Telstra has introduced real-time data usage alerts that let customers know when they have used up 50, 85 and 100 per cent of their monthly data quota.
"That means you can grab a data pack or switch to Wi-Fi if you are nearing the end of your data allowance and avoid incurring unexpected data charges," Scott McGibbony wrote on the telco's Exchange blog.
"We’ve invested in some pretty sophisticated technology capable of handling hundreds of thousands of data sessions every minute to bring this service to you," wrote McGibbony, who is Telstra's director for consumer mobility.
Under the Telecommunications Consumer Protection (TCP) Code telcos have to deliver warnings at the three usage tiers. However, those warnings are not required to be delivered in real time and can be received by a telco's customer within 48 hours.
Teresa Corbin, CEO of consumer advocacy group the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), described Telstra's new alert system as a "great win".
"Consumers not realising there can be a two-day delay in the data usage notifications could easily use a gigabyte or two of data which would set them back between $50 and $100," Corbin said.
"We'd like to see real-time alerts being offered by all of the Australian telcos so all consumers can reap the benefits. Forty-eight hours is too large a gap to inform consumers they have reached their limit."
Corbin said other telcos should follow Telstra's lead.