Internet Plans

Finding the right broadband plan for your needs.

Last updated on April 19th, 2022 at 02:35 pm by Thomas Perrotta

Internet Plans

Internet plans are essential for most every home and business, whether that be for work or recreational use. It makes sense, then, to secure for yourself a great deal when it comes to broadband, one which suits your needs and doesn’t come at a great cost to you, your family or your business. Read more about internet plans and how to compare the best offers on the market in this comprehensive guide.

How do internet plans work?

Internet plans, or broadband internet plans, are straightforward in nature when it comes to how they work and how you can benefit from them. Essentially, when you purchase an internet plan, you’re buying access to an internet connection at a pre-determined download and upload speed and data limit. Not all plans are uniform in these areas; in fact, they’re a key point of difference between providers, so these are important points to account for when comparing the best internet plans.

Internet plans can often come with contracts of varying lengths, most often coming in the form of one- to-six-month deals. While these may seem like they can provide you with the greatest flexibility, that isn’t necessarily the case. If you’re not satisfied with a service one month into a six-month plan, for instance, you don’t really have too many options aside from staying with your provider. That’s where no lock-in contract plans come in handy, which afford you the most freedom of choice when it comes to your internet. Whilst they may come with initial setup fees that aren’t present on contracted plans, you can rest assured that you won’t be forced to stay with your provider if you don’t want to.

What types of internet plans can I choose from?

There are several key types of broadband plan that you’ll be able to choose from when conducting internet plan comparisons for your home or business. The first, and perhaps most important, consideration to make is the type of connection you’re looking for, as that will play a major role in shaping your experience using the internet. You’ll have two options for connections: fixed line and wireless internet connections.

Fixed line internet connections

As the name suggests, fixed line internet connections are established through a linked system of cables to your property from main connection lines (typically phone or electrical lines on your street). There are two choices for customers looking to buy a fixed line internet connection: the National Broadband Network (NBN) and the asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL). The caveat to this is that because the NBN is being rolled out to replace ADSL connections, your choice will be informed by whether your area has access to NBN connections.

The NBN is now offered in six speed tiers, with their names reflecting the maximum download speed (in megabits per second, or Mbps) they’re capable of achieving:

  • NBN 12
  • NBN 25
  • NBN 50
  • NBN 100
  • NBN 250
  • NBN 1000

Each of these tiers are designed to fit different purposes for different people, as some will require faster internet than others. An example may be that an NBN 1000 plan wouldn’t be suitable for a small family who use the internet sparingly, but it might be for a small or medium business who relies on faster broadband speeds. As you can expect, the prices of these plans increase as the maximum speed goes up (e.g., NBN 100 plans are likely to be more expensive than NBN 25 plans), so the raised cost is generally a trade-off for the improved performance of your internet connection.

The NBN’s new infrastructure is built around a system of fibre optic cables that are far more suited to the transfer of large amounts of data than the existing copper systems. However, NBN access is limited at this stage to eligible areas across Australia, so you may find that your home or business residence is unable to establish a connection of this nature. Your provider will be able to tell you whether you’re eligible for an NBN connection.

Despite its comparatively inferior performance, ADSL is still an option for Australians trying to establish an internet connection. ADSL2+ represents the most efficient choice when it comes to this kind of connection these days but is still only equivalent to an NBN 25 at peak performance and capable of offering speeds similar to those of NBN 12. Its primary benefit over NBN plans is the price range. While some providers will still offer upwards of $70 to $80 a month for an ADSL2+ plan, you’ll be able to find some for as little as $20 to $30 per month with budget broadband providers.

ADSL connections rely solely on the old and outdated copper cables originally designed for the transmission of phone calls, which impacts greatly upon its performance. Additionally, like the NBN, ADSL2+ access is restricted to homes and businesses which can maintain this kind of connection. If your area doesn’t have access to copper cables, you won’t have a choice when it comes to fixed line internet connections.

Fixed line connection Speed tiers Maximum download speed capacity Maximum upload speed capacity Price ranges
NBN
NBN 12 to NBN 1000
Either 12, 25, 50, 100, 250 or 1,000Mbps
Either 1, 10, 20, 25, 40 or 50Mbps
Depending upon speed tier, anywhere between $50 and $150 per month
ADSL
ADSL2+
24Mbps
1Mpbs
Anywhere between $20 and $90 per month

Wireless internet connections

The alternative Australians have to fixed line connections is to establish a wireless internet connection at their home or business. These connections are made not through physically connecting to a system of cables but utilising mobile data networks to provide a source of Wi-Fi to you and any other connectible devices present at the premises. This is especially useful if the NBN connection you’re looking for isn’t possible, either through access issues or the degradation of cables to your property.

Another bonus wireless plans hold over the NBN is the cost factor, as basement prices can be up to $10-$15 cheaper than cheap NBN plans. However, wireless plans are more likely to have data caps than fixed line plans, which could mean that they’re not as suitable for you depending on your needs. These can range from 200GB to 500GB per month, so they’re likely to still be useful for families whose internet usage isn’t incredibly high.

In terms of home or business internet plan comparisons, there are three networks that you’ll be able to choose from for your wireless or mobile internet connection: 3G, 4G and 5G. These networks all vary in terms of their performance, with the new 5G network being the strongest and fastest of the lot, and will increase in price accordingly. 5G is the most noteworthy aspect here, as it has the capacity to rival the top speeds achievable through the NBN. It’s thought to be able to reach up speeds of up to 1000Mbps, with a lower average speed still exceeding that of NBN 250 plans. It’s important to note that speeds are far more variable with wireless internet plans, as they can largely depend on where you live.

In addition to the standard home wireless internet connection, users can also look to purchase a mobile broadband connection that operates in a similar way. These have increased portability, as the name suggests, and can be offered at more affordable prices than home wireless connections. What this can potentially allow you to do is something called mobile tethering, meaning you use a device such as your phone as the primary internet modem and hotspot your other devices to enable Wi-Fi access. The beauty of this is that it provides you with internet access wherever you are, provided you bring your modem with you. However, this is a more expensive option overall and is only generally suitable as a short-term solution to internet issues.

Data usage on these plans is more restrictive, typically maxing out at 200GB per month while also accounting for the mobility of a connected device, such as a phone. If you’re part of a large family or business with extensive broadband data requirements, it’s unlikely that a mobile broadband connection will be the right option for you. As such, these are more suitable for those with lesser data needs.

Wireless internet connection Maximum download speed capacity Price ranges
3G
21 to 42Mbps
N/A*
4G
100Mbps
Depending on data caps, anywhere between $50 and $70 per month
5G
400 to 1000Mbps
Depending on data caps, anywhere between $65 and $115 per month

*3G plans aren’t typically offered on their own; this network tends to form part of 4G network plans.

How do I get the cheapest internet plan?

Fortunately, there are many ways you can look to minimise the amount you stand to pay for your internet plan. For most people, the monthly cost of this plan is far from insignificant, so finding ways to reduce this spend even by just a little bit per month can save you a massive amount in the long run. Some of the ways you can gain access to cheap internet plans include:

Compare internet plans all year round

Perhaps the most useful tip to help avoid being burdened by expensive internet plans is to always search for great deals being offered on the market. This will allow you to keep on top of current market deals and provide a sense of how much value you’re getting for the plan you’ve purchased. If you’re on a plan without a lock-in contract, searching for top deals can allow you to save a significant amount when jumping from one plan to another. Even if you’re under contract, though, shopping around will help you set yourself up to move to a cheap internet plan immediately after your term ends.

Don’t pay for unlimited data if you don’t need it

One of the key factors that influences the cost of internet plans is the data allowance afforded to you. A trap that many customers fall into is opting for the unlimited data option to assuage any fears of running out of internet before the end of the month. While it does indeed provide peace of mind, it could also be costing you money you wouldn’t otherwise have to spend. Assess your data usage and see whether you can get away with a smaller cap (100-200GB, for example) before committing to a pricey plan. Opting for a data cap can save you well over $100 per year in some cases.

Consider the type of connection you want

The type of internet connection you decide on will factor into the price of your internet plan also. Fixed line and wireless connections offer different deals, with wireless typically offering the cheapest on the market. Additionally, if you’re wanting to purchase an NBN plan, you can reduce the cost by potentially sacrificing download speeds and opting for a more basic plan. For example, if you can afford to work with slightly slower internet at your home or business, you might resist the temptation to purchase an NBN 100 plan in favour of NBN 50.

Look to bundle different plans together

Some providers, particularly larger ones like Optus and Telstra, will offer a wide range of services not limited to internet plans. You’ll often be able to take advantage of this by bundling several plans together with the same provider, such as electricity, gas and phone plans. In doing so, your provider will offer a price cheaper than that of each of these plans purchased individually. Even if you end up paying more for utilities, for instance, it may end up being worth it for you to save money on your internet plan.

Pay for a short-term contract if you’re certain you’ll stick with it

While it may seem odd to recommend sticking with a contracted internet plan, it can end up saving you some money that would’ve been spent on a no-contract plan. Because you’re guaranteed to be in business with your provider for the duration of your contract, you’ll be able to benefit from a cheaper service which usually excludes initial costs like set-up and modem fees. Additionally, ongoing fees and costs tend to be lower with contract plans than they are with no-contract plans. Therefore, if you’re certain that the service you’re paying for is an acceptable one, or that you’re happy to prevent release from the contract, a contract might be the cheapest option for you.

Skip out on any other inclusions on your plan

Many providers will throw in other benefits and inclusions on their top broadband internet plans to help sweeten the deal for you. This works by marketing additional features or services at a lower cost than what you would normally buy as part of your internet plan. This is all well and good, but the question then becomes whether you need these extra features. A major example of this is a landline phone, which is falling more and more out of relevancy as people stick to using their mobile phones for all purposes. If you want a no-frills, nuts and bolts internet plan, look for those which don’t cost more due to these inclusions.

Explained: the best internet plan for you and how much data you need

Top tips on how to compare the best internet plans

Firstly, compare your options with Savvy

Savvy is the best place to compare the top broadband internet plans on the market. Our comprehensive comparison tools allow you to see how each plan stacks up in the areas that matter the most to you.

Consider the type of internet provider

Different internet providers will be able to offer you different services when it comes to plans. Larger providers are likely to be able to offer more expansive customer service than smaller ones, as well as a wider variety of products. However, they may not be able to offer their internet plans as cheap as their smaller competitors do, so it’s about weighing up what you value in an internet provider the most.

Contrast different internet connection types

Fixed line and wireless connections, as discussed, bring with them numerous variables that can impact your internet experience. Consider the areas which matter the most to you; do you need the fastest internet speed on the market, or do you want to be able to move your connection more freely?

Look at the costs of different plans

Of course, it’s crucial to compare the cost of internet plans when undertaking home internet plan comparisons. Even savings of just $10 will make a big difference over the course of a year or two, so don’t enter the internet plan comparison process without the cost of plans in the forefront of your mind.

Compare internet speeds and data allowances

Another key factor is the performance of the internet that you’re buying. Will it suit your speed needs? Consider also how much data you’ll need per month, as capping your total usage at too low a point could prevent you from using the internet carefree as you should be able to do.

Frequently asked questions about internet plans

Can I switch from an NBN internet plan to an ADSL plan?

No – if you’ve converted your ADSL plan to an NBN plan, you’ll be unable to switch back. This is because any existing ADSL cables will have been either integrated into your NBN connection or disconnected entirely. ADSL connections are no longer being built either, so plans are only available to those who are already on ADSL broadband.

What are Fibre to the Node NBN plans?

Fibre to the Node (or FTTN) is the method by which the NBN connects to your home. A central cabinet is established in your area, to which new fibre optic cables are connected. These new cables are then connected to existing copper cables present at your home.

Why is upload speed important on the top broadband internet plans?

Upload speed is particularly important for internet users who are looking to upload large files such as videos and/or extensive documents on their internet plan. Having to wait around for minutes, or even hours, for files to upload isn’t viable for those who need to do so for a living. Upload speeds generally go hand in hand with download speeds, so you’re unlikely to get a good deal on one and not the other.

Do I need to buy a new modem for my internet plan?

Not necessarily – you won’t always have to buy a new modem, and not doing so can help you save money on your internet plan. This is because modems can come at an extra cost to customers buying internet plans, which is especially important to note if they’re already on a plan which utilises an effective modem that would work just as well.

Are there ways I can increase the speed of my internet without buying a more expensive plan?

Yes – one of the easiest ways to do this is to reduce the number of devices operating on your Wi-Fi network at any one time, so that there’s more bandwidth to go around. Other things, such as not using the internet as much during peak hours or shutting off background programs, can help speed up the connection to your TV or phone.

How can I switch my internet plan?

Fortunately, switching to a new internet plan isn’t as challenging as it sounds: simply give your provider notice that you’ll be moving to another plan or service. If this is moving from one provider to the other, you’ll have to make sure that anything linked directly to your provider, such as your phone or emails, is able to be safely transferred to your new internet plan. You’ll also need to ensure any new equipment required (such as a modem) is set up to save on internet downtime.

Can I cancel my internet plan contract before its term finishes?

Yes – however, you’re likely to be met with significant fees for doing so prior to the completion of your contract, so be mindful of that when deciding whether to cancel your plan.

Should I upgrade to the NBN if I’m still happy with my ADSL connection?

You may not have to at this stage, but ADSL connections will eventually become obsolete, so NBN connections will essentially become the only option for fixed line connections.