• Biggest ISPs out of 104 Australian ISPs
  • How to pick: does bigger mean better?
  • Compare prices, customer service, and quality of service

You’re looking to get broadband internet and want to know who the biggest internet providers in Australia are. As of Dec. 2010 the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said there were 104 internet providers to choose from, 12 of which were deemed ‘very large’, 21 ‘large’, and 71 ‘medium’ in size. So, who are the big internet companies? Does bigger always mean better? We at Compare Broadband attempt to find out.

At the end of 2010 there were around 10.45 million internet subscribers in Australia, accessing the world wide web via ADSL, ADSL2+, Cable, Mobile Wireless and Fixed Wireless Broadband, Fibre optic, satellite, or dial-up internet.

As of the beginning of May 2011, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) offered some insight into how many customers a number of internet providers serviced in the Oct. 2010 – Mar. 2011 period.

For internet providers not listed in the TIO survey, we looked at a statistical blog entry from Aug. 2010 at ‘The Bernoulli Trial’ website, which estimated ISP customer numbers by crossing data from a Roy Morgan survey taken from Apr. 2009 – May 2010, and ABS stats from Dec. 2009. This element of the analysis is more historical and approximate, but it should still give people a rough idea about who the big players are in Australia’s internet industry.

First up, the ‘Big Four’:

Telstra BigPond:

BigPond had 3.95 million customers in early May 2011. Telstra is by far the largest internet provider in Australia, a result of its past government-owned incarnation Telecom, which laid the majority of copper phone lines around Australia.

BigPond is generally the most expensive of all internet providers, but its levels of customer satisfaction are below industry average, and are located offshore. BigPond’s NextG network often has the best mobile wireless broadband coverage and speeds, but its ADSL broadband is similar to the competition.

Optus: 2.24 million customers accessed their internet through Optus as of May 2011. Optus has the other major copper wire ADSL network in Australia, a speedy cable broadband network, and has extensive Mobile Wireless broadband tower coverage. The majority of Australian Mobile Wireless providers resell from the Optus towers. Optus has increased its levels of customer satisfaction of late, but its support teams are also based overseas. Call Optus on 1300 137 897 for more details about its internet plans.

iiNet: As of May 2011, iiNet had around 650,000 customers. iiNet has made a name for itself by having a very high level of customer service, which is based onshore in Australia. iiNet grew quickly by taking over other internet providers Netspace, Westnet and a part of AAPT. iiNet can cost a little bit more than budget providers, but of the top three internet providers in size, its levels of customer satisfaction are by far the highest. Call iiNet on 1300 106 571 for more details about its plans.

TPG: TPG had around 535,000 customers back in May 2011. TPG has grown rapidly by offering incredibly cheap plans with large or even unlimited data quotas. TPG’s customer service is based offshore, but if you have a good connection you shouldn’t need to call your internet provider very often. TPG has run extensive marketing campaigns online, on TV, the radio, billboards, tram stops, and on the sides of trams and buses. TPG has made its mark by offering the fastest broadband internet possible at cheap prices, minimising the barrier to entry as much as possible for all Australians. Call Compare Broadband on 1300 106 571 to find out more about TPG plans.

The Next Tier of ‘Very Large’ Australian Internet Providers:

There are a number of internet providers on the next tier, still seen as being ‘very large’ in the Australian internet market. Internode, Eftel (1300 106 571), iPrimus (1300 137 794), Dodo (1300 136 793), Vodafone, AAPT, Exetel (1300 106 571) and Virgin Broadband (1300 106 571) are all quite large, while Adam Internet, TADAust and Unwired also have a significant number of customers.

A few more stats for you from the May 2011 TIO report saw Internode with around 150,000 clients, and Eftel with circa 120,000. Then as mentioned in the opening paragraph, we have some approximate numbers related to Dec. 2009 figures: iPrimus had approximately 227,000 customers, Vodafone (now including 3 Broadband) had around 318,000, Dodo had approximately 240,000, AAPT had 256,000, Exetel had around 154,000, Unwired 131,000, Virgin Broadband 118,000, Adam Internet 100,000, and TADAust approximately 89,000. Note: Remember these are estimated numbers based on crossing over ABS stats and a Roy Morgan survey.

General information about the big broadband providers:

What can we tell you about these internet providers? Internode is renowned as having the best onshore based customer service in Australia, iPrimus has Australia-based technical support for its cheap ADSL and ADSL2+ bundles that often include phone calls, Eftel has high data ADSL2+ plans on month-to-month contracts for cheap, Vodafone owns one of the three main Mobile Wireless broadband tower networks, which it is improving as we speak, Dodo has incredibly cheap deals, probably the lowest in the country, Exetel has budget ADSL2+ bundle plans on the Optus network including 9,000 minutes of phone calls, and Virgin Broadband has some of the best Mobile Wireless plans around.

Are the bigger internet providers better?

So, are the biggest internet providers the best? We don’t think this is the case, but in many instances it’s worth doing your research. Shop around and find the most suitable plan for your unique needs. All of the internet providers mentioned here are large enough that you won’t need to worry about them disappearing overnight.