If you're looking at getting a new internet plan, you'll have to make the decision of whether to take up a month-by-month connection or choose a contract option. While not every internet service provider gives you the choice, many do. This not only includes smaller players like SpinTel and Belong, but industry stalwarts Optus and Telstra.
Here's a look at the differences between contract-free broadband and a contracted connection.
Why you might want a contract-free month-to-month broadband plan
The biggest benefit of a contract-free month-to-month broadband plan is you're not locked in with anyone. You'll almost certainly have to pay a setup fee, but you can then cancel your service at any time. If you're not happy with your provider, you're able to change at any time. This is ideal if you want to trial a new provider you're not 100% confident about, for example.
This also means it's easier to change if you find a better deal. Of course, if the better deal is also month-to-month, you'll get hit with another setup fee, which can counteract savings. Australia's broadband market is far less volatile than our smartphone market, with far less competition in terms of data inclusions and pricing, so we're unlikely to see much fluctuation in the short term.
Contract Free ADSL Broadband Plans
Contract Free NBN Plans
Why you might want to sign a contract
Choosing a contract with your internet service provider might for somewhere between 12 and 24 months might seem daunting, but it can save you money.
Many providers offer some sort of saving when you sign a contract. This could be waiving a setup fee, a free or discounted modem, and in some cases, a cheaper monthly price.
In addition to potentially saving you money, longer contracts often include bonuses. Optus, for example, throws in access to Fetch TV and Optus Sport support on a number of their broadband bundles. Telstra will give you a Telstra TV and three months access to Netflix and Stan. If these bonus inclusions are of interest, it may be worth considering the on contract approach.
And of course, your provider of choice might not offer a month-to-month option.
ADSL Broadband Plans on a Contract
NBN Plans on a Contract
So do I want a contract, or do I want to go month-to-month?
If you want to save money, a contract is probably your better option. If you don't mind being locked in, you'll often get a free modem, and have your setup fee waived or reduced.
If you're not comfortable about being locked into a provider for as long as two years, contract-free can be an equally good option. You might have to pay an extra $100 or so upfront, but you'll be able to leave whenever you want. This can be useful if you don't know how long you'll be in the country for, for example.
If you've already got a recent, high-quality modem that works with your connection type, you won't need to worry about paying for a new one if you opt for a month-to-month plan.
Contract image from ShutterStock.