Understand an internet plan

Once you’ve found out what sort of internet connection you can get, it’s time to understand how to choose an internet plan.

How do you choose an internet provider?

Firstly, you will need to get a rough idea of the sort of plan you need. There are five parts to any internet plan that you need to balance – location, speed, cost, customer experience and included data. Note that in general, faster services and plans with more data will cost more than slower plans with less data, likewise providers that offer more support are often more expensive.

This page will help you identify the sort of speed and data you might need in your specific circumstance. 

These concepts apply to both nbn and non-nbn services.

  1. Location.
  2. Cost:
    • How much you are willing and able to pay for your connection will affect the speed, data inclusions and technologies available to you. For example, a one off fee for the installation of boosting equipment might enable you to access mobile broadband. .
  3. Speed:
    • Internet technologies can come in different speed tiers, for both download and upload speeds, depending on the technology you are using and the plan you choose. Higher speed plan tiers can often cost  more.
    • Speed can also be limited by the technology delivering the service. 
  4. Data:
    • Some services offer unlimited data plans, although there are always some kinds of limitations on this.
    • Generally, you will pay considerably more for an unlimited plan, or one with very high included data.
  5. Customer Experience
    • Not all providers offer the same experience or level of support.
    • Customer support call centres can be located onshore or offshore, be open after hours, weekends, and public holidays or only opened during limited hours.
    • Providers also offer different tools to track your data usage, as well as different payment methods.

Other things you need to know about

All internet service provider plans will have this information in them somewhere. If you don’t see information on something of importance to you, contact the provider directly and ask them to explain it as plainly as possible.

  • Contract terms: Plans can be offered as month-by-month, annual contracts, pre-paid as need be, or even a single once-off payment (mostly for pre-paid mobile data services). Cheaper plans may sometimes be available if you lock yourself into a contract – generally 12 or 24 months. Some contracts might also includes offers such as a free router or free installation.
  • Number of users: Think of your connection as a road. The more cars on it, the slower the traffic moves. If you have many people in your home using the same connection at the same time, it will slow down the speeds available to each of you and will use up your data more quickly.
  • Connection equipment: You need equipment in the house to send and receive your internet traffic. The quality and setup of this equipment can impact the speed and reliability of your internet connection.  More information on equipment can be found on improving a connection.

    • The modem makes a connection to the internet. It will plug into a satellite dish, aerial, or in-ground cable, to receive the internet connection.
    • The router connects to the modem. It then creates a wireless signal across your house, property or business, which all your internet-connected equipment connect to using their “Wi-Fi” connection options.
    • For some connection types, the modem and router can be combined into a single piece of equipment.
  • Customer support. All service providers will have customer support services for you. These will include ways to check your usage and plans, notifications of outages and service upgrades, and helpdesk services you can call, message, or email for help.
    • These services can be located in Australia, or in call centres located elsewhere in the world.
    • They can be very quick to answer, or you can be placed on hold for hours, or get extremely slow responses to emails or messages.
    • Some support services don’t work on weekends or outside business or school hours, while others may be available all the time.

Finding an internet plan

This graphic is a guide to applying these concepts to choosing an nbn service provider. They do apply, however, to selecting any internet service provider (and even, to a certain extent, to selecting voice services such as mobile phone plans).

You can download the PDF version How to choose a service provider (1Mb) for printing out and using later.