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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 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:
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 cut unlimited plans back to 1,000GB on higher NBN speed tiers.
One feature of the NBN is its multiple speed tiers, which allow customers to select the maximum theoretical speed they can access the Internet with. Some providers, however, don't offer all speed tiers, which could dampen your enthusiasm if you're looking for the fastest connection.
The beauty of the NBN is that it has largely standardised pricing across ISPs. However, there are still some providers who charge a premium, while others run regular sales, which could help you get a better deal for your Internet connection. To help with this, it's worth remembering to compare prices across providers using our comparison tool.
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 setup fees too.
If you're a renter likely to move or you're just waiting for the NBN to rollout to your address, signing up for a 24-month contract may not make the most sense. In that case, consider broadband providers that offer month-to-month or short-term contracts to prevent you from having to break your contract when you move or sign up for the newer broadband technology.
Some of the larger broadband providers also run mobile networks and you may be able to combine both home and mobile accounts to get a bundling discount. If you can find both a broadband and mobile plan to suit your needs, these bundles could be a good way to save money.