Why can’t I have a plan at the cheap prices advertised?

  • False Advertising?
  • Broadband pricing explained
  • Suggested plans for regional Australia

This is a classic question, asked often by puzzled or irritated Australians: why can’t I have a broadband plan at the cheap prices advertised? You see it on billboards, find it online, and hear it on the radio: lots and lots of broadband for a cheap, cheap price. You go to get that plan and suddenly it’s doubled or even tripled in price. What is going on? Are these companies trying to rip you off? Are they false advertising?  Unfortunately no, it’s not a conspiracy; it is all part of the big complex, messy web of telecommunications here in Australia. Understanding the basics of how the broadband industry works will help you understand how broadband pricing works.


The Internet and how it works
In Australia the standard, most popular and accessible form of broadband connection is ADSL. Two features of ADSL that you should definitely get to know is: one, it uses the telephone line to work; and two it is not equal access to everybody. If you wrap your head around these two ideas then finding the right plan for you will be much easier.

Let’s take the first point about the telephone line and explain further. ADSL broadband works by using your telephone line. The internet comes from your telephone exchange, it travels down your telephone line and then to your house. Now, Telstra owns all telephone lines in Australia. And if you’re going to use their telephone lines you have to pay. This is where most people get tripped up. They see a cheap “internet only” plan but don’t realise they need to pay extra for telephone line rental. Even if you do not make any telephone calls you are still using the line to access broadband.

The second aspect of ADSL that confuses most people is that it is not available equally in all areas around Australia. Not every internet provider has installed their equipment or network at every single telephone exchange in Australia. The only company who has a network at each and every exchange is Telstra.

So to put all this information back into perspective. When an internet company advertises their super cheap broadband plan they can only provide it at this price if they have their own equipment or network at your telephone exchange. If they do not have their own equipment, they can often rent Telstra’s equipment to provide you with a connection. And if this is the case, you guessed it, they charge more! If the company needs to pay Telstra to give you a connection they will pass this charge onto you the consumer. Most companies call these plans their “Off-Net” plans or “Regional” plans.


So are you just stuck paying more than everyone else?

The unfortunate situation is that broadband access is very unequal in Australia. Generally, heavily populated areas like major cities and their nearby suburbs will have plenty of choice and at cheap prices, while regional areas will have limited choice and at higher prices.

Before losing hope the first thing you should establish is whether you are in an area where only Telstra is available. If you have only tried getting broadband with the really cheap companies like TPG or SpinTel then try contacting a few of the larger companies like Internode (1300 381 672) or iiNet (1300 213 295). The bigger companies generally have a larger network around Australia than the super cheap companies. Just because one company can only offer you Off-Net or Regional plans doesn’t mean all companies will be the same.
If you have already done the ring-around and it seems you are in area where you can only get Telstra or Off-Net/Regional plans then unfortunately you will pay more than most people for broadband.

 

Some suggested plans

iiNet Off-Net ADSL bundle for $89.90 per month, call 1300 213 295
This plan gives you access to 200GB of data per month (100 on peak / 100 off peak). Again, this is not as cheap as iiNet’s regular plans but it is good value considering iiNet will be using Telstra’s network to provide you with a service. This is also the price of broadband bundled with a telephone line.

This is a good plan to consider if you use the internet a lot and need a large amount of data.

Internode Easy Reach for $79.90 per month, call 1300 381 672
This plan gives you access to 60GB of data per month. It is a good plan if you use the internet regularly but not heavily. The plan comes bundled in with a telephone line. If you are worried about usage amount or want more data then give Internode a call on 1300 381 672 to discuss.