My family moved from the US to Australia in 1987. Coming from Cleveland, a once bustling city that was well into its decline in the 80’s, we expected a culture shock. And we got one. Melbourne, even before the housing boom, was far more expansive, cosmopolitan and interesting than our rusted out home on the banks of the Cuyahoga (a river that acts as a warning to nearby Canadians by catching on fire from time to time).
Nowadays, Australia is topping the tables of livability, quality of life and LPH (Lattes per Head). Health care, infrastructure, employment, public debt – despite doomsayers in the media, Australia still reaches and even exceeds many of the Northern European nations in living standards, and has blitzed right past most of the US. But when it comes to Broadband, Australia is straggling behind the rest of the rich world, due to a mix of geography and market dynamics. For many native Australians, working out the best broadband deal is merely difficult; for visitors and new arrivals, it can be downright awful.
We’re going to compare for US and UK customers in this sample. Call us on 1300 106 571 for more info on comparing what you’re used to, to what’s available here in Australia.
Coming from the US
The American market is somehow even more confusing than the Australian one. But don’t tell a recent transplant that. Part of the reason for this is that there is no American market. The US is far more fractured and regional in most things, and moreso in telecommunications.
Here in Australia, every company relies on a monopoly owner of infrastructure (Telstra, and soon NBNco) to provide the basis of all prices and connections; in the US, there is no Telstra. Well, there’s technically three – Verizon, Centurylink and AT&T are the three companies that actually own and operate the exchanges, after a long period of there being several more “Baby Bells” that swallowed and regurgitated each other. It’s a mess.
For the yanks, here’s a list of things you’re just gonna have to get used to while you’re here:
1. Unlimited is not the default. Severe caps on data have been the norm in Australia, with unlimited plans only becoming common in the last few years. Over in the US, prices were tiered based on speed, and data caps weren’t even a consideration. They’re starting to become more common, for two reasons- as a way to further distinguish market segments, and because it’s now easier to download terabytes of data on a daily basis.
2. There’s a separate line rental you have to pay. Americans don’t pay a separate line rental, and aren’t incentivized to take on a landline phone service that they won’t use. BUT…services like cable or satellite TV are starting to play that part. Bundles are even more onerous in the US than they are here in Australia.
3. Two year contracts are the norm. Well, not exactly. This is slowly being phased out. TPG (1300 106 571) offer 6 month contracts as the norm. Club Telco (1300 138 155) don’t use contracts. In the US, 12 month contracts are the norm.
4. Avoid Mobile Broadband unless you know what you’re doing. Mobile Broadband isn’t as popular in the US, at least not the way it’s applied here. That’s mostly because Americans are used to unlimited data, and mobile broadband is very stingy, with plans maxing out at 18GB. If you’re looking for a similar service to what you had back home, stick with ADSL.
The similarities – If you live in a major city, you have a wider options of providers, and cable broadband might be available. Regional areas get slower speeds and fewer options.
Americans will grumble about the usual 10 day waiting period to get connected here, but it’s the same in the US.
Verizon Double Play - $54.99/month + Tax
Free calls – national, regional and local
12 month contract
Speed – Up to 15Mbps
TPG Unlimited Bundle + Chat pack - $64.99/month incl. GST - Call 1300 106 571
Free local calls, to landlines only. Nationwide and mobile calls charged extra
No included router
$100 connection fee + $20 phone line deposit
6 month contract
Speed – up to 24Mbps
And TPG is about the cheapest priced plan out there. You can bring that down to $45 if you don’t use more than 20GB in a month, but yeah, it is cheaper in the US, and you do get more bang for your buck- especially when considering that the US and Australian dollar have achieved parity for most of the last 2 years.
Coming from the UK
The UK market more closely resembles the Australian market. British Telecom is more or less equivalent to Telstra, as a former public utility provider, now a private outfit that provides most of the base infrastructure.
BT has arguably done a better job than Telstra at keeping the public, the government and the competition happy. BT is steadily rolling out optical fibre to replace their old copper, a move that Telstra could have made. Of course, Telstra has a possible maximum subscriber base of 12 million homes spread out over the world’s largest island, connected to the rest of the world by strands of optical fibre spanning tens of thousands of kilometers under the ocean. BT has 40 million homes in an area that would fit snugly into NSW, easily connected to a European market of 400 million people. That all plays a part.
I hear from a lot of UK transplants that Unlimited Data is the norm in the UK as well, but that seems to be changing- most of BT’s plans are limited to 10 or 40GB, and speeds are limited to 16Mbps. But that’s for ADSL. Fibre is more widely available in the UK, at speeds up to 38Mbps. Line rental, however, is similar. Line rental in Australia is usually around $30; in the UK it’s usually around £11, or $16 AUD.
But BT is a premium brand; let’s look at how TalkTalk, one of the UK’s best discount providers, stacks up against Dodo, Australia’s king of cheap broadband.
TalkTalk Broadband Plus - £16.75/month ($26 AUD) incl. line rental
Unlimited landline calls (calls to mobiles charged separately)
Free modem router
12 month contract
Speeds up to 16Mbps
Dodo Unlimited Broadband - $59.80/month incl. line rental (Call 1300 136 793)
No free calls
Free modem router
24 month contracts
Speeds up to 24Mbps
Brits have a right to grumble. Broadband costs a lot here, comparatively – even amongst low-cost providers. In the higher end of the market, the difference is even more stark.
So for Yanks and Brits who have come to Australia- expect to pay up to twice as much for comparable broadband in Australia. But don’t despair! Prices are getting cheaper all the time, and our national infrastructure is in the process of changing to a fibre base, which will at least boost the speed and reliability you get for that premium price- and might even help drive down prices over time. For now, call us for help in finding the best deal for your area.