Your comprehensive guide to broadband price comparison

There are many different elements within each broadband internet plan on the market. Read over our broadband comparison guide below; it will provide you with the upper hand to successfully completing this tough decision making process.

You’ve started to look around at all the broadband internet plans on the market, but choosing the right one is proving to be more difficult than first anticipated. Each plan has numerous variables and features making it quite hard to decipher which plan would be the best one to suit your individual needs.

Price!

Everyone in the world will tell you the most important element to a broadband plan is how much you pay for it. The challenge for consumers begins when we take into account each plan’s time frame, cost for equipment, cost for usage, plus download speed and data limits. You are probably going to have to grab a calculator, as there are numerous mathematical factors to consider before signing onto a broadband contract’s dotted line.

What’s available in your location?

Each provider offers different kinds of broadband from various telephone exchanges, so your first step is to find out what each company can offer you at your location. You will have the choice between four speeds of ADSL broadband, ADSL2+ broadband, Mobile Wireless broadband via a mobile phone tower, or satellite broadband.

Decision-making factors:

After ascertaining who can provide the type of service you desire, you’ll need to calculate a number of factors. These are: line activation/contract set-up fees, monthly access charge, modem/equipment fees, possible excess usage charges or shaping speed, potential cancellation or transfer fees, changing of plan fees, download limits, connection speed, on and off-peak time periods, and if applicable, both telephone line rental charge and the cost of phone calls. This may sound like a lot to consider, but it’s not as complex as you might imagine!

1. Line activation/Contract set-up fee:

Internet service providers usually have a one-off fee they charge to set-up your service. This fee often reflects expenses the service provider needs to cover in order to activate a port at your local phone exchange. Sometimes contract set-up fees can be waived if you choose a contract with a longer length, E.G. 18-24 months. If you’re already on an ADSL connection, you may be able to do a ‘churn’ (rapid transfer), which usually involves a lower contract set-up fee, and less time to activate the new service.

2. Monthly access charge:

This is simply how much you are charged for internet access each month. Figure out what your budget is and do your best not to go over your limit!

3. Modem/equipment fees:

If you don’t already own one, you may need to pay for a modem/router for either an ADSL, ADSL2+, or Mobile Wireless connection. There is quite a difference in price for machines sold by the different companies, and there are many modem types, not to mention levels of quality, so ensure you are getting what you pay for. Some providers offer free modem/routers if you are going on a long contract. There are also other pieces of equipment you can buy, like line filters, or reception enhancing antennae for Mobile Wireless, so find out the costs accordingly if any are needed.

4. Excess usage charges:

Many internet providers charge for excess usage if you reach your plan’s download limit. These charges can range anywhere from 50 cents a Gigabyte all the way to 15 cents a Megabyte (which is equal to $150 per GB!) This aspect of a plan is very important to be conscious of, as excess charges can blow out to thousands of dollars if you are on the wrong type of plan. Not all providers charge for excess usage, with some shaping your connection speed (slowing it down) when you reach your capped limit.

5. Shaping Speed:

If your plan is shaped (slowed down) when you reach your download limit (instead of having excess charges), you’ll need to find out what the shaping speed is. Shaping speeds can range anywhere from 64kbps (dial-up speed!) up to 4mbps/4,000kbps. The faster the shaping speed the better as your internet experience will be less affected after reached your download limit.

6. Cancellation fees:

Ask providers how much they charge for an early cancellation from their service. Some providers like Exetel have a flat fee, E.g. $100, whereas others like TPG charge up to $350, depending on how many months remain on your plan. Some companies may make you pay for the entire remaining amount on your plan!

7. Transfer fees:

If you suddenly have to move to a new address, but want to keep the same broadband plan, you’ll probably have to pay a transfer fee. This is of course conducive upon whether or not the same service is available at your new residence. Transfer fees can range anywhere between approximately $45 and $145, with charges being related to what type of broadband type you change to, E.g. From ADSL to ADSL2+, an ADSL phone bundle to Naked DSL etc.

8. Changing of plan fees:

Whether you are under contract or not, your provider may charge for downgrading or upgrading your plan. When upgrading to pay for more data each month, it is often free to make the change. However, if you are changing the speed of your plan, a fee is usually involved. Downgrading a plan almost always incurs some sort of penalty. As these fees can range from as little as $25 all the way up to $115, it’s worth finding out beforehand.

9. Download limits:

This is basically how much you can use your broadband connection each month. Every time you go online it uses up your download limit, and it uses a lot more data when you download songs or watch YouTube videos. Plans have limits ranging from 200Mb to 200Gb (1,000 times more!), and these days, unlimited plans are not unheard of (check TPG and AAPT).

10. Connection speed:

This is a very important aspect of your broadband internet connection as it determines how fast you can interact on the web, as well as how long it takes for things to buffer, load up, or download. Broadband speeds range from 256kbps all the way up to ADSL2+ speeds of 24,000kbps, but if ADSL2+ isn’t available in your area, it’s recommended to get at least an ADSL 1,500kbps speed.

11. On and off-peak times:

Some plans’ included download limits are accessible 24 hours a day, but others only offer an on and off-peak time scheme. These off-peak periods can make up a large proportion of the total download quota, but in some cases are only accessible in the middle of the night. Off-peak times can range from 2am-8am up to 12am-2pm, so make sure you aren’t signing on to a plan where all of your download data can only be used while you’re asleep!
If applicable – (When signing up to a broadband and landline telephone bundle)

12. Telephone call costs:

If you are signing up to an ADSL broadband and telephone bundle package, you’ll need to take the price of telephone calls into consideration. Some companies offer free calls, and there’s a huge differentiation between each provider’s call costs, so figuring out how you’ll be charged for local, STD, mobile and international calls is an imperative. Are you being charged in 30-second block periods, or by the minute? How much are flag fees? Are there any cap periods (E.g. 20 minutes) where you will only be charged a maximum amount?

13. Telephone line rental charge:

How much are you being charged for the rental of your landline phone? The average cost is around $30, but there can be deals like TPG’s current $1 a month plan. However, cheap landline rental doesn’t always equate to a better deal, as call costs can quickly usurp any savings you may have had.

Take all these factors into consideration and in no time at all you’ll be connected to a great broadband internet connection where you can feel secure in knowing you’ll never end up with a giant bill or low quality connection.