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Are you confused by all of the Fixed Line Broadband Plan options available in Australia? There are literally hundreds of plans to choose from, including bundles with home phone lines, international phone calls and even Pay TV subscriptions wrapped up into a single monthly bill.
There are several different broadband technologies to consider, so read on for a quick description and comparison of each.
The most common choice for broadband internet in Australia is ADSL2+, the technology which superseded the original ADSL tech Australia relied on just a few years ago. ADSL stands for Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line and uses the copper telephone lines to deliver internet into homes across the country. Because of this, homes with ADSL2+ require an active telephone service before they sign up to an ADSL2+ broadband plan.
ADSL2+ plans are often the cheapest option for internet in the home and have become the standard for how millions of Australians connect to the web. Most ADSL2+ plans come with a WiFi modem included which gives users the ability to share the internet with multiple devices (laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc) over a local, secure WiFi network.
An alternative to a standard ADSL2+ broadband plan is something the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have named Naked DSL. This provocative title refers to an internet plan that doesn't require an active telephone service to work. Depending on the ISP, this could save you up to $20 per month on your home internet bill.
The technology underpinning Naked DSL is functionally the same as ADSL2+, so there is no sacrifice in speed, reliability or performance. You should expect the same service from an Naked DSL connection as you would from a standard ADSL2+ line.
Cable broadband is one of Australia's fastest internet connection types, similar to the performance of the fastest NBN plans. Cable broadband connects homes with fibre optic cable which is considerably faster than ADSL2+ over the old copper wire network, and is impacted less when delivered over long distances.
While this sounds like the premium option for broadband, it is limited by the location of the fibre optics cable. Telstra and Optus have installed the cables in patches across metropolitan regions in Australia, but it is far from extensive coverage. For home broadband it's a luck dip. When you enter your address into either the Telstra or Optus websites you will discover whether there is an available Cable broadband connection in your area. If there is not, then it is not possible to take advantage of this option.
The National Broadband Network (NBN) is a new Australia-wide internet network being built by the Australian Federal Government with a view to giving (almost) all Australians the same fast, reliable internet connection regardless of where they live. Due for completion in 2020, patches of the network are already live and there are now numerous NBN providers offering some truly competitive broadband plans.
To make use of the NBN, your home needs to be connected. This is a process performed at your home by an NBN technician, so you will know when this has been completed. You can check the NBN website to see an estimation of when your home is due for connection.
You will need to choose either an ADSL, Naked ADSL, Cable or Mobile Broadband solution until this time. When choosing an NBN plan you will need to select a speed tier, where Speed Tier 1 is slowest and Speed Tier 5 is fastest. The higher the speed you choose for your plan, the more you will pay for broadband each month. While it might be tempting to go with the fastest plan possible, you might choose to trade off speed for a cheaper bill. If your home is connected,
If you can't connect your home to any of the options above, or you'd prefer a flexible internet service that you can take with you when you leave the house, Mobile Broadband is a great option. Using the same technology as your smartphone, Mobile Broadband operates over the Telstra, Optus or Vodafone mobile networks. You can choose a plan from one of these three network operators or from one of dozens or service resellers, like Virgin Mobile, Amaysim and TPG.
Mobile Broadband is more expensive than a standard ADSL2+ Plan so it is advisable that you have a a good idea about how much data you will use each month. Going over your monthly limit can be expensive (usually $10 per 1GB). Mobile providers will send you SMS messages advising you when you are close to your limits, but it is still best to buy what you need in advance.
Because ADSL broadband relies on the copper telephone network, most home will need an active phone line to connect to the web. To make this easier, ISPs offer bundle deals including both a home phone line and broadband internet. Both services on the same bill.
In addition to a basic home phone line connection, most ISPs also offer call packages which can be bolted on to the core bundle. Typically you can choose call packs with either calls to Australian landlines, calls to landlines and mobiles or all of the above plus international calling minutes. These packs increase in price as you add in more services, but the choice is your as to which pack you choose.
Australia is enjoying a TV revolution, with the launch of streaming TV services Netflix, Stan and Presto. These join current TV and movie rental services like Bigpond Movies and iTunes in delivering entertainment over your broadband connection.
Several of Australia's major ISPs, like Telstra, Optus and iiNet, are making it easier to connect to these services with bundles that include, not just a home phone and broadband, but a Pay TV service as well.
Telstra and Optus have plans with Foxtel, and Optus and iiNet offer Fetch TV. Telstra also has the Telstra TV, a small box you wire up to your TV with apps for Netflix, Presto, Stan, and several other services. If you'd like to know more about the Pay TV options, check out our dedicated Pay TV section
It used to be that ISPs required all customers to sign a two year contract for fixed line broadband plans. For most people, a two year plan is fine, but if you move often it can be a big problem.
Nowadays, many providers let customers choose shorter term contract periods, including month-to-month terms. There are trade-offs to consider before choosing a monthly contract term: these can be more expensive each month, may include higher setup and installation costs, and may not include bonuses like a free WiFi modem.
This will be the key question central to your broadband decision making: how much data will your family use each month. The Australian Bureau of Statistics last reported that the average Australian household is downloading about 40% more data each year, so while your current data downloads are a great guide to discovering how much data you need, you should also be looking into the future and adding more data than you currently need.
New streaming TV services like Netflix, Stan and Presto, as well as digital movie rental services like Bigpond Movies, Foxtel On Demand and iTunes, will see the Australian average broadband downloads skyrocket and if your family is subscribed to one or more of these services, you really should start thinking about a high data plan; even an Unlimited Data plan.
If you currently have a fixed line broadband connection in your home, it is still worth comparing your options to make sure that you are getting the best deal on this key household utility. Some of the reasons you might switch include:
If you are concerned about how difficult it is to switch; don't be. The process is simple for customers and usually there is almost no service downtime. Once you have subscribed with a new provider they will typically take care of all of the arrangements, including disconnecting your service with your current ISP.
Most of the popular ISPs in Australia are part of a industry agreement to make switching providers are quick and easy as possible. This is called Rapid Transfers, and so long as you have an active ADSL2+ service, one of the participating ISPs can switch you over painlessly. Before you commit to a new plan, ask your new provider if they offer a Rapid Transfer service.
Typically the process of signing up for and using a new internet plan is straightforward and easy to understand. You compare the available Broadband Plans, choose the best for your family, and make a service request. Sometimes things don't go to plan. Some of the reasons why your might not be able to get a new Broadband Plan or why your connection might slow include:
It is best to discuss these things with a new ISP before signing up. By knowing your address and home phone number, an ISP will be able to estimate what your service will be like and whether there is anything you should know before signing the contract.