Broadband and phone bundles with cheap international calls
It's not fun having to cut short a phone call with friends or family overseas just because you are worried about an expensive bill. It's even less fun when the bill arrives. Fortunately, keeping in touch with your loved ones abroad need not lead to a shocking bill, as there are plenty of competitive phone and broadband plans with great international call rates available.
Landline phone with broadband bundles
Bundling your phone and broadband service together can save you money on your internet and line rental costs, but some of these plans also include very cheap – or even free – international calls. Not all international destinations will be included, so it's a good idea to call each provider and make sure the country you will be calling is on the list.
TPG's home phone and ADSL2+ bundles are among the cheapest on the Australian market, starting from $39.99 for 10GB and line rental. While local calls are more expensive than other providers at 25c per call, international calls are surprisingly cheap. A call to a UK landline, for example, is just 1.99c per minute after a 39c connection fee. That's just $1.58 for an hour's worth of chatting. Call us on 1300 106 571 to sign up to a TPG plan.
iiNet also has a good value bundle plan, which includes cheap international calls to 20 countries, including the UK, China and South Africa. On iiNet's Phone 1 plan, calls to the 20 countries on the list cost just $1.98 for up to 30 minutes, with a 39c flagfall. Variable rates apply after the first half hour. Call iiNet on 1300 106 571 to sign up for a plan.
Engin is another broadband provider offering relatively cheap long-distance calls. Engin is better known for its VoIP plans, but also offers a landline bundle with a broadband connection, starting from $49. A call to the UK using Engin's Landline Ignition plans costs just 4c a minute, with a 20c flagfall. This works out to $2.60 for an hour. The advantage of bundling your broadband and your home phone service with Engin is that local calls are free. Call Engin on 1300 121 064 to sign up to a plan.
If you want to keep your broadband and home phone as it is but liked TPG's prices, you can opt to 'pre-select' your long-distance calls with TPG. There is no contract and no monthly access fee. You just agree to be charged by TPG for all your national, international and fixed line to mobile calls. Some home phone carriers will bar you from preselecting another provider but this service is available to most people.
VoIP is an acronym for Voice over Internet Protocol. It's a way of making voice calls over an internet connection and has grown in popularity sound quality and reliability has improved. Many businesses now use VoIP instead of traditional phones because the call rates are so much cheaper and most people are familiar with Skype, which is a popular VoIP provider.
You can use VoIP to make cheap, or even free, calls abroad. All you need to do is download some software onto your computer – most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will offer this for free from their website – and buy a headset. If you have a laptop, chances are there will be a microphone and a speaker built in, so you won't need one, unless you want some privacy on your call.
Alternatively, you can buy a VoIP box, which you plug into your modem. You can then plug your telephone handset in and use it exactly like an ordinary phone – you won't need to be on the computer to use it, and you can receive calls on your VoIP number. The only difference between this and an ordinary phone will be the cheaper bills.
Engin has some great VoIP plans, which you can bundle with a broadband connection or just add to your existing plan.
On the $9.95 per month starter plan, calls to a UK landline cost 3.5c a minute, which works out to $2.10 for an hour. Local and national calls on this plan are untimed. If you make a lot of international calls, you could go for a $19.95 home plan. In this plan, calls to eight countries are free, while an additional 13 cost just 20c – for as long as you want. You will need a Voice Box from Engin, the cost of which varies depending on which plan you are signing up to.
iiNet offers cheap VoIP plans, which are included in Naked broadband plans as iiTalk, or can be bundled together with a home phone and broadband deal, as NetPhone.
On iiTalk, local and national calls are free, while international calls start from 5c a minute. For the UK, calls cost 5c a minute, which makes an hour's phone call $3. On the NetPhone plans, UK rates are also 5c a minute but there may be a charge for local and national calls, depending on which bundle you select.
All prices and plans are accurate as of October 5, 2010. Check our website for the latest plans from leading Internet Service Providers.