Your Guide to Buying Australian Broadband
The complexities of today’s telecommunication market can be very daunting at times to say the least, and when it comes to choosing a Broadband Plan, it’s no different. With so many Broadband Internet Service Providers (ISP) and different products to choose from, you’ll need to be aware of all the finer details as for one, you don’t want to be stuck with a Broadband Plan that’s ‘not right for you’, and two, if you do happen to make that mistake, more importantly, you don’t want to be hit with a nasty bill for breaking your agreement contract.
There are generally two types of plans to choose from when considering a Broadband Plan. These are Standalone Broadband Plans and Bundled Broadband Plans. Many ISPs try to entice customers to their products by Bundling Home Phone, Mobile Phone, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), or on some occasion Pay TV services into a Broadband Plan. To do this an ISP may offer a discount such as $10 off the total cost per month, or waive many set up costs and installation fees. You’ll need to do your maths and work out whether or not it actually is cheaper to Bundle your Broadband over the course of your contract term.
You might already know what you want from a Broadband Plan but aren’t quite sure what Broadband connection type is right for you? First you may want to source what’s available in your area. For example, Broadband availability in region might be restricted to Mobile Broadband, or ADSL, or you may have a choice of ADSL, Cable and Wireless Broadband. Secondly, you will also need to consider what you want to use your Broadband Internet connection for and how much data you are likely to chew through? E.g. Browsing the web, a little Internet Banking and Emailing, or perhaps some Downloading and Video Streaming. Generally speaking, the closer to a Metropolitan CBD you are, the more chance you have for choice. Therefore, if you’re in a provincial area or country region, it’s quite possible that standard ADSL, Mobile Broadband and Satellite Broadband could be your only choices. The faster Internet access types such as Cable Broadband and ADSL2+ Broadband are typically restricted to Metropolitan areas and the inner to wider reaches of these capital cities.
Another primary aspect of Plan types to keep in mind is Broadband Speed. The faster you go, the more Data you will consume. The Australian Bureau of Statistics defines Broadband as a continuous Internet connection with a speed of at least 256/64k. This speed is only several times quicker than Dial Up and if you’re upgrading to Broadband, you might want to skip this connection speed. Most Broadband Service Providers have dropped this speed offering in favour of 512/128k as an entry level. 1500/256k, which is classed as ADSL, is still very common, however the likes of ADSL2+ which theoretically delivers speeds up to 24,000/1000k is rapidly emerging in popularity. If you have a small family or multiple users sharing the one Internet connection, an ADSL2+ Broadband Plan would be the plan for you. It’s robust enough for several connections to be used simultaneously.
Broadband Types – Breakdown
ADSL Broadband (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line)
Typical Broadband speeds that range from 256/64k, 512/128k,1500/256k and 8000/384k and delivered through PSTN copper telephone lines.
Pros: Always on connection; considerably faster than Dial Up; Can be used for limited Home Network Use; Wide spread availability compare to other Fixed Line Broadband types.
Cons: Telstra Owns Infrastructure making it expensive to obtain, even from alternative Providers; Considered slow compared to other Fixed Line Broadband types such as ADSL2+ and Cable Broadband
Ideally Suit: Those upgrading from Dial Up and individuals or couples who seldom use the Internet or generally use the Internet for emailing and Internet banking only.
ADSL2+ Broadband (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line Plus)
Typical Broadband speeds that range from 12,000/1,000k through to 24,000/1,000k and delivered through PSTN copper telephone lines via a DSLAM (Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer) that is installed at local telephone exchange.
Pros: Always on connection; Up to 15 times faster than ADSL; Great option for Home Networks and multiple users such as families; good for downloading larger files and streaming HD video. Competitive Prices.
Cons: Limited availability outside metropolitan areas; maximum speeds reduce significantly the further away connection is from local telephone exchange. Transmission can lag or drop out on occasions.
Ideally Suit: Average Families; Frequent Internet Use; Heavy Downloading; Multiple Users; and IPTV or Video Streaming
Naked ADSL Broadband (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line without Phone Rental)
A rapidly growing Broadband Type that is essentially ADSL without the otherwise mandatory requirement of a phone line. ISP’s can now offer these plans provided you have a phone line connected. Typical Broadband speeds are identical to ADSL and ADSL2+ that range through to 24,000/1,000k and delivered through PSTN copper telephone lines via a DSLAM (Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer) that is installed at local telephone exchange.
Pros: Same as ADSL2+ benefits; No need for Phone Line rental; Cheap and Competitive Pricing
Cons: Same as ADSL2+ disadvantages; Even more availability limitations; Can be frustrating process to get signed up/connected.
Ideally Suit: Same as ADSL2+ benefits; good for those who wish to do away with Phone Rental; Potential to save more on telecommunication Bills
Cable Broadband (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line without Phone Rental)
Cable Broadband is delivered through Coax material and boasts speeds up to 30,000/1,000k which is the fastest residential Internet access speed currently available. Cable has the potential to be upgraded to faster speeds, and through the upcoming National Broadband Network, its believed that this technology type will move across into a Fibre-to-the-Premises technology and deliver speeds up to 100,000k (100Mbps).
Pros: Faster than ADSL2+; No need for Phone Line rental; Robust Broadband Bandwidth; Will handle Triple Play services (Broadband/Phone/Pay TV simultaneously); Frequent Downloading; Network Use; Reliable and Constant
Cons: Predominantly limited to metropolitan areas and not as available as ADSL2+; Expensive
Ideally Suit: Family and Multiple user Networking; Triple Play customers; and those who wish to do away with Phone Rental
Wireless Broadband / Mobile Broadband
Wireless Broadband (or Mobile Broadband) has the fastest growing take up due to its freedom of Internet access without the need wires, when and where you want it. Although there still are coverage, speed and latency issues, Wireless Broadband is constantly improving and over time will be the number one Broadband type. Telstra Next G Wireless Broadband currently reaches out to 99% of Australia’s population.
Pros: Portable; Wire free; Convenient; No need for Phone Line rental; Constantly evolving; Coverage and Availability
Cons: Latency; Could be a little cheaper; Speed; Drop outs and Black Spots; Not good for Multiple Network Use
Ideally Suit: Business people; Regional and remote customers; Those who want to be able to take their Broadband on the road, to a cafe, to work or even out into the backyard.
Entry level (occasional light use)
A good place to start if you’re upgrading from Dial up or new to Broadband.
Wireless Broadband Plans
Don’t pay any more than $20 per month for a 1GB Wireless/Mobile Broadband Internet Plan. There could be some additional set up costs involved. Always good if you can avoid excess charges for breaching your monthly data limit too, so if possible, try and get a Broadband Plan that ‘shapes’ (slows) your speed, opposed to charging additional costs for going over your limit.
ADSL Broadband Plans
$25-$35 per month is around the cheapest you’ll get for between 1GB to 5GB on a 512/128k or 1500/256k Broadband Plan. It’s advised that you first try and obtain an ADSL2+ plan. These plans are generally around the same price at entry level however you’ll enjoy the luxury of faster speeds.
Intermediate User (casual to frequent light use)
Couples who like to use the Internet a fair bit, but are not overly keen into downloading larger files much.
ADSL Broadband Plans
Essentially the same as an Entry level ADSL plan, 5GB on a 1500/256k speed should be more than enough to cover your browsing, banking, emails while checking out a few you tube videos every month. At around $40 a month, its advised that you try and find out if you’re eligible for ADSL2+ first.
ADSL2+ Broadband Plans
At around $50 for 5GB worth of data and speeds up to 24,000/1,000k, this would be the Broadband Plan to go for if you’re after something to suit light frequent use for one or two people.
Small to medium sized families, multiple user networks, share houses with several people, and a healthy appetite for all things multimedia. Do you download large files and music occasionally, watch online videos, and find that there is always someone or some people on the Internet, then this is your profile.
10 to 25GB and $50 to $70 with speeds up to 24,000. This will do the trick and if you’re not quite sure and worried about exceeding your limit, make sure you get a plan that is shaped (speed is slowed when data limit is reached opposed to charged).
Same as ADSL2+ 10 to 25GB, but can be a little dearer ($80). Again, if you have kids and find it difficult to track usage, it’s imperative to get a plan that is shaped.
Ultra hungry family, (or at least one member who is e.g. Gamer), 5+ regular Network users and those who basically live on the Internet or download large files constantly. If the other profiles don’t suit, then this is it!
50GB+/Unlimited and speeds of up to 24,000 and 30,000 will only do in this profile. Expect to pay anywhere from $70 -$100. If there is a member in your family or group who is exceptionally hungry for downloading, then it might pay to get a plan that has an additional ‘off peak rate’. These are widely available nowadays and it’s not uncommon to see an ‘unlimited off peak’ data limit. You must make sure that all significant download files are set to commence between the designated off peak times.
Excess Usage Charges: If possible join a ‘Shaped’ Broadband plan(speed slowed) to begin with. This option typically ‘shapes’ (slows) a user’s broadband download speed, opposed to charging fees for each megabyte used thereafter. This way a user will not receive a any nasty surprises when the monthly bill comes.
Unlimited Broadband: This is a term that can be used in conjunction with usage limits. Sometime a ‘fair use policy’ (or acceptable use policy) may accompany such plans that stipulate speed can be reduced after a specific amount of data is consumed (e.g. 30GB). Sounds limited doesn’t it?
Download Limit/Usage Limit: Many ISP’s have appeared to steer away from using the term ‘Download Limit’ as many Providers now charge for uploading too. Uploads are necessary not matter what actions you perform on the Internet. They can contribute to approximately 25% of your total data usage, so it might be worth taking that into consideration when considering Broadband Plans and asking your prospective ISP’s if they charge for uploading.
Early Termination Fees: Looking for a Non Fixed (month-to-month) Broadband plans that don’t come with a lengthy contract term? Think again. Another tactic that can be used by Providers is an early termination fee. For example, you may enter a non fixed broadband plan and decide to transfer providers after 3 months only to find out there is a early termination fee for those leaving within 6 months. Sounds like a contract length to me. http://broadbandguide.com.au/no-contract
Wireless Broadband Security: You need to keep your wireless network secured. Just because your ISP gives you a unique user name and pass that doesn’t mean your wireless network is secure. It’s recommended that you use encryption to protect it, otherwise nearby users will be able to access your network. A method of encryption is WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) . Use this and make up a pass containing both numerical and alphabetical characters.
Broadband Plan Finder – Beginners Search