engin NBN, ADSL and mobile broadband plans compared

Having started off in Australia as an Internet phone provider, engin has since spread into home and mobile broadband services.

From as early as 2004, engin has been in the business of broadband telephony, selling its services to consumers and business alike, both online and in retail stores. Since its first days, engin has spread into the fixed-line broadband market with ADSL and NBN plans as well as mobile broadband plans on the Optus mobile network.

engin NBN Plans

engin plans offer NBN connectivity to customers in the fixed areas of the NBN footprint. Fibre to the premises (FTTP), fibre to the node (FTTN), fibre to the building (FTTB), fibre to the curb (FTTC) and fixed wireless are all supported, as is NBN over HFC. However, engin does not support NBN over satellite at this time.

Unlike some NBN providers, engin doesn’t offer unlimited plans, and yet it promises "no excess usage charges". After the included data allowance is consumed, engin shapes NBN customers to just 64kbps (just faster than a dial-up modem of some 20 years ago) meaning that Internet will quite literally be slowed to a crawl.

However, the plan offering is fairly straightforward. There are just three plans, and that’s it:

  • NBN Lite 50GB, offered at NBN Basic (nbn12) speed for $49.95 per month
  • NBN Standard 100GB, offered at NBN Standard Plus (nbn50) speed for $79.95 per month
  • NBN Ultra 400GB, offered at NBN Premium (nbn100) speed for $99.95 per month

Across these plans, there are some points to note. First, if you want more data, your only option is to upgrade to a higher speed as well. Secondly, there are only 24-month plans. No month-to-month options are offered.

On the plus side, there are no set-up or activation fees but with minimum 24-month terms, that is somewhat to be expected. The other thing to be expected is to pay a penalty for leaving during the contract term, and there’s no good news here.

Unlike many other providers, engin doesn't subsidise the unpaid costs on your contract if you cancel early, charging you a fee equal to your monthly bill multiplied by the number of months left on your contract. Or in other words, if you leave early, you’re going to pay for it anyway.

engin ADSL Plans

Unlike its NBN plans, engin does offer an unlimited option for ADSL. It supports month-by-month options too, making this access technology a little more flexible.

Again, just three plans are offered:

  • ADSL 10GB for $30 per month
  • ADSL 50GB for $40 per month
  • ADSL Extreme Unlimited for $50 per month

Each plan is available on a 24-month plan (pricing as above), or for an extra $5 per month, on a month-by-month contract. 24-month customers not only save on plan pricing, but receive a free modem and pay no set-up fees. Month-by-month customers must pay $99 to activate their new ADSL Connection, or $39 if transferring from another provider.

After the included data allowance is used on the 10GB and 50GB plans, engin’s ADSL plans are shaped as well. Unlike its NBN plans which are shaped to a miserly 64kbps, ADSL plans are shaped to 256kbps. It’s an odd distinction.

Regardless, engin provisions ADSL using the best technology available in the customer’s area, with a preference for ADSL2+ where available, and standard ADSL in areas without ADSL2+.

As priced above, these plans require an active telephone line with another provider. If you don’t have a current phone line and want to get one from engin, you can bundle together ADSL with a phone service. Only the 50GB and Unlimited options are available, however:

  • Phone + Broadband 50GB bundle for $74.95 per month
  • Phone + Broadband Unlimited bundle for $94.95 per month

Once again, these bundles are available on both month-to-month and 24-month contracts. The pricing above applies to 24-month contracts, with month-to-month plans charging $5 extra per month.

Regardless of plan length or data cap, each includes unlimited local and national calls. Mobile calls are 20c per minute on the 50GB plan, and are included on the unlimited plan.

engin mobile broadband plans

There are three engin mobile broadband plans delivered over the Optus 3G mobile network:

  • 1GB mobile broadband for $10 per month
  • 2GB mobile broadband for $20 per month
  • 4GB mobile broadband for $30 per month

Each plan is offered on a 6-month minimum term and features no excess usage fees. Instead, after the included data allowance is used, the service will become restricted and extra data blocks can be purchased for $15 per 1GB.

Critically, it’s worth noting these plans are only offered on the Optus 3G network rather than its much faster 4G network.

How does engin compare?

Put briefly, engin’s NBN and mobile broadband offerings aren’t all that competitive. The company’s NBN plans don’t offer unlimited options and don’t include an awful lot of data, while its mobile broadband plans include almost no data and are very expensive for services offered on 3G only. In short, they’re poor value.

How do engin NBN plans compare?

To begin with, engin’s 50GB NBN Basic plan is a tough sell. Its $49.95 per month price tag is far higher than competing plans with similar or even larger data caps, as you can see below:

For 100GB, engin ups its speed to NBN Standard Plus, but it also bumps the pricing up dramatically. There are better-value plans offered by providers like MyNetFone and Flip TV for more than $20 less per month, and that’s a huge saving:

The top-tier NBN plan from engin includes 400GB of monthly data delivered at NBN Premium speeds, but packs a hefty price tag of $99.95 per month. At this price, unlimited data plans are available from many competitors, and even if you don’t really need that much data, you can get more than 400GB for quite a lot less:

How do engin’s ADSL plans compare?

Unlike NBN, ADSL services tend not to vary significantly between providers, especially for providers (such as engin) which do not maintain their own ADSL infrastructure and re-sell ADSL services provided by someone else.

All engin's ADSL plans fail to offer the same value as plans from providers like Dodo and AusBBS. No matter which plan you're looking at, engin's prices are far higher than the unlimited offerings available from the competition:

Unsurprisingly, engin’s bundled services are equally unappealing. You can save nearly half the price of its unlimited ADSL bundle by going with AusBBS or Exetel instead, and even Optus will offer a similar bundle for significantly less per month.

How do engin’s mobile broadband plans compare?

Mobile broadband offerings from engin start at $10 per month, and to be fair, this is one of the cheaper monthly plans on offer. However, for that price you're only getting 1GB of data over the Optus 3G network. Few other providers offer services at this price, but add in just a few dollars more and you can get far more data along with the higher speeds of the 4G network:

The 2GB plan from engin is even worse value, considering you can get 5GB for even less from the likes of Jeenee Mobile, Spintel and Moose Mobile.

It should come as no surprise that engin’s 4GB plan continues this unfavourable trend. For the same price, you can get twice as much data with Kogan Mobile or Catch Connect, plus you won't be stuck with the limitations of a 3G-only network.

Why should you consider engin?

While engin may be one of Australia’s top VoIP providers, this doesn’t mean that it’s a great option for NBN, ADSL or mobile broadband. In fact, many consider that engin is quite a poor option, and one worth avoiding almost completely across the board.

Given the (much) better value available from a large number of alternative providers, engin makes a poor pitch to potential customers. Perhaps the only advantage to engin’s broadband plans is the ability to receive broadband and VoIP services on a single bill.

However, for a price premium of up to $30 per month on some plans, most customers will probably accept the relatively minor inconvenience of having separate VoIP and broadband providers. You may decide that the premium is in no way justified.

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