When signing up to a broadband internet plan because of a large amount of download data being advertised, be careful, as this data quota may be split into on and off-peak times. You may find the majority of your internet usage quota is for the middle of the night when you are asleep.
Search unlimited broadband plans with no on or off peak times.
The idea of on and off-peak time periods came about because broadband providers didn’t want their services to slow down during the times of the day when most people are online.
Customers downloading large files like TV shows or movies can have an impact on everyone else’s ADSL speed, so the idea was to get people to set-up there computers to do this downloading overnight when the majority of internet users weren’t online.
However, in the competitive Australian ADSL and ADSL2+ marketplace, some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have bucked the trend and offered their data quotas for use anytime. Generally speaking however, ISPs would rather you did normal web surfing activities after work and in the evening, while saving your heavy downloading practices for the middle of the night. This can be achieved by setting your computer to download on a timer.
One important point to consider is that if your data is split between on and off-peak times, when you go over your monthly limit in the off-peak period, you’ll still be able to access the internet when you need to during busy times of the day. This means your off-peak time period broadband speed could be slowed down (shaped), but your on-peak time would still be running at normal, fast speeds.
On and off-peak times vary between ISPs, so it’s good science to compare before signing up to a long contract. If your broadband provider has longer off-peak times it means you may be able to download large files when you are awake in the morning, as data limits during off-peak times are almost always larger than their on-peak counterparts.
Here are some of the main Australian ADSL and ADSL2+ broadband providers and their on and off-peak time periods as of May 3, 2011. You’ll see some ISPs say they have no off-peak time, which can be great, but be wary if the total data quota is small.
Also necessary for consideration is what happens when you reach your limit in either period. Your speed may be slowed down, and this shaped speed varies a lot between providers and plans. Then there are other providers who will charge for excess usage, and these fees can also vary a lot between companies. Ensure you know everything about a broadband provider’s individual plan before signing the contract.
On and off-peak time periods by Australian ADSL broadband provider
Note: Also provided is information on shaping speeds and excess usage fees.
BigPond: No off-peak times. Shaped down to 64kbps when you reach your quota.
Optus: Off-peak period is 12am (Midnight) to 12pm (Noon). Shaped down to 64kbps when you reach your quota in either period.
TPG: Off-peak periods are 1am to 9am. Shaping speeds are 64kbps, 128kbps, 256kbps, 512kbps, 1Mbps, or 4Mbps (depending on the size of the plan you are on) when you reach your limit in either period.
TPG also offers an unlimited broadband plan with no shaping. Call Compare Broadband on 1300 106 571 for more details on this plan.
iPrimus: Off-peak periods are from 2am to 10am, 12am (Midnight) to 12pm (Noon), or data is available anytime (depending on the plan you are on). Shaped down to 256kbps when you reach your limit in either period.
Note: Some iPrimus plans have truly unlimited data quotas, which means you can use as much data as you want, there are no peak time periods, and no slowing down of the connection.
Internode: No off-peak times. Shaped down to either 128kbps or 256kbps (depending on the plan you are on) when you reach your limit.
Dodo: Off-peak periods are from 1am to 12:59pm. Once your limit in either period is reached you will be charged excess fees of 10 cents per MB ($100 per GB) until a quoted “maximum plan cost” is reached. Definitely check to see what this “maximum plan cost” is in order to ensure you don’t receive any massive bills!
Once the “maximum plan cost” is reached you can purchase additional data blocks (On peak: 2GB for $10, 5GB for $15, 10GB for $20, 25GB for $30; Off-peak: 10GB for $5, 25GB for $10, $50GB for $15), or access to your connection will be completely blocked until the next monthly billing period.
Dodo also offers an unlimited broadband plan with no shaping. Call Dodo on 1300 136 793 for more details on this plan.
SpinTel: Off-peak periods are from 2am to 9am, or anytime (no off-peak period), depending on which plan you are on. Shaped down to 72kbps when you reach your limit.
Note: Some SpinTel plans have truly unlimited data quotas, which means you can use as much data as you want, there are no peak time periods, and no slowing down of the connection.
Exetel: Off peak is 1am to 9am, or no on and off peak, depending on the plan. Once allowance is reached speed slows to 1024/384kbps until your next billing cycle starts.
Club Telco: No off-peak times. Shaped to 1Mbps.
Club Telco also offers unlimited broadband plans with no shaping speeds. Call Club Telco on 1300 138 155 for more details.
Eftel: No off-peak times. Shaped down to either 64kbps or 256kbps (depending on the plan you are on) when you reach your limit.
Eftel also offers unlimited broadband plans with no shaping speeds. Call Eftel on 1300 106 571 for more details on this plan.
Hopefully you now have a better idea about on peak and off-peak time periods, as well as their associated shaping speeds or excess charges. The two other main points to consider will be the total data quota of each plan, plus whether or not uploads are counted as well as downloads towards your monthly data quota.
Once you have a handle on these numbers you can then estimate which broadband provider’s plan will be the most appropriate for your home’s internet usage habits.