Planhacker: NBN Price Roundup February 2012

NOTE: This guide has been superseded. Click here for the most recent version.
It might be a while before the NBN is arriving in your area, but the pricing options and plans continue to evolve. Planhacker brings you an up-to-date guide to what you’ll pay for the NBN.

We’re updating this Planhacker listing to reflect recent price changes by Exetel, which has cut prices on some plans but also ditched many of its options. (Optus also announced small business NBN plans this week, but Planhacker only covers consumer plans, not business options.) In response to reader request, we have also separated peak and off-peak download limits.

Note that you can still only get the NBN in pilot locations. We’ve rounded up the expected rollout schedule for this year, and as the service expands, there should be many more providers. In particular, we’re waiting to see what Telstra comes up with.

ISPs offering NBN services have to choose from a set of standard speed combinations, but beyond that they are free to set whatever policies they like in terms of download limits, shaping policy, peak and off-peak availability, contract length and other terms.

In the table below, we’ve listed the options available from Exetel, iiNet, Internode and Optus, the four ISPs that have released general market pricing for consumers. We’ve included monthly fees; speeds; downloads limits (peak, off-peak and total); setup fees; contract lengths; minimum cost over the length of the contract; what speed your connection gets shaped to if you exceed those monthly limits, and whether those limits include uploads as well as downloads. Note that the setup fee generally doesn’t include an NBN-ready modem (you’ll have a range of these to choose from, depending on the provider, and some will make them free depending on the length of the contract).

While there are a large number of plans, you can sort and filter the table by clicking on the column headers, so that you can (for instance) only see plans running at 100/40, or sort in order of total download limits or prices.

A few important notes: iiNet’s plans include matching peak (8am-2am) and off-peak (2am-8am) components, while Optus’ also have variable amounts of peak (12pm-12am) and off-peak (12am-12pm)options. We’ve listed each separately, but recommend careful consideration before taking up a plan . (Yes, you can schedule downloads to take advantage of off-peak, but it’s better to have connectivity you can use when it suits you.)

Optus customers adjust speeds by adding speed packs to their basic plans ($10 a month for 50/20, $20 a month for 100/40), which we’ve reflected in the table. Note that the $39.99 plan is only available if you have an Optus mobile; other plans may have discounts if you’re already an Optus customer. Optus’ $64.94, $109 and $129 plans (at 25/5 speed) also include phone service, so be cautious in directly comparing them to other options.

Exetel is the only provider which doesn’t count uploads and has the most generous shaping speed. When it first cut back on its range of plans, it didn’t offer anything with more than 100GB, but after adding a 300GB plan for $70 a month, it comes out looking pretty impressive.

Internode is the only no-contract option currently available. Its shaping speed is low, but you can pay extra for higher shaping speeds or additional data bundles, and it has the highest download limits overall. Optus’ offer of free installation is handy and we like that it doesn’t have contracts, though there’s no guarantee that will remain the case in the future.

For full details of each plan direct from the provider, hit the links below:

One final point: every time we write about the NBN, some commenters will point out that they can get a bigger download limit from their existing provider for less money right now and argue they don’t want to change. It’s worth remembering that not everyone is blessed with the same choices you are, and that no-one is being forced yet to switch to the NBN in areas where there are a large range of providers. By the time it hits your area, the pricing will certainly be different.

Lifehacker’s weekly Planhacker column rounds up the best communication deals.

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