Finding the right contract length for your broadband plan

Before signing up to a broadband contract, be it ADSL, ADSL2+, Mobile Wireless, Cable, Fibre optic, or satellite broadband, one of the first decisions you’ll need to contend with is the length of the contract period.

Contracts can be anything from prepaid, month-to-month, 6-month, 12-month, 18-month, to 24-months in length, and each period has its pros and cons.

ADSL and ADSL2+ broadband internet are the two most popular forms of internet in Australia today. This type of broadband travels along a telephone landline, and is generally sold on plans ranging from month-to-month to 24-month contract lengths.

Shorter contract periods:

The advantage of a short contract like a ‘month-to-month’ option is that you have the flexibility of knowing you can move house or change to a different service without being hit by a large cancellation fee. However, be careful as some month-to-month plans charge cancellation fees if you leave in the first six months, so make sure you know what you are signing up to when you begin.

Short contracts like these are great for people renting homes on short leases, or who don’t know how long they will live at a specific address. They’re also good for those of us who don’t want to feel tied down to one service for a long period of time. It’s no fun being stuck with one company’s plan when you see new, better plans on the market.

Longer contract periods:

The advantage of going on a longer contract, such as a 24-month contract period, is you often are offered cheaper (or free) set-up costs, as well as reduced prices on (or free) modems.

Some people only want to pay what they use. This is a concept used by prepaid mobile wireless plans, as well as in some fibre-to-the-home broadband options. Prepaid plans can be purchased month-to-month, or over longer periods of time where the data stays valid for months, or even a year.
It’s not unheard of for a person to not want to think about broadband bills each month, and in this respect a year long prepaid mobile wireless plan would be a valid choice.

Whether you are going on a short, medium, or long contract, it’s in your best interest to do your sums and figure out the total cost over your entire intended period of usage. Some companies may sound expensive at first because of higher set-up or modem fees, but in the long-term they actually end up being cheaper than a company with a free set-up. This is because their plan’s monthly cost is much less, and so the ‘free-set-up’ actually ends up being paid for over time, and then some.

However, you may be happy to spend more over time if it means not having to spend a large amount of money right away for set-up and modem. Note: You should also take into account potential phone call costs if part of a bundle plan, and excess internet charges if the plan isn’t shaped (slowed down) when you reach your monthly data quota’s limit. Here are a few samples of different plans with varied contract periods:

-    Vodafone Pre-paid 2GB Mobile Wireless broadband: $29.00 per month (Vodafone – 1300 433 823). Great for people who want to pay only for what they use.
-    Club Telco ADSL2+ 10GB stand-alone broadband plan: $30 month-to-month contract (Club Telco – 1300 138 155). A good stand-alone broadband plan when you want to keep your phone service with the current provider. Club Telco has no set-up fees, very cheap modems, and no peak/off-peak times.
-    TPG ADSL2+ 10GB broadband plus $30 phone line rental: $9.99 per month on a 6-month contract (TPG – 1300 106 571). Easily the best ADSL2+ home phone bundle in Australia today.
-    iPrimus ADSL2+ Starter Plus 40GB broadband plus $29.95 phone line rental: $29.95 per month on a 12-month contract (iPrimus – 1300 137 794). iPrimus has bundles that include unlimited calls to local, national and mobile phone numbers.
-    TPG Naked DSL 50GB VoIP broadband plan: $49.99 per month on an 18-month contract (TPG – 1300 106 571). A great option for those of us who want to get rid of our landline and just make VoIP calls over the internet, or use our mobile phones to make all of our calls.
-    iiNet ADSL1500kbps Home 2 Netphone 2 100GB broadband plus $29.95 phone line rental: $49.95 per month on a 24-month contract (iiNet – 1300 106 571). A great bundle for people who cannot get ADSL2+ in their area, but who need a lot of data, and an option for unlimited local and national calls.