with thousands of dollars in international data usage, but Telstra's non-international data usage is pretty close ($10/MB vs. $15.36/MB).

Never fear because as Telstra say:

"There is a great range of Data Pack options that start from 250MB up to 8GB of included data per month."

3b. Buy a data pack

So you've been careful and have bought a $5 or more data pack because you knew you'd be going over your included data.

But there are a few more confusing things here:

  1. Keep in mind the same concerns with approaching excess data apply to data packs as did in step 2 with your included data. Buying a 3GB data pack on top of your included 1GB? If you use 5GB total it'll cost you another $100 (on top of your $30 3GB).
  2. Data packs are applied to the current month on a pro-rata basis. So if you have already gone over your included data purchasing a data pack will not avoid any charges already incurred.
  3. A data pack is automatically purchased for the next month in advance (plus any pro-rata for the remaining days in your billing month). If you don't need it again you'll need to cancel it the next month. This can't be done in your account manager of course, but you can use Telstra LiveChat to get it done reasonably painlessly. Just have your account number and DOB ready to go.

So is this all changing with the new ACMA Telco code, released in September last year? Unfortunately no. The new rule is that usage alerts must be "sent to customers when they have used 50%, 85% and 100% of their allotted voice, text and data usage." but the time delay is allowed to be up to 48 hours, not even the 'usually 6 hours' that Telstra offers.

The good news: apparently all Telstra LiveChat employees are allowed to approve a once-off $100 credit on your next bill if you accidentally go over. If you do it again (or went >$100 over) it is best to at least threaten to go to the Telecomms Industry Ombudsman.

I switched from Telstra prepaid to Telstra postpaid last year thinking it would be a bit simpler than recharging every month and that it would stop the monthly prepaid recharge alert spamfest. On prepaid, the process I was following most of the time was:

  1. Recharge prepaid cap (includes some data).
  2. Occasionally buy a prepaid data pack if I knew it would be required.
  3. Use data until it runs out.
  4. Recharge again.

I'm not sure how Telstra manages to cut you off so promptly if you are on prepaid, yet can't notify you as promptly that you have started to pay $100/GB. Perhaps you can get a bit of free usage until their systems realise? Doubtful, but possible.

As you can see from what's written above, it's not worth it. If you want Telstra's superior network you'll need to be careful, pay for a large data pack well beyond your expected usage or use prepaid and put up with the annoyances that come with that.


Brooklyn Nets Return to Optimal # of Williamses

*Since the Nets have never had 3 Ws on a roster, that data point is interpolated.

This NBA offseason, the recently relocated Brooklyn Nets re-signed an important player in Deron Williams.  They also returned to the optimal number of players called Williams on their roster. They traded or didn't re-sign Shelden, Jordan and Shawne, harking back to the glory days of 2001-2004 when the only Williams on the roster was named Aaron and as a result the team made the NBA Finals twice. In the early 80s the Nets signed 2 Williams (Ray and Buck), resulting in a big 20W improvement and a trip to the Eastern Conf Finals. It wasn't until they removed one Williams (Ray) that they were able to go one step further.  How did they win the ABA finals without a single Williams in the 70s? Further analysis would indicate there was a Williams-on. More study is required here. I'll be back in a few years with my PhD.


Name Of The Year has been Hijacked!

So this was earlier:

It's a new year. I've got some time on my hands. Let's get this thing done.

Head over to my NOTY page for all the voting action:

The #tag is #noty11

The Twitter account is @NOTYresults

I promise not to neglect the NOTY faithful unlike those who came before me.

Bulltron and Sithole regionals are up. Vote!

WTF is Name of the Year? It's this:

But there is even better news. NAME ON. The officials from the sacred Hall of Name have contacted @upshake and promised to never again let the calling of the names fall silent.

Head over to the official site for the latest on #NOTY11.

Discuss using #noty11Follow @NOTYresults and the official @NOTYtourney.


Dwyane Wade versus Dwayne Wade

Sure, Dwayne Wade is happy he's made it back to the NBA Finals.  The hot word in the Miami camp is that he's even happier that according to Google Trends, the correct spelling of his unusual name is at an all-time high! In a statement to @upshake via email, Dwyane said:

"Even when I won an NBA title in 2006, everyone spelt my name wrong, which really irked me. Even the engraver wrote 'Dwayne' on my NBA Finals MVP trophy.  Every time I see that trophy it makes me want to go back to The Finals get another one with the correct spelling.  If LeBron or Chris win it I'll get them to write 'LeBorn' or 'Bosch' or something."

People started catching on that it was spelt D-W-Y-A back in late 2009, but only in 2011 has D-W-A-Y dropped consistently below 30% of the spelling attempts.  See Google Trends results below
Wade vs. Wade vs. Wade


Steele's Successor: 2011 Name of the Year?

After the monumental YEAR OF STEELE that was the 2010 Name of the Year competition, @upshake wasn't sure who to barrack for in 2011.  Would I still enjoy NOTY if I hadn't anointed, promoted, supported and cheered the eventual winner? would I still follow the NOTY with any interest at all?

But then I saw the name. Never fear, the AFL has a competitor in the mix again: promising Adelaide up-and-comer Patrick 'CHUNTANIA' DANGERFIELD.  OK I'm lying a bit there, it is really this woman.

Perhaps she married the Adelaide Crows player's 4th cousin twice removed.  Perhaps not. Regardless, I'm keen to have her win just to get Patrick a new nickname: CHUNTANIA.  So spread the word, my faithful Steele Sidebottom Soldiers.

And if she doesn't win, then at least let Delorean Blow or Philander Moore win.  Fill out your brackets and get into it.  Voting started today at NOTY HQ.


A basketball stadium tuned to 7.83Hz and covered in Power Balance holograms

If you didn't hear the latest Sacramento Kings news, the cellar-dwelling NBA team has renamed its stadium from ARCO Arena to Power Balance Pavilion, after the world's favourite new placebo or, as the manufacturers prefer, 'Performance Technology'.  Yeah, that's the company that sells the wrist bands that recently got taken down a notch by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC). 

Click to read more ...


2010 Australian Rock Paper Scissors Champion: Fists of Fury

Congratulations to Peter "Fists of Fury" Mathews, 2010 Australian Champion in Rock Paper Scissors. Don't believe me? Here's the official website and coverage by the World RPS Society.

And here's how he won the final:

It has been an impressive run for the friends of UpShake in RPS over the past 5 or so years. UpShake's own Cam "The Paper Shredder" and UpShake lurker Paul also "The Paper Shredder" winning the South Australian finals in 2009 and 2006 respectively. UpShake's own Origami was an SA finalist in 2005, 2007 and 2009.  However, no one has done as well as Fists of Fury, winning the national title, gold medallion and free trip to Canada.  So how did he do it? Well, UpShake was there because we knew his potential and encouraged him to go straight to the national final in our nation's capital, Canberra.  He signed up on the night, making his way through the 40 other challengers to then take on the 6 state winners (one from New Zealand) in the round of 16. 4 wins later and the rest is history. 

Peter travels to Toronto, Canada in October to compete in the world championships.  Everyone else? Get training for next year with this handy wall chart.


STEELE THE ONE: 2010 Name of the Year Steele Sidebottom

It was a journey that took nearly 3 months. Tired, bruised, battered, Steele Sidebottom was still able to put in one last effort in the 2010 Name of the Year Grand Final.  He made a Banana Yaya smoothie in the championship match with 82% of the vote.

He was a polarising figure in the NOTY right from the beginning. It went in stages.

  1. Confused: After winning his first round match with commenter Whit Perkins saying, "WHO IS VOTING FOR STEELE SIDEBOTTOM?!?!"
  2. Dismissive: "Steele Sidebottom is a fucking stupid name." said 'Anonymous'.  Although, to be honest, in this competition is that a complement?
  3. Wary: After AFL supporters started flooding the site with (some unintelligable, some witty) comments the Spontaneous Gordon supporters realised they had a big challenge on their hands. With just 112 facebook group members I'm not surprised.  Anonymous said..."The regionally-biased voting plaguing this year's NOTY evidences the wisdom of our Founding Fathers in designing the Electoral College."
  4. Annoyed: the tall poppy syndrome kicked in and the abuse came thick and fast: Jon Beckham said..."Australians ruin everything." This led to a response from the Aussies somehow tying in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill to their inability to handle Steele. 
  5. Delusional: Apparently also it was somehow Australia's fault that the entire bracket didn't turn out the way another Anonymous commenter thought it should: "So, let's see if I got this straight. Lolita Respectnothing and Napoleon Einstein are out in the first round, and Steele Sidebottom is in the final? Nice job breaking it, Australia"

Also, as maharius notes:

The backlash from Steele Sidebottom winning #noty begins. RT @abcnews Barack Obama cancels trip to Australia

The NOTY tournament is hilarious.  The top 64 names are all good.  It is all subjective and that's the point. If you want experts to decide, then look to the NOTY High Committee for their pick. Who wins the people's choice? Well, like politics, it is a popularity contest.  We here at UpShake were the best at promoting the Steeley cause above all others. We built a facebook army that now counts in the THOUSANDS.  We got the tweets flowing.  We got radio stations interviewing name of the year contestants in different hemispheres.  If you think your favourite NOTY contestant deserved it so much then where's the love? Where's the promotion?  If 1,025 facebook members were enough to get Steele the title with 82% of the vote, then you didn't try hard enough.

And on the Australia vs America idea, I think 'Cobbly' said it best.

cobbly said... Population of America: 312 million Population of Australia: 21 million
Pretty sure you could have out-voted us if you really wanted to.
So suck it up. Steele wins.

It was a great tournament. The one regret I have is that Banana Yaya was the grand finalist.  I think it was a side effect of Steele's meteoric rise that the lowest common denominator of AFL (let's be honest, Collingwood) supporters didn't quite grasp the alliteration gold that is Nohjay Nimpson.  Yes, Banana has a fruit for a first name. Yes, he has a mono-vowel full name. Was he entirely worthy of 2nd place? Perhaps not, but that's the fault of the Nohjay supporters. That's the NOTY tournament for you.

Let's look back at his epic 2010 tournament.

Round 1: Pizza Ashby, Dinero Fudge, Shevelle Six all defeated with Steele gaining 51% of the vote.

Round 2, Sweet 16: Spontaneous Gordon put up a worthy fight, but Steele proved a stayer (52% - 48%).

Round 3, Elite 8: Starzanne Stipes defeated the jingoistic soccer player 64% - 36%

Round 4, Final Four: Charity Beaver was beaten hard, 82% - 18% but interviewed by Collingwood president Eddie Maguire and may have won a long-term prize of being MMM radio's US correspondent in future.  She has also won in love, being recently engaged (to a SMITH! How devastating for all the Beaverites out there.)

Round 5, Grand Final: Banana Yaya again 82% - 18%


The Final Four best names in the world

And then there were 4:

Steele Sidebottom vs Charity Beaver

Nohjay Nimpson vs Banana Yaya

Let's be honest, he's the underdog. Can he Steele it?

VOTE 1 SteeleRETWEET 1 SteeleFacebook 1 Steele.


Elite 8 Update of Steele

I'm not sure what happened, it has been a bit of a rollercoaster.  Since narrowly defeating Spontaneous Gordon in the 2010 Name of the Year Sweet 16 by approximately 40 votes, Steele Sidebottom has turned the corner.  There has been an outpouring of support for his NOTY tilt since the voting for the Elite Eight began just a few days ago. To put it in context, last round he received approximately 1200 votes before voting closed, which was enough to make it through against a tough foe.  Since voting opened on Tuesday (Australian-time) he has managed a whopping 3,343 votes (enough for 64% of the share) and leads his Elite Eight rival, Starzanne Stipes.

Now it appears that Steele is odds-on favourite to take Charity Beaver to 'The Big Dance'.

So here's the press he's been getting, and perhaps the reason for his lead:

Click to read more ...