If you thought Three's unofficial iPhone plans were impressive, you'll be amazed at Optus-owned Virgin Mobile's new iPhone plans.
Virgin's new plans offer 5GB on a $100 cap plan (along with $520 worth of voice calls), or a 1GB plan for $70.
A 1GB iPhone plan on Optus costs $129 (on the 'timeless' plan), or $169 on Vodafone, which shows how good Virgin's plans are.
However, anyone who has been following the history of Virgin Broadband will know that its cheap $60 HSDPA broadband and home phone deal has seen some heavy congestion on its network, with speeds that are so slow at times that the broadband connection has been deemed unusable by some customers.
Virgin Mobile CEO Peter Bithos didn't deny that the company has had some issues with speed, but said it wouldn't be a problem for iPhone users.
"Firstly, for specific questions about network performance, I'd have to point you towards Optus [Virgin is owned by Optus and uses Optus' network] and ask them. However, what we see is that on the iPhone, you'll use it all day long — when you're at home at night, you probably won't use it as much; you'll use your main PC or your home broadband connection.
"For our wireless broadband customers, peak hours are in the evenings — and if a cell's congested, it's congested mostly at that time. But that's not necessarily when you use your iPhone. I think this will be a very different experience."
Bithos also said the 750Kbit/s speed throttling that is applied to home broadband customers will not be applied to iPhone users.
"What we're doing at these pricepoints is converging wireless broadband pricing over the phone. We sell our wireless broadband laptop modem with 5GB for $39, so we figured on the iPhone, why not give a gig to start off with on the $70 plan, and if you need more, you can have another 4GB for $30."
Bithos said that although Virgin is primarily marketing the plans with a $520 call cap, however customers were not restricted to them if they wanted to get a higher call cap plan.
"You can buy the iPhone on any of our cap plans — Virgin does have higher caps, and we have the best mobile data pricing in the industry — you can always get 1GB for $15 on top of the voice cap fee," he said. "Handset repayments vary based on which cap you choose."
Bithos said he expected strong demand from customers given how good the plans are, and one of the reasons Virgin had launched later than the other telcos was that it wanted to have a lot of stock ready to sell, so it wasn't caught out.
"The only thing I would warn customers about is that if they look on our website, it may says out of stock in 16GB, but that's not true. We are initially selling the white 16GB model, and then the black 16GB will become available in coming weeks."
Calls on the plans below are charged at 40c per 30 seconds, which is roughly on par with the plans Optus and Vodafone are offering (though Optus and Voda offer higher plans that have lower rates such as 35c per 30 seconds.)