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What to consider when choosing a broadband provider

In the early days of the Internet in Australia, choosing an ISP was completely restricted by your geographic location. It depended almost exclusively on which ISP had ports available at your local phone exchange. In many cases, that simply meant Telstra because they owned the exchanges.

With the arrival of the National Broadband Network (NBN), your choice of broadband providers is still restricted based on your location, but there is a much wider range of providers to choose from. The launch of the wholesale NBN network has allowed a lot of smaller ISPs to launch in an effort to try and cater to specific niche audiences. This could be a local community or a not-for-profit looking to offer charitable donations with the revenue from its services.

While your address will dictate the technology you will use to access the Internet, the provider you choose will depend on multiple factors. These are the factors you should consider when selecting your broadband provider:

What you should look for when comparing broadband providers

Contract lengths
Most broadband plans are offered on a 24-month contract. This can make plans cheaper, but restricts your flexibility if you plan to move house or decide you're not happy with your current provider. Plans that run for shorter periods or on a month-to-month basis also exist, though typically you'll pay higher installation costs and will often have to buy your modem/router/connection device outright.

Data allowance
The data allowance for broadband plans is typically measured in gigabytes (GB) per month. Many providers offer cheaper plans with lower data allowances, while others offer unlimited plans for a higher price. Determining how much data you will use each month will give you a solid start to choosing the best plan for your needs. However, be wary of providers that promote capped data plans on higher NBN speed tiers.

Extras
The bonuses offered by an ISP when you first sign up are the biggest differentiators between providers. Some ISPs offer unmetered access to streaming services like Netflix, while others bundle in pay TV from Foxtel or Fetch TV. If you sign up for an extended contract, most ISPs will supply you with a new modem router for free and possibly waive any set-up fees too.

Connection speed
For most technologies, you won't have any effective control over the speed – it will be the "best available" and is likely to vary based on your location and the condition of cabling and wiring. The NBN has multiple speed tiers, which allow customers to select the maximum theoretical speed they can access the Internet with. However, some providers don't offer all speed tiers, which could dampen your enthusiasm if you're looking for the fastest connection.

Pricing & minimum costs
The beauty of the NBN is that it has largely standardised pricing across ISPs. While you're likely to use the monthly cost as your basis for comparison, also look at the minimum total cost. If you sign up for a long-term contract, you'll often get a discount on installation fees and hardware, but you'll be stuck with paying out the whole contract if you decide it's not suitable.

Bundling discounts
Providers will often offer a discount if you bundle your broadband connection with other services such as pay TV, mobile phone or landlines. While this can save you money, make sure that all the bundled services are suitable for your needs and that you're actually saving money. Bundled deals will also usually require you to sign up for a 24-month contract.


Telstra

Telstra is not just Australia’s largest telecommunication provider but also its oldest.
Telstra offers broadband services on just about every connection medium available: ADSL2+, cable over the HFC networks, NBN over fibre technologies and fixed wireless.

Telstra offers plans on a month-to-month as well as on a 24-month basis. Installation fees vary based on the service and contract length.

It’s worth knowing that most Telstra services are based on bundling with a home phone service. In many cases, bundled services offer discounts on home line rental, making them slightly more appealing – but Telstra’s best plans are often restricted to 24-month contracts only.
Check out all of Telstra's plans here

Optus


Optus is Australia's second largest telco with Internet plans that use many broadband technologies, from ADSL2+ and NBN through to its own cable service. Optus also offers wireless broadband and mobile broadband plans that utilise their 4G network.

The key point of difference for Optus is its entertainment offering, which the telco includes on its flagship $90 plan and is available across its fixed-line broadband services (NBN, cable and ADSL2+).

The bundle includes a premium set-top box from Fetch and a subscription to an exclusive streaming service specialising in sports with Optus Sport. There’s also a phone service with competitively priced call packs.
Check out all of Optus's plans here

TPG

TPG has been around for over 30 years in Australia and has grown into the country’s second largest Internet service provider. TPG owns the second-largest ADSL2+ infrastructure in Australia as well as broad fibre-optic networks giving it the capacity to connect customers and to deliver high-speed connectivity in more locations.

Today, TPG offers both newer NBN connections and legacy ADSL2+ connections, with a focus on value-driven unlimited data plans at reasonable costs.
Check out all of TPG's plans here

Internode

Acquired first by iiNet in 2011 and subsequently by TPG in 2015, Internode has come a long way since its founding way back in 1991. Supplying a wide range of NBN and ADSL services across the country, it also offers home phone, voice over IP (VoIP) and entertainment services alongside its broadband plans for those wanting more than just basic Internet.

Regardless of the technology used, all Internode's broadband plans are available on both month-to-month and 24-month contracts, with multiple data tiers and speeds catering to a variety of Internet appetites.
Check out all of Internode's plans here

iPrimus


iPrimus has built one of the larger communications networks in Australia, with its own ADSL equipment in more than 66 exchanges around the country. It offers fixed line and mobile communication products, home broadband over NBN and ADSL as well as some value added services.

iPrimus advertises NBN plans at two speed tiers at present: NBN Basic (or 12/1 Mbps) and NBN Standard Plus (50/20 Mbps). It offers options for large data inclusions, unlimited data and an entertainment bundle that includes unlimited data and TV.

Their services are available on month-by-month plans or on 12- and 24-month contracts with varying up-front costs and sign-up bonuses depending on contract length.
Check out all of iPrimus's plans here

MyRepublic


MyRepublic launched onto the Australian broadband market promising a simple unlimited data plan with the fastest possible speed your connection can deliver. Since then, it has expanded its offering with two NBN speed tiers and a naked ADSL plan.

There's also a plan for gamers, where MyRepublic will prioritise game traffic, potentially reducing lag while playing online. In addition, all of MyRepublic's broadband plans include a voice over IP (VoIP) phone service with unlimited calls to Australian landline numbers thrown in for free.

The beauty of MyRepublic is its simplicity. There are no confusing data caps spread across different price points to worry about as all plans come with unlimited data and a VoIP service.
Check out all of MyRepublic's plans here

iiNet


As one of the longest-running Internet providers in Australia, iiNet has built quite a name for itself. Not only does it provide high-speed fibre Internet over the National Broadband Network (NBN), it has its own ADSL network separate from Telstra's available in select areas across the country.

All of iiNet's broadband plans share a few things in common. They all support both no lock-in, month-to-month contracts as well as 24-month contracts, and all but the slower satellite plans can be bundled with the streaming service Fetch to consolidate your Internet and entertainment costs into one bill.
Check out all of iiNet's plans here

Aussie Broadband


Aussie Broadband’s pitch is “congestion-free nbn” – and that's not just another marketing buzz term. The small telco sets itself apart from the competition by letting you specify a custom data cap instead of simply selecting from a handful of pre-defined tiers and guaranteeing they’ll minimise peak hour congestion on their network. Aussie Broadband is the only provider in Australia to offer such flexibility and bandwidth with its NBN plans.

Aussie Broadband also provides ADSL services throughout Australia. Both services come with no-lock-in contracts, too, saving you the stress of committing for the long term.

Though its broadband plans tend to be more expensive, Aussie Broadband offsets this with a greater emphasis on premium services and customer choice.
Check out all of Aussie Broadband's plans here

Mate Communicate


Mate Communicate is an Australian-owned telco with their customer service based locally in Australia. The company’s focus is on stress-free set-up, unlimited data on all plans and no lock-in contracts.

Mate Communicate keeps things simple with just three plans on offer plus an optional voice service on each. There’s no need to worry about how much data you’ll use since all Mate Communicate's plans come with unlimited data. The only thing to be mindful of is whether you will use enough data for unlimited data to be worthwhile.
Check out all of Mate Communicate's plans here

Dodo


Dodo is one of the more established names in the Australian broadband market, having supplied Aussie homes with Internet services since 2001. Unlike its namesake, the Melbourne-based telco is very much alive and kicking, offering NBN, ADSL and mobile broadband plans on month-to-month, 12-month and 24-month contracts.

Alongside its standard Internet plans, Dodo also offers home phone services delivered either through Voice over IP (VoIP) or the traditional landline network. It also caters to entertainment needs with its Fetch TV bundles, which combine the streaming service Fetch with either its unlimited ADSL or unlimited NBN plan.
Check out all of Dodo's plans here

Belong


Founded back in 2013, Belong provides streamlined NBN and ADSL plans to Aussies across the country. These plans support both 100GB and unlimited data caps, and are available on no-lock-in month-to-month contracts as well as 12-month contracts. Belong has a strong advantage over the competition in both set-up fees and minimum cost, making it an attractive proposition over both the short and long term.

In late 2017, Belong also extended their offer to include mobile plans, which as of this article are limited to SIM-only packages.
Check out all of Belong's plans here

amaysim


amaysim has grown massively since it launched in 2010 and today provides mobile services and NBN broadband to Australian households. It is one of the easier NBN providers to compare because it has just three plans. There’s no need to consider the impact of set-up fees, minimum term contracts or the like because amaysim doesn’t have any.

At a casual glance, amaysim’s mobile broadband plans stack up well against the competition, especially towards the higher end of the speed spectrum. Its lower-price plans are pretty standard across mobile providers

Check out all of amaysim's plans here

Vodafone


Vodafone is Australia’s third largest mobile network carrier behind Telstra and Optus, and it has more recently expanded its offerings to include NBN services.

These plans come with a unique hook which Vodafone calls Instant Connect. This allows NBN customers to use Vodafone's mobile network for Internet access while waiting for their NBN connection to be installed and activated. Like some other NBN providers, Vodafone keeps its service offering very simple. All plans offer unlimited data and differ only in the NBN speed on offer.

Check out all of Vodafone's plans here


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