Friday, 14 December 2012 18:07

Kogan Mobile shifts 10,000-plus SIMs already Featured


Following reports of 5000 SIMs sold on the first day of Kogan Mobile’s existence, that number has quickly more than doubled in what is surely stunning launch growth.

Ruslan Kogan, e-tail master of his many domains, has achieved much in his young years, creating his own brand, challenging big name brands with parallel importing and lower prices, selling furniture from Milan, expanding to the UK and now starting his own mobile network.

Although the supplier Kogan’s using is reported to be ISPOne, it’s also being reported as an unconfirmed mystery, with Telstra disclaiming any direct relationship.

We reached out to Kogan Mobile earlier for any updates to its SIM sales alongside any other info or stats to share, with the response coming back that the only new public number to share was that, by midday, over 10,000 SIMs had already been sold.

No doubt thousands more have been sold in the hours since in what is surely a great post-launch growth rate, even if that launch is yet to span two full days.

Even so, if it continues at such a pace, it could end up seeing many pre-paid providers experience customers churn over to Kogan by the time of the next recharge period in what will surely be a visible, measurable number, surely guaranteeing a range of competitive responses to come soon.   

Kogan Mobile says it operates on part of Telstra’s Next G network, the part offered by Telstra Wholesale, and it's limited to a “slower” yet still fast 3G standard that offers download speeds of “up to 7.2Mbps”, and upload speeds of between 300Kbps and 1Mbps.

This compares to the “up to” 42Mbps and multi-Mbps upload speeds of the DC-HSPA+ 3G standard that Telstra has upgraded its Next G network to in capital cities and all important major areas, if not even further by now while also building its even faster 4G network.

This means that Telstra is keeping the fastest parts of the Next G network and the entire 4G network to itself at the moment, ensuring it can still charge premium prices for its generally premium service, offering instead a standard 3G voice and data service through its wholesale division.

Of course Telstra’s network has been having issues in the CBDs of at least Melbourne and Sydney at peak times, something that’s not a surprise given the exodus from Vodafone to the better Optus and Telstra, and something Telstra is no doubt working on.

It’s at these times I’ve appreciated having an Amaysim SIM on its $39.90 unlimited plan with 4GB data in one of my iPhones, with the Amaysim/Optus 3G network coming to my rescue when Telstra’s faded, yet again proving that it never hurts to have a backup, while now having a new way to get an inexpensive connection on part of the Telstra mobile network, too.   

Telstra’s network is pretty amazing the rest of the time, justifying its higher pricing, and this allows serious competition to emerge from companies like one of Australia's “true unlimited” pioneers Amaysim, along with other MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) such as Lebara on Vodafone, as is Red Bull Mobile, TPG on Optus, Woolworths on Optus, Lyca on Telstra's 2G network and some others.

With all these MVNOs on Optus and Vodafone, however, the time has come for a Telstra 3G Wholesale network-based MVNO to appear, and appear it has.

That it’s Kogan is both surprising and not surprising at the same time, and makes me wonder if perhaps Amaysim too wishes to expand its network capabilities, offering customers the choice of a connection to either the Telstra or the Optus network - although any such competitive move from Amaysim is yet to be seen. 

Given that it seems that anyone can set up an MVNO on Optus these days, or on Vodafone, to do so on Telstra 3G does quite stand out, with Kogan launching "his" new network in signature Kogan style.

In one fell swoop it challenges all the other unlimited providers with a fiercly competitive deal on pricing, inclusions and included data, while operating on part of the country’s most superior mobile network.

What Amaysim, Red Bull Mobile, wholly Optus-owned Virgin Mobile and others do now is yet to be seen, but we cannot discount the power of competition to ensure a range of clever responses to Kogan’s highly industrious mobile challenge.

If you’ve been wanting to move to Telstra, but didn’t want to pay its $100 monthly fee for unlimited calls and 3GB of data, Kogan’s $29 monthly deal with 6GB of data on a network that’s fully part of Telstra’s is an undeniably intriguing and tempting deal.

So too is the offer for greater discounts when 3 or 12 months are pre-purchased, with the 12 month price being $299 paid upfront, or a rather amazing equivalent of just under $24.92 per month, alongside a great deal of a data-only SIM with 2GB for $9.99 per month where usually the amount is 1GB - a great purchase a 3G tablet or smartphone in your possesion that doesn't currently have 3G in it, or for a 3G Wi-Fi modem to bring mobile data to your Wi-Fi capable gear.

If Kogan’s move helps to make 2GB the new pre-paid minimum, that in itself is a great thing, for mobile download limits are still light-years behind the download allowances that wired plans offer.

It’s also yet to be seen what kind of pressure a wildly successful Kogan network places on the rest of Telstra’s Next G network infrastructure, but if Telstra’s willing to do it, even if via a third party intermediary, the company is clearly comfortable with the load Kogan’s customers are expected to bring.

After all, Telstra seems comfortable with letting its customers in Melbourne and Sydney CBD’s experience flakiness at peak times, or at least, is happy to let it be an issue for now.

However, with both peak time network issues and new MVNO customers clear realities for Telstra, along with upholding its own reputation and superior performance for Telstra’s own customers, Telstra can’t stand still like Vodafone did.

While it appears to be doing it a bit too slowly, Telstra is undoubtedly working with its plans and timelines on ongoing upgrades to infrastructure for its entire network, wholesale and retail over time, while its customers also help by upgrading to newer smartphones that now feature 4G, DC-HSPA+ and HSPA+ modems within.

So... Kogan Mobile has arisen with seemingly an even leaner operation than the amazing Amaysim, with the golden age of truly affordable telecommunications, smartphones, tablets still delivering stunning surprises in late 2012 while promising even more fireworks and incredible customer value in 2013 to come!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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