Internet Savings Guide

Here are the tools you need to find quality internet service for less, whether it's NBN, ADSL, Cable or Mobile Broadband.

Guide Contents

    The ABC of NBN

    A) When is it coming to me?

    The National Broadband Network (aka the NBN) is currently rolling out across Australia with the aim to have more than 8 million homes and businesses operating on superfast internet speeds by the year 2020.

    It is estimated that more than 50 percent of Australians will have access to the NBN by the start of 2018.

    You can find out exactly when NBN connection is scheduled for your neighbourhood by visiting Whistleout’s* NBN rollout map here.

    Rollout maps are designed to keep you up to date on the approximate arrival time as well as the type of connection that will be available to your residence.

    B) What do I have to do once it arrives?

    Eventually, you will probably need to find a new plan.

    Once the NBN is connected at your address, you have 18 months before the old copper wire that carries ADSL broadband is disconnected.

    Whilst connecting to the NBN will be free for most homes, you could be asked to cover the cost of installation or a form of hardware fee.

    For instance, if you are installing NBN to a newly built home, NBN charges your provider a $300 service cost, which could be added to your start-up fees.

    Your new NBN plan will then cost you a certain amount per month, like current broadband plans.

    NBN is the wholesaler, not the retailer. Just like you do with your current internet service, you will need to select a plan with a retailer/provider.

    To pick a plan, you need to decide what speed you require (a new decision) and how much data you need (not a new decision: you’ve probably already picked a data limit for your current broadband plan).

    C) How do I pick a speed?

    Subscribers have the choice between 4 speed options with a fixed line NBN. It should be noted that not every internet provider offers all speed services.

    In general terms, the speeds on offer are:

    NBN Product Name Speed
    Basic NBN 12 12Mbps
    Standard NBN 25 25Mbps
    Standard Plus NBN 50 50Mbps
    Premium NBN 100 100Mbps

    So, if you’re just a casual, everyday, social media user, you might just require the Basic speed – which is designed to deliver half the maximum speed of an old ADSL plan.

    However, if you work from home and do lots of file sharing or have a family or household of internet addicts then you would probably benefit from the higher speed options, such as 50 or 100Mbps. Of course, it also depends on your budget.

    Top tip

    Just like the traffic on the road slows down at peak hour, so too does the internet. Some providers are now advertising a more realistic “evening speed” on their plans, which is a very useful guide.

    D) How do I pick a data limit?

    When it comes to choosing your NBN plan, your decision will also be determined by the amount of data you require on a monthly basis.

    43% of Australians are exceeding their data plans on a regular basis, according to research from Deloitte, so be realistic about your usage.

    Large households or big internet users are now turning to unlimited data plans to make sure they never go without.

    Unlimited plans mean you can spend countless hours watching your favourite Youtube channels or Game of Thrones without worrying about exceeding your data. They no longer cost an arm and a leg, ranging from just $50 to $80 a month.

    But you might not need to pay for unlimited data.

    Top tip

    Look at your previous broadband usage to crunch the numbers or use an online data calculator before picking a plan.

    One of your old internet bills will usually display your monthly usage history. If you don’t keep a paper trail, you can always go online to your provider’s webpage, and log into your account to find out.

    Here is a quick overview of what kind of internet plans are best for popular online activities.

    (NB: These recommendations are based on using just one of these apps or services, so if you’re using more than one regularly, consider opting for a larger allowance.)

    50GB 100GB 500GB Unlimited
    Email YES YES YES YES
    Web Surfing YES YES YES YES
    Facebook YES YES YES YES
    Skype YES YES YES YES
    Music Streaming MAYBE YES YES YES
    Online Gaming MAYBE YES YES YES
    YouTube NO MAYBE YES YES
    Streaming TV NO NO NO YES
    Downloading Movies & TV NO NO NO YES
    Downloading Video Games NO NO NO YES

    E) How do I pick a provider?

    More than 4 in 5 households are reportedly staying with the same provider, but moving onto the NBN is a great opportunity to shop around and see if you can get better value.

    Visit a good comparison website and you will discover there is a plethora of broadband plans available from over 60 registered internet service providers (also known as ISPs).

    Website Details
    Whistleout.com.au* The most comprehensive comparison site for telco products in Australia.
    Finder.com.au Also comprehensive, comparing over 30 providers and over 300 plans
    Youcompare.com.au* compares plans from 11 providers including most of the big brands

    To ‘bundle’ or not to ‘bundle’?

    You’ve probably heard about the benefits of “bundling” multiple telco services with a single provider.

    Yes – bundling is more convenient and can make settling your monthly bills easier and quicker.

    But do the PROs of bundling outweigh the CONs?

    And, most importantly, does bundling actually save you money?

    Case study, November 2017: Bundling vs Un-bundling

    EXAMPLE 1: Telstra’s “Entertainment Plus” bundle*.

    For $130 a month with a 24-month contract, customers receive unlimited data, Telstra Gateway Frontier Modem, pay as you go calls (national and international options available) as well as your choice of Telstra TV + Foxtel Now or Foxtel from Telstra entertainment package.

    In addition to the monthly charge, new customers are also billed $99 activation fee.

    For those eager to also bundle their mobile with Telstra, we’ve added the 10GB Telstra BYO SIM only plan: Go Mobile Plus*.

    For $49 per month (12 month term) this online only offer includes unlimited national talk & text (Standard 2 min call costs $2) and international roaming day pass.

    While this bundle plan doesn’t include a mobile discount, some Telstra mobile customers do get access to bonus mobile calls.

    TOTAL COST: $179 per month plus home phone call charges plus set-up fees ($99 for the broadband).

    EXAMPLE 2: Alternatives from rival Optus.

    Like Telstra, the Optus website does not advertise a bundle option with mobile plan included.

    But after a little bargaining with the salesperson in the Adelaide call centre, we “haggled” a 10GB BYO SIM plan for $40 per month with unlimited calls and texts.

    This offer was based on the condition we also took out Optus’s 60 Plan*, which features unlimited broadband with wifi modem included (and zero set-up fee) and is priced at $60 a month for 24 months.

    For an extra $20 per month, we added the Optus Made for Entertainment package, which includes Yes TV by Fetch, Optus Sport (the official home to all English Premier League games) as well as pay as you go calls.

    TOTAL COST: $120 per month, plus the cost of calls from your home phone.

    EXAMPLE 3: Un-bundled alternatives

    Next we used the Whistleout.com.au* comparison website to completely ‘unbundle’ and get each service from a different provider.

    We selected the ‘I already have a phone’ option, and searched for plans with 10GB data and unlimited calls and texts. We pick a Vaya BYO Mobile plan* for $36/month and no lock-in contract.

    Next: broadband. Dodo’s ADSL Unlimited* plan from $29.90 per month is hard to go past for price, even when you consider the $99 upfront fee. But it does not include a modem.

    So we added a TP-Link 300Mbps router for $155 (although you might have a modem already and no need for another one).

    Finally, PAY TV. Foxtel’s POP PACK from just $15 per month provides a range of entertainment, comedy, drama and reality TV from Australia and around the world including every new HBO drama and Foxtel Originals. Sports lovers will need to spring for the premium pack from $29 per month.

    TOTAL COST: $80.90 a month, plus set up fees ($155 for the modem and $99 for the broadband).

    THE VERDICT:

    The monthly cost of mobile, broadband, home phone and Pay TV ranges from $80 to $180 and the set-up fees from zero to $254. In the end, it depends what really matters to you. Now it’s your turn to decide which option provides the most bang for your buck!

    9Saver Partner offers
    WhistleOut TV-Broadband Bundles



    How to find the cheapest internet plan to suit your needs

    Here are the basic questions you need to answer in order to find the cheapest plan for your needs:

    1. How do you want to get the internet? (i.e. Pick a pipe!)

    ADSL or NBN? Cable or wireless? How do you decide which way to get your broadband?

    Don’t be confused by all the acronyms: they’re just different types of pipes.

    The major difference is the connection between the “node” (buried under a footpath nearby) and your home. This connection can significantly influence speed and efficiency.

    TYPE WHAT IT MEANS
    Cable broadband Involves running a coaxial cable to the node and then fibre optics from the node to your home – much like a Foxtel connection! Speeds run up to 30 Mbps, however, this can slow down the further your house is away from the “node” and at peak times, when there are more people online.
    ADSL or ADSL 2+ Involves running a copper cable from the exchange to the node and then to your home. Speeds run up to 24 Mbps, however, this can slow down the further your house is away from the “node”, and at peak times.
    NBN Involves running fibre optics to the node and then a cable from the node to your house. But average speeds do not slow down the further your house is away from the “node” and at peak times, because users aren’t put into “group nodes”.
    Mobile Broadband No cables! This broadband arrives via a wireless signal on the same 4G network that mobile phones use. In other words, it’s the same as the data that you download on your phone.

    Wired versus wireless?

    There are some performance advantages to wired internet connection such as cable, ADSL and NBN.

    Wireless signals can be impacted by busy traffic and network congestion and even the design of your home. Appliances, cabinets, metal walls or concrete flooring can disrupt the signal from your router, which is why you’re often buffering your favourite Netflix show.

    What’s more, if you work from home and carry out networking tasks, which need greater bandwidth, stream high resolution video or music content, wired connection is much quicker and, generally, more efficient overall.

    2. How much data do you need?

    As explained above, the data needs of Australian households are skyrocketing.

    With streaming services, social media and online gaming driving up data needs so fast, the market changes quickly and it pays to re-assess your plan every year or two.

    The latest ABS data suggests the average Australian used almost 50% more data in the 2016-2017 financial year than the year before.

    And 43% of Australians are exceeding their data plans on regular basis, according to new research from Deloitte, so be realistic about your usage.

    Large households or big internet users are now turning to unlimited data plans to make sure they never go without.

    Unlimited plans mean you can spend countless hours watching your favourite Youtube channels or Game of Thrones without worrying about exceeding your data. They no longer cost an arm and a leg, ranging from just $50 to $80 a month.

    But you might not need to pay for unlimited data.

    Top tip

    Look at your previous broadband usage to crunch the numbers or make use of a data calculator before picking a plan.

    One of your old internet bills will usually display your monthly usage history. If you don’t keep a paper trail, you can always go online to your provider’s webpage, and log into your account to find out.

    Here is a quick overview of what kind of internet plans are best for popular online activities.

    NB: These recommendations are based on using just one of these apps or services, so if you’re using more than one regularly, consider opting for a larger allowance.

    50GB 100GB 500GB Unlimited
    Email YES YES YES YES
    Web Surfing YES YES YES YES
    Facebook YES YES YES YES
    Skype YES YES YES YES
    Music Streaming MAYBE YES YES YES
    Online Gaming MAYBE YES YES YES
    YouTube NO MAYBE YES YES
    Streaming TV NO NO NO YES
    Downloading Movies & TV NO NO NO YES
    Downloading Video Games NO NO NO YES

    Click here for more detail on your data needs from WhistleOut.com.au*

    3. What's your “need for speed”?

    For most internet options, there is only one speed.

    But NBN subscribers have the choice between 4 speed options with a fixed line NBN. For more on this, read the Guide on “The ABC of NBN”.

    4. Compare, compare, compare!

    The internet is the most powerful tool for money-saving since the spreadsheet.

    It has never been easier to pick a plan thanks to how sophisticated online comparison websites have become.

    Once you’ve answered the questions above, you can jump onto one of these sites and let them do the work for you.

    Top tip

    Don’t lose any sleep trying to pick between the top 5 or so options – once you’re looking at your top 5, you can’t really go wrong.

    Website Details
    Whistleout.com.au* The most comprehensive comparison site for telco products in Australia.
    Finder.com.au Also comprehensive, comparing over 30 providers and over 300 plans
    Youcompare.com.au* compares plans from 11 providers including most of the big brands

    And the fastest internet in the land is…

    Speed-testing company Ookla recently revealed the fastest telcos and cities in Australia for broadband.

    The fastest overall average speeds across the 24-hour day were, in rank order:

    1. Optus*
    2. Telstra*
    3. TPG
    4. iiNet*
    5. iPrimus*

    But (and it’s a big BUT), Telstra was the fastest during the peak hours of 7-11pm, when most of us use the internet most.

    The table below shows the average speeds across all providers:

    Average Speeds Download(Mbps) Upload(Mbps)
    All hours 24.12 8.48
    Peak (7-11 p.m) 21.96 7.7
    Off-peak 25.75 9.08

    Telstra was also named fastest for mobile data speeds, with Vodafone and Optus nipping closely at their heels.

    Telstra posted average mobile download speeds of 44.20 Mbps and upload speeds of 14.32 Mbps.

    Fact

    Mobile speeds are almost twice as fast on average as fixed-lined broadband in both downloads and uploads.

    Top cities for speedy internet

    The list of Australian cities with the best fixed-line speeds is surprising with regional towns Geelong and Newcastle in 1st and 3rd place respectively – and Brisbane in 2nd.

    Rank City Average Download (Mbps) Average Upload (Mbps) ISP
    1 Geelong, Victoria 67.05 22.15 iiNet
    2 Brisbane, Queensland 35.08 23.56 Optus
    3 Newcastle, New South Wales 33.97 14.74 MyRepublic
    4 Wollongong, New South Wales 33.72 19.78 MyRepublic
    5 Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 32.47 14.12 iiNet
    6 Gold Coast, Queensland 32.17 9.07 Optus
    7 Melbourne, Victoria 31.63 20.58 Spirit
    8 Sydney, New South Wales 30.03 16.27 MyRepublic
    9 Darwin, Northern Territory 29.62 13.89 iiNet
    10 Hobart, Tasmania 27.25 11.74 Telstra
    11 Adelaide, South Australia 21.93 10.74 TPG
    12 Perth, Western Australia 17.9 7.59 TPG

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