Satellite, ADSL, cable and mobile broadband connections in Australia

Compare Broadband's guide to broadband connections available in Australia.

Satellite


What is it? The broadband connection is delivered to the home via a satellite transceiver. Satellite broadband uses the same satellites that send and receive television and telephone services.

Who is it for? Residents in regional or remote areas where ADSL or wireless broadband is unavailable.

What speeds are available? Satellite broadband tends to be fairly slow, and will not reach speeds available on ADSL2+ broadband. Typical speeds available are 256/64mbps, 512/256kbps and 1mbps/512kbps.

How much does it cost? Satellite broadband can typically cost anywhere between $20 per month up to a massive $500 per month.

Who offers it? There are limited providers who offer satellite broadband, but the main providers are Optus (1300 137 897), Telstra Bigpond and Westnet (1300 768 134).

Pros: wide-spread coverage, it’s faster than dial-up, a home phone isn’t needed for satellite broadband. While the set-up cost can be very expensive for satellite broadband, the Australian Government offers discounted satellite broadband installations as part of the Australian Broadband Guarantee (ABG).

Cons: more expensive than other types of broadband connections and not as fast.

Mobile Wireless Broadband

What is it? Mobile broadband uses 3G coverage which is provided by one of the mobile networks. A small USB modem plugs into your computer or laptop to connect to the tower.

Who is it for? Mobile wireless broadband is targeted toward broadband users who aren’t close enough to the telephone exchange to get ADSL broadband. It is also suitable for people without a fixed home phone and people who need to use access the internet on the go.

What speeds are available? The problem with mobile broadband is that speeds tend to fluctuate depending on how many people in your area are receiving coverage from the same mobile tower. Speeds can range from 256kbps-1mbps. Expect speeds to slow down during peak hours (weekends and evenings). It is slower than ADSL1 but much faster than dial-up.

How much does it cost? Mobile broadband can cost anywhere from $15 per month to $100 per month.

Who offers it? A range of ISPs, including Vodafone, Virgin (1300 106 571), Optus (1300 768 194), 3 and Bigpond.

Pros: it can be used wherever there is 3G coverage, no home phone line is needed, cheap setup, available as a prepaid service.

Cons: not as fast as ADSL, unreliable speeds, not a lot of data is included in the plans (maximum of about 10GB per month).

ADSL1

What is it? ADSL1 broadband uses the telephone copper wires to provide high-speed broadband. It can be wireless within the home if you purchase a wireless ADSL modem.

Who is it for? ADSL1 broadband is generally for residents in rural areas who are close enough to a telephone exchange. It is also an option for residents in metro areas who may have an infrastructure problem which prevents them from getting ADSL2+ (such as their telephone line being on a pair gain system).

What speeds are available? The most popular download speeds available for ADSL1 customers are 512kbps, 1500kbps and 8000kbps. These are theoretical maximum speeds only.

How much does it cost? ADSL1 broadband can cost anywhere from $35 per month up to $120 per month.

Who offers it? A range of ISPs offer ADSL1, including iiNet (1300 106 571), TPG (1300 106 571), Optus (1300 137 897) and Westnet (1300 768 134).

Pros: high-speeds available, option to bundle your ADSL broadband with your home phone, short contracts available, large amount of plans to choose from, option to connect wirelessly in your home.

Cons: not as fast as ADSL2+, need to have an active phone line; speed deteriorates the further you are away from the telephone exchange.

ADSL2+

What is it? ADSL2+ broadband is predominantly available in metro areas, and it’s what most city-dwellers tend to use for an internet connection. A connection is made via the telephone copper wires. Unless you opt for Naked DSL, you will need to have an active home phone line.

Who is it for? City-dwellers who need a cheap broadband connection.
 
What speeds are available? ADSL2+ broadband is usually advertised at a maximum download speed of 24,000kbps. However, you can expect that your ADSL2+ connection will most likely be somewhere between 4mbps-10mbps. It will also depend on the quality of your copper phone line.

How much does it cost? Plans generally cost between $30 per month up to $120 per month.

Who offers it? There are a range of ADSL2+ ISPs, including iiNet (1300 106 571), Optus (1300 137 897), TPG (1300 106 571) and Dodo (1300 136 793).

Pros: plans with a lot of data included, a range of contract lengths available, fast speed, option to bundle your ADSL2+ broadband with a home phone.

Cons: an active phone line is needed unless you get Naked DSL, speed can deteriorate based on factors such as distance from the exchange, quality of the copper line and what type of modem you have.

Naked DSL

What is it? Naked DSL uses an ADSL2+ broadband connection. The only difference is that with Naked DSL you can disconnect your phone line so that you don’t have to pay phone line rental.

Who is it for? Customers in metropolitan areas who don’t want to have to pay phone line rental. Customers who still want to use a fixed phone line could also bundle their Naked DSL service with a VoIP connection to take advantage of dirt cheap call rates.

What speeds are available? See speeds on ADSL2+.

How much does it cost? Naked DSL plans start at about $50 per month, however you will not need to pay home phone line rental in addition to this.

Who offers it?  There are a range of providers who offer Naked DSL, including iiNet (1300 106 571), Optus (1300 137 897), TPG (1300 106 571) and Dodo (1300 136 793).

Pros: No home phone line rental, fast speeds, plans which include a large amount of data, option to use a VoIP service to make cheap phone calls.

Cons: speed can deteriorate based on factors such as distance from the exchange, quality of the copper line and what type of modem you have.

Cable

What is it? Cable broadband is a premium broadband service which uses the same fibre optic cables as Pay TV. It is available in limited areas around the cities.

Who is it for? It is targeted toward customers who rely on a high-speed internet connection and who are prepared to pay a bit more for the extra speed.

What speeds are available? The maximum theoretical download speed on cable broadband is 30mbps, however this will be affected by a range of factors such as your location, the equipment you’re using and internet traffic.

How much does it cost? Plans vary from about $30 per month up to about $100 per month. The installation cost may be a bit higher than an ADSL2+ unless you already have the cables installed from a Pay TV service.

Who offers it? Optus (1300 137 897) and Telstra Bigpond are the big cable broadband providers in Australia.

Pros: superfast, large download plans available, no need for an active home phone, customers with Pay TV may be able to bundle the service with cable broadband, less lag than with ADSL broadband (good for gamers).

Cons: more expensive, higher setup costs, actual speed can vary just as with ADSL broadband. 

Fibre Optic Broadband

What is it? Fibre-to-the-home is a newer type of broadband connection which is currently being rolled out across Australia. The thin glass or plastic strands carry light at a very high speed across long distances, making it capable of much faster speeds than on copper wires.

Who is it for? At the moment it is only available in very limited areas which include Point Cook and areas in Tasmania.

What speeds are available? Fibre optic broadband guarantees a lightning fast speed of 100mbps. There are also plans available on 25mbps and 50mbps for lower costs.

How much does it cost? Currently the plans range from about $25 per month to $130 per month.

Who offers it? So far, Exetel, Internode, iPrimus, and iiNet have released fibre optic internet plans. Both Telstra and Dodo have committed to releasing plans in the future.

Pros: Super fast speeds, low maintenance once the infrastructure has been rolled out, wide coverage across Australia, speeds are stable.

Cons: The $43 billion dollar price tag attached to getting the fibre optic broadband network rolled out.