September 21, 2018

A Guide on How to Compare Broadband Plans in Australia

You want the internet, but what is the right plan for you? Internet deals in Australia unfortunately aren’t always cheap, and they are also not always easy to compare. Your first broadband choice might not be the right one. So how do you fix that? How do you compare internet plans, so you end up with cheap home broadband that has everything you want without paying for more services than you need, and without falling into any consumer traps? Before we start, the most important thing is always to check the actual price of the product including start up fees, offers that may expire after a trial period, and expensive extras. Next to that, there are a few more things you can do to get cheap home broadband internet. Here is a guide on how to make a good broadband comparison.

Look at contracts

Most fixed line broadband plans involves a contract for a certain amount of time. If you don’t feel ready for a 24 month contract, try to find a deal with a shorter one.

Internet deals with or without hardware

Most people don’t want to buy the hardware on their own and prefer it to be part of the broadband package. You can get broadband plans where the hardware is included, but it usually involves a contract as well – something that some people are not comfortable with. If you prefer paying on a month to month basis with no contract, it’s fine to buy the hardware up front. It might cost you a little more to start with, but you will be free to see how the plan goes and to opt out anytime. It really depends on your preference.

  • Home internet plans with hardware: You save the cost of buying the hardware, but you will often have to enter a contract and stay with the provider for a certain number of months.
  • Home internet plans without hardware: You have to cash out and spend a few hundred dollars on hardware. In return, you are not bound by a contract.

Low cost broadband: Fixed line or mobile broadband

Fixed lines create the most steady internet connections, but they do require a landline in the house. Most people have them anyway, so it’s usually not a big deal, but it’s good to check when choosing your cheap home broadband internet. If you do not have a landline, you can still get fixed line broadband. With a line rental, you pay to keep the cobber lines active without paying for the phone service of a landline. Often, line rental is included in broadband packages, especially phone and broadband packages. Other times, you have to pay for it yourself.
Some providers offer packages without line rental and without the need of a landline. The price is actually almost the same.

The alternative is getting a mobile dongle. It allows you to use the internet anywhere and is good for commuters who like to get some work done on the move. The connection on the other hand not as reliable as a fixed line home internet plans, as it depends on a mobile signal, and the speed is not very good.

Look at contracts when you compare internet plans

Another important thing to consider is the time you will have to commit to a fixed line home broadband. Most fixed line broadband plans involves a contract for a certain amount of time. If you don’t feel ready for a 24 month contract, try to find a deal with a shorter one.  Remember that the price often becomes cheaper if you commit to a longer time.

Some providers offer an introductory contract with a cheap price. But after it has finished, the price goes back up to normal again. In the same way, a set-up fee could cost you more money up front but could save you money down the road.

Research what pays off in the long run, if you do get a contracted home broadband. Always read the small print before deciding.

Should you bundle your broadband choice?

There are many ways to bundle more services with broadband plans. If you need different services such as phone or cable TV – why not bundle it and save some cash? TV, phone and broadband packages can be cheaper than getting it from different providers, but it’s not always the case. Here is how you make sure that bundling is right for you:

  • Note exactly what you pay for your current services.
  • Compare the price you already pay with the price you could pay in a bundled TV, phone and broadband package.
  • Be honest with yourself: Does the bundled plan give you everything you want? Are you paying for extra services that you don’t need?
  • Choose to bundle if you can get what you need cheaper than buying it on its own.

Home broadband data allowance

Data allowance can be tricky to figure out. You don’t want to pay too much for data you will never use. On the other hand, it’s annoying to run out in the middle of the month.

10 GB should be enough for users who don’t use the internet a lot. That amount of data will allow you to download around 14 movies a month – if that’s the only thing you do. Streaming videos, listening to music online or just browsing can quickly get you up to the 10 GB.

If you consider yourself an everyday user, you would probably need 20 GB. And with more people in the house, you can consider to get an unlimited plan with a Wi Fi router, so that the internet is available to everyone in the household.

The speed of your connection

The average internet speed in Australia in 2015 was 8.2 Mbps (megabytes per second). This should give you an idea about what constitutes a “good” speed. Still, it varies depending on where you live (city or country side) and whether you have a mobile or fixed line. You can’t expect as good a speed on a mobile network or if you live far away from the city for example. The 8.2 Mbps is just a guideline you can use when you compare internet plans. To find a broadband choice with a fast connection, think about the following things:

  • Broadband availability

Depending on where you live, different providers might offer the best speed. That’s because the further you are away from your service provider, the slower the internet will be. To find cheap internet plans with a fast connection, make a quick search on the internet to find out if you can improve your speed by switching providers. Some websites and providers have calculators that let you run a test of your speed as well as the broadband availability in the area. In that way, you can check if you’re with the provider that offers the best speed for where you live.

  • Providers exaggerate the speed of their internet deals

Providers will usually advertise the connection as “up to” say 8 Mbps.  That means that the actual speed when accounting for factors such as throttling and distance to your provider could be slower. This is another good reason to find a provider close to where you live to get the best possible connection speed for your money. It’s of course always a balancing act – a provider won’t necessarily be more valuable because it’s closer to you, but it’s just one of the things you should take into consideration when looking for cheap internet plans.

Do you need broadband for business?

If you are a small business working from home, broadband for business can give you some great features and services. What exactly you get depends on the package you choose, but many business broadband deals include a router with extra stability as well as extra security measures so that your business information remains safe and free from spam. Some providers also offer 24-hour support and static IP addresses. Another important reason to choose broadband for business is the peace of mind that comes along with the enhanced stability that it offers. Broadband intensive services with greater security risk such as email servers, FTP and web servers sometimes may be blocked by normal broadband packages, but will work fine with business internet deals.

How to compare internet plans to get low cost broadband

In order to make an effective broadband comparison, you need to look at a few different things such as whether you are a private person or a business, if you are comfortable with contracts, want to bundle your services as well as consider hardware, connection and data.

The most important thing is to look at the real price you are going to pay. Look out for offers that expire, extra costs or maybe services you don’t need – especially when you bundle. A good way to make your new broadband choice is to gather all the information. What do you already pay, and what do you want to pay? What do you need in terms of data, speed and commitment? And does the deal include everything you need, and nothing more?

Consider these few tips next time you are looking for home internet plans, and remember to always check the small print.

About the author  ⁄ Marxa Dillan

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