With the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN), it can sometimes be easy to forget that ADSL connections still exist in Australia. Even though these connections will be eventually entirely phased out, many households and businesses across the country still rely on its broadband to fulfil their internet needs. As such, there are plenty of plans on offer to those still in this boat. To find out about them, how they work and how to compare the best cheap ADSL plans, read more in this comprehensive guide.
ADSL stands for asymmetric digital subscriber line and was previously used as the most common fixed line broadband connection in Australian households and businesses. Connections of this nature are delivered via existing copper cables which are also used as phone lines. These cables run into your premises and ultimately connect you to the network of cables running along your street or in your area. Because these cables weren’t initially designed to transmit broadband data, ADSL connections are gradually being replaced to cope with the rigours of data transmission in the current day.
ADSL2+ is the most recent addition to ADSL internet plans, and is comfortably the fastest with maximum download speeds of 24Mbps (megabits per second). However, this only represents the speed that it’s capable of; you’re likely to find that speeds delivered on ADSL2+ plans are closer to 10Mbps or less in some cases.
Part of the ADSL connection is the use of an active phone line, which connects your home or business to other copper wiring. However, you don’t have to have a phone line in use to utilise this internet and can do so through a Naked DSL connection. This essentially means that you won’t have to pay the rental costs for maintaining this phone connection, but this doesn’t actually mean that you’re saving money by disabling a linked phone. Your ISP then becomes responsible for covering that cost and will raise the price of your plan as a result of this.
There are a number of key differences between ADSL broadband plans and NBN plans, which you should be aware of when searching for the right internet plan. Bear the following factors in mind when comparing the best ADSL and NBN plans:
How they operate
As previously mentioned, ADSL broadband plans transmit data through copper cables connected to phone lines. However, the NBN conducts information through specially designed fibre optic cables. There are several different ways in which an NBN connection can be established, which contrasts with the nature of ADSL connections. This can include installing fibre optic cables directly from your home or business to an NBN access point (Fibre to the Premises or FTTP) or make use of copper cables in building this connection in Fibre to the Node (FTTN), Fibre to the Curb (FTTC) and Fibre to the Building (FTTB).
While ADSL connections are restricted to 24Mbps as a maximum download speed, NBN plans can offer speeds far beyond this capability. This is because the copper cables that ADSL lines make use of hinder the transmission of data, while the fibre optic cables used by the NBN are designed to achieve fast and effective connections. ADSL’s two main speeds (ADSL 1 at 8Mbps and ADSL2+ at 24Mbps) stand in comparison to the NBN’s six speed tiers, which are capable of reaching up to 100Mbps and can now even achieve downloads at a remarkable 1000Mbps on the new NBN 1000 plan.
As you may expect, ADSL plans are generally the cheapest option of the two. This is more or less down to the performance of the internet: it makes sense that you would pay less for an internet connection that is inferior in terms of speed compared to another, more expensive one. However, you’ll find that unlimited ADSL2+ plans may not be substantially cheaper than some of the lower-performance NBN tiers such as NBN 12 or 25.
Simply put, very few ISPs still provide ADSL broadband plans. Telstra is one of the primary suppliers in this arena, as they own some of Australia’s major phone line infrastructure, while MATE and Dodo are amongst the few others to still offer ADSL internet plans. Optus still provides ADSL to its existing customers on these plans but closed its service to new customers in 2020. In contrast, NBN plans of varying speed tiers have flooded the market, with a wealth of options at your disposal when choosing between the best plan to suit your needs.
ADSL internet plans are likely to be amongst the cheapest options you’ll come across when shopping for internet
Unlimited ADSL2+ plans are not just available, but are the most common deals on offer for ADSL customers, saving on any potential data worry
If you’re only using your internet for light browsing and checking your emails and social media, an unlimited ADSL2+ plan can deliver on speeds you’ll need
At a capacity of just 24Mbps, and an average speed much lower, your ADSL connection may not support the speeds you need
A dearth of options on the market means you won’t have as much choice of ADSL plans as you would for other types of internet
ADSL will eventually be completely replaced by the NBN, so it’s not an internet plan to buy into in the long term
You don’t want to be paying more for your internet than you need to, especially when it’s not a high-performance connection like ADSL. It’s wise to operate within a budget for how much you expect to pay for your internet service, as this will help weed out options outside of your financial limitations.
ISPs are different when it comes to how they conduct their services. For example, bigger ADSL providers like Telstra can offer you extensive customer support services that a smaller ISP like MATE can’t. However, you may prefer to go with a smaller budget provider, as these can often provide you with some of the best internet deals.
Whether your ADSL plan comes with a contract is of particular importance if the NBN becomes available in your area. You don’t want to be locked into an ADSL plan as its lifespan runs down and be hindered in your ability to move to other plans before the connection cuts out.
You might like to bundle a landline phone in with your ADSL internet as part of your plan, or you might simply want the plan on its own. Ensure you know what you’re looking for when searching for ADSL broadband plans and compare between options that suit your needs in this area.