Planhacker: Every Unlimited Broadband Plan

There was a time when unlimited broadband plans proliferated, but these days your choices if you want a truly unlimited connection are relatively limited. Planhacker rounds up what's still on offer for NBN and ADSL2 customers.

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Since we last looked at the unlimited broadband sector almost a year ago, there have been two notable trends. Firstly, the number of plans on offer has continued to shrink somewhat. Secondly, we have seen the emergence of the first unlimited NBN plan, from AusBBS. (TPG announced plans for unlimited NBN in September last year but never followed through on them.)

As we've explained before, the economics of how Australian providers pay for the internet connections which are onsold to customers mean that unlimited download plans are relatively rare in the Australian market. If you use massively more than every other customer on your plan, your provider may decide to invoke an acceptable usage policy. (Agreeing to this policy will be part of the process of signing up, so your ability to complain on this point will be limited.) Some also have more specific restrictions, such as blocking torrent traffic or charging more in regional areas. We've noted specific details for each provider under the table.

Note that we're only including NBN and ADSL2 plans here. In some Planhacker pre-2012 roundups where we looked at unlimited broadband, we have included slower ADSL1 plans as well. However, the reader consensus opinion is that these don't deserve consideration: the speeds are too slow to be useful for most purposes, and the options are often no faster than the shaping options available on ADSL2+ plans with a download limit. The theoretical maximum for ADSL2+ is 20Mbps, though in practice it's often much lower.

In the table below, we've listed the ADSL2+ and NBN unlimited plans for home users currently available. For each, we've included their monthly cost, the standard setup fee (which could be lower if you are moving from an ISP that supports rapid transfer) and the total minimum cost over the lifetime of a contract. (For a 0-month contract, this usually equates to the setup fee plus one month’s access, though many providers charge an additional fee if you quit before 6 or 12 months.)

We haven't included equipment charges, since many people will source their own routers. We've focused on plans available outright without needing a separate mobile phone plan, since there's a definite move against landline plans in the market. That won't always represent the best value; you need to weigh up whether you'd also like to pay for phone services (and landline rental).

You can sort and filter data in the table below by clicking on the column headers (so you can only look at sort in order of total price, for instance).

Here are the specific details and quirks for each provider.

AusBBS

As the sole NBN offering in this list, the main differentiator for AusBBS' offerings is speed; we've listed the available options in the table. Note that there's no option to add a phone line to your NBN connection on this plan, though AusBBS says that will happen in the future.

AuNix

The major disadvantage of the AuNix offer is that the unlimited access is "web only" — a sneaky way of saying P2P/torrent services aren't supported. While there's no contract, you'll pay an additional $99 if you cancel in the first six months.

Australis

Australis (formerly Locall) explicitly reserves the right to block torrent traffic, which will make it a less appealing option for some customers.

ClubTelco

ClubTelco pricing varies depending on whether you have access to its own exchange equipment (Local), are on a wholesale Telstra line in a city (Metro) or a wholesale Telstra line in country areas (Regional). There's no contract and no block on torrents. The site boasts "no setup fee", but there's a $50 annual membership fee which effectively serves the same role.

Dodo

Dodo's plan is extremely cheap, and it offers one of the few naked DSL options (where you don't pay line rental). Some cautions are advised: torrent connections can be shaped (though not blocked), and Dodo's service reputation is often questioned.

iPrimus

iPrimus' naked option is a reasonable deal, but some of its rivals include voice calls for a similar price. Its setup fees are some of the highest listed here.

iSage

An identical product to AuNix, so see the comments for that provider above.

Pennytel

This is easily the cheapest option on offer; $29 a month is the lowest price we've seen for standalone ADSL2. If you're in a serviced area (Pennytel uses AAPT), it could be worth considering.

TPG

TPG's standalone unlimited option is $59.99, which presumes you already have a line connected; for an additional $10, you can get the naked DSL or phone line included option and add in calls as well. Given that line rental will almost always cost you more than $10, the $59.99 plan doesn't make much sense, but it's the one that fits our criteria here. You can only access the service if TPG has equipment in your local exchange.

If you're an in NBN region, AusBBS seems the obvious choice. Outside that, Dodo, TPG and iPrimus stand out, and experience suggests TPG dominates. Pennytel's low pricing is an interesting switch; we'd love to hear from current users about how well it works in practice.

Know of a plan we haven't included? Wish there were more choices out there for unlimited broadband plans? Tell us in the comments.

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


Comments

    You missed out on PennyTel - http://pennybroadband.pennytel.com/

    They also do NBN on request, but at the moment they're focusing on ADSL2+. (NBN plans are: 25/5Mbps – $2 per day; 25/10Mbps $2.50 per day, 50/20Mbps – $3 per day; Whirlpool link here: http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=1996446)

      Thanks for the pointer; have added the ADSL2 plans but need to investigate the NBN a little further.

      I would seriously worry about doing business with Pennytel

      http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/2120208

    Hi
    Good start but some plans are off the price.
    Unlimited TPG prices are incorrect.
    Tpg also offer included calls and or mobile.
    Most of the others have unique features not detailed in the simple chart.

    D

      For TPG, I planned to liste the nothing-else-included price (as with others). Production error, fixing now.

    I think you missed on TPG.
    TPG have unlimited plan + phone line for 59.99. The 69.99 include calls on top of the 59.99 plan.

    Logitel $49.95 using either Telstra or Optus lines. Great for those of us in rural areas. Everybody else I know is paying ridiculously high Telstra prices for ridiculously small data allowances. I'm in Roma, western Queensland.

    I've been on iPrimus Unlimited for a long while, and have been very happy with it.

    I think a major factor to consider is Customer Satisfaction both in terms of perceived/actual service quality and also in terms of customer service and how long issues take to be resolved. I used to have a 500GB TPG plan and during the first couple of years with them, I had no problem at all.. towards the end of my tenure with them, the quality of the service degraded more and more..

    I've since switched to iiNet, on a 200GB plan, which costs roughly the same (from memory).. but the quality of service is miles ahead of what I was experiencing with TPG.. add to that the exemplary customer service by comparison to TPGs and it's actually a much better deal in practical terms.

    I'm not saying you left out iiNet.. I'm saying that there are crucial parts of the equation that need to be considered... just like with Mobile Broadband... you might be able to get a really cheap Vodafone service with lots of data.... but is the quality and consistency there?

      The points you've raised are definitely valid, but probably need to be discussed separately. The comparison here is on largely empirical data, whereas the customer service experience can be highly subjective.

      Personally, I'd suggest both look at the planhacker write-up and the commentary for last years Lifehacker Awards for Broadband ISPs :
      http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2012/11/lifehacker-awards-2012-nominate-your-favourite-broadband-isp/
      http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2012/12/2012-lifehacker-awards-best-broadband-isp/

      Also, maybe the planhacker on ISP support: http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2013/02/planhacker-phone-company-isp-support-options/

      Last edited 12/07/13 3:19 pm

    I can recommend ClubTelco quite highly. Signed up with them last November and touch wood haven't had any issues. The initial phone call to set it up was a little painful due to the strong accent of their call center staff but if you go in expecting that you won't be disappointed. They also don't hit you with fees for payment methods. I normally pay via BPay but they allow just about any other form of payment I could see people wanting to use.

    For TPG, it is $59.99 for unlimited ADSL 2+ and home phone. Don't need to pay $10, unless you want a call package included.

      TPG's $59.99 does NOT include home phone. Check out http://www.tpg.com.au/forms/Critical%20Information%20Summary_ADSL2+.pdf and specifically this part:

      Service Description
      TPG ADSL2+ services are a standalone fixed broadband service that delivers high speed Internet
      access nationwide, via TPG’s own DSLAM network infrastructure. Supply of the Service requires an
      active and compatible telephone service.

      Having an active and compatible telephone service means having a working phone line, not just a piece of copper.

        Incorrect. TPG have a $59.99plan which includes line rental and home phone service (and even a 6-month contract option):
        http://www.tpg.com.au/products_services/home-phone-bundle

        Not to be confused with their $59.99 plan which *doesn't*.
        http://www.tpg.com.au/products_services/adsl2-standalone

        The $69.99 plan Lifehacker are referring to includes unlimited calls. If you don't need them, there's literally no reason to get the naked option -- as SGD says, take the $59.99 home phone bundle and just don't use it.

        Last edited 12/07/13 4:27 pm

          Yeah I agree. I have The 59.99 bundle at home. But don't use the phone. So add good as naked. On my investment property I have the 49.99 package and three students have never hit the limit. Again no landline required.

    Is the TPG one the only one that's available "naked" (in quotes because it's not true naked)?

    Please for the love of god stop using web excel for data that could easily be represented in a HTML table.. We know you are totally in love with Microsoft, and probably make a substantial sum of your revenue from them.. but still. No reason to needlessly hawk their products in such counter intuitive ways..

      Agreed. I couldn't view it in Chrome - had to use IE.

    Also include EXETEL OPU-75 $75/month + $100 setup fee, no contract
    Price INCLUDES Line Rental - Others you have to factor in the cost of line rental as well if it's not included or Naked.

    Fair Use policy applies, they can be quite stringent with this at times.

    http://exetel.com.au/a_plan_pricing_adsl2_new.php

    As a completely separate deal from above, They also offer a $25 Line Rental option which can be used in conjuction with ANY provider that doesn't force bundling of Line Rental with them.
    http://exetel.com.au/v_national_call_rates.php#wa_coverage
    This is compared with Telstra's HomeLine Budget $22.95 where Telstra can boot you off this plan when not using Bigpond or a Resold Telstra port.

      Wow that is too much. See comments re tpg above. No landline cost to factor in! Unless you are put of their areas :(

    We switched from Optus cable internet to Pennytel ADSL in Dec 2012 and have been very happy with the service, speed, quality and price.

    A staggeringly uneducated article.

    1. The key and core difference is the quality of bandwidth and the contention ratio. The first dictates what happens to your traffic on your ISPs network and second is the number of users to mbps of bandwidth supplied on the backhaul

    2. Secondly there are only 6 major back haul providers in the country and only around 6 major ISPs with their own DSLAM and fibre networks. These tend to be the same companies and wholesale their services out. Even though Australia has several hundred ISPs your essentially either getting your service from one of the four majors, i.e. AAPT Wholesale (don't get it confused with AAPT Retail who was sold to iiNet), Telstra, Optus Wholesale and TPG (who don't wholesale).

    The ISPs referred to in the article, are for the most part resellers. They buy the trail and the backhaul from one of the above Wholesalers. They're billed for the DSL "tail" (port), and then once the traffic from your local exchange is routed back to the exchange it is then terminated into one of the following: Your ISP's servers (i.e. email server, transparent proxies, interception systems, LNS), peering links with say Akamai, International backhaul (really depends on what your viewing right), interstate backhaul (some ISPs just have their server room in another state meaning that all traffic has to route to that state).

    That backhaul costs money. Back in 2005 it cost $1600 per mbps. In 2011 it was around $200 for a small ISP and $40-90 per mbps for a big one.

    Now people remember your buying a $69.95 24/1mbps ADSL2+ service. That RRP doesn't even cover 1mbps of backhaul at the wholesale level let alone the other expenses (rent, employees, friday drinks etc)! This is why ISPs run a contention ratio. Basically your ISP would be screwed if everyone logged on at the sametime. The old industry standard was 10:1 but some of my contacts have said that some ISPs run at 50:1, even 200:1!!! This is why there is so much venom directed at the "leachers" out there. See the stat goes that only something like 1-10% of an entire customer base are responsible for 80% of network utilisation. Hence why the leachers are attacked so heavily with Fair Use policies and such, or worse your service is secretly shaped and interfered with by traffic management systems.

    But it doesn't end there. Lets observe the corporate market. For say $200 you can buy a 2mbps SHDSL service. Now the contention ratio there should be 1:1 (or around that point). Makes sense right. However the second variable is the Quality of Service (Qos).

    The QoS dictates the priority your traffic is given on the network. Voice traffic, time sensitive needs a good QoS to avoid packet loss and latency. These things can cause jitter, drop outs and other problems. The corporate 2mbps SHDSL service is used to say connect to interstate offices together on the PABX, 30 channels of 64kbps voice traffic. Usually the QoS is set at VBR, Variable Bit Rate, on the wholesale providers ATM network (this means on the VC that the traffic is carried that if it runs out of 2mbps of bandwidth instead of causing packet loss the bandwidth is variable i.e. it can burst above its nominal limit of 2mbps.

    You on the other hand pay $69 for your supposed 24/1 mbps ADSL2+ service. Clearly there is no way you're receiving the same quality of service as someone who is paying $200 for just 2mbps of bandwidth.

    So lets imagine what happens to your traffic in the event the virtual circuit that is carrying it say from Penrith to Sydney (Haymarket or Margaret megapops) and say some corporate with a VBR service needs to burst, well the wholesaler basically steals the bandwidth in the VC that your traffic is in and assigns it to the corporate. See your on a UBR service, Unspecified Bit Rate which is only meant for very time tolerant applications.

    Lastly Mobile traffic is even worse. There are some very cheap providers out there selling products that are so badly congested and oversubscribed that it makes the worst fixed line broadband provider look like an angel. See in the wholesale world its all about ensuring that billion dollar fibre network you installed is not under-capitalised (i.e. under used) or else you overbuilt and wasted your investors money right? So the wholesales sell the bits and pieces of their under utilised networks at cheap prices only to take that capacity when their premium paying customers need it.

    Secondly that said pricing for peering to major providers like Akamai is nothing. All of those Microsoft, Apple/iTunes, Sony and all the other major corporate downloads you do come out of the Akamai peering link your ISP has. This is basically a 20m cable between your ISP and Akamai, running at 10gbps and costing about $5k a month. That's write if you say downloaded 100gb from Sony and Apple that cost your Telco about a fraction of a cent per mb of traffic and yet they charge you an arm and leg for it, or worse if you have an excess usage charges possibly thousands. One high excess usage charge for one customer is enough to pay the cost of a service that possibly millions of people use.

    This is where the outragous amounts of money are made in the internet world and why as a former boss said to me once its telco is all about making money out of thin air.

    but come on LifeHacker. One moment you doing some Telco Bashing with some unfounded and badly researched material on global roaming and then next moment your doing a puff piece. If you want to do a good beat up why don't you track down people who'd be in the know (linkedin is a good place to start, especially with those who are no longer in telco but were in pricing and and thus no longer under a NDA). i wish you guys would start writing about true reform that is required in the Telco market, like forcing ISPs to advertise their contention ratio and Quality of Service values. Then we'd realise that the NBN didn't go far enough and that it should be covering backhaul as well as the last mile..

    I'm with Dodo on the unlimited plan. I've had no major issues. My torrent's have never been shaped (from what I've noticed), neither have Steam downloads. In regards to customer service, you could say they were too helpful. The call center is obviously outsourced to Asia but they always understand what my issue is and regularly call back to advise me of their progress. I'm also on their MagicSim unlimited mobile plan which I've had similar results.

    Im with AusBBS on their unlimited NBN 100/40 plan. They have been great to deal with and have always had someone great on the phone if I have had a problem.

    My only issue I have with them is their website and data tracking service. The website functionality is pretty bad and needs to be looked at. UI is shocking and what is available as a user is pretty limited.

    Other than those little gripes my experience with AusBBS has been excellent. Plus speeds are great!!

    93mb/s DL 37mb/s UL 17 Ping

    Hey - I'm with EveryNet on their Naked Unmetered plan.

    That's hilarious because I am browsing this on my iPhone using standard iPhone browser and I could view everything fine!
    It's just a simple stress free world for us apple users. :-p lol

    You didn't mention Engin. $50 a month plus line rental of $30 a month, if required.

    I think you forgot to mention Activ8me since they're offering unlimited data plan for metro and rural areas. Everything are on a flexible term and no cost in migrating to NBN services once it reaches your area.

    Try to check their site:
    http://www.activ8me.net.au/

    Gday, you missed NBNSP.com.au I have been doing unlimited plans for over a year.

    Hi, firstly, thank you for providing so much info regarding unlimited plans. Just recently I decided to take TPG unlimited plan. The installation was complete within the time frame they said it would be so that was a positive. When I first agreed to the deal my 2 main questions to the sales consultant were 'I understand TPG can not guarantee a maximum speed but what would be the minimum speed I could expect because obviously if I want unlimited download package then that would require a reasonable speed in order to make use of the unlimited deal'. She replied that the minimum I can expect is 0.2 - I then asked if that was guaranteed she replied 'yes, although maximum could not be guaranteed'. I then asked if the wifi could reach every room in my home and explained I had a 2 storey 3 bed home with 2 living rooms. She replied and said that it would definitely reach all rooms. I then proceeded to tell the consultant that I would definitely go ahead with the package if the minimum speed was guaranteed not to go lower than 0.2 and if the wifi could reach all rooms. She again confirmed that i would not have a problem with wifi or speed being lower than the minimum 0.2 stated so I agreed to the deal. I was speaking to her on speaker phone the entire time the other people in my home at the time heard the entire conversation. The problem I now have is that the Internet has been operational since the 19th of May and the speed has been at 0.02 since then moving to 0.04 at the most and I called to discuss this but first sent an email so it was noted in writing. Then they called me and the consultant said the wifi reach was only 20 to 30 feet at most and there was probably a line issue so they would look into it. At that point I told the consultant that I was told the speed would be minimum of 0.2 and wifi reach would cover the entire home and I based my decision to go ahead on the basis of the verbal guarantees that were quoted to me and of course had I been told otherwise at the time I never would have gone ahead because in order to make use of an unlimited service one would require a reasonable no lower than 0.2 otherwise it's impossible at any lower speed to realistically use more than 100 to 150GB per month. My reason for this statement is because at 0.02 it is impossible to download even a music track without the system dropping out because it ends up being idle for so long. So with that said if you realistically can't download a movie or a song at all because the speed is too low and keeps dropping out then how on earth can they justify selling unlimited packages if the system they have is completely limited in what it can deliver. Further more the first and most important factor is that I was told without doubt it would never be lower than 0.2 and wifi would cover entire home and my decision to go ahead was based on the information they gave me which I see now was completely untrue. So I assume I should not be held to a deal that can not deliver and for incorrect information their consultants gave me. Since then I have had to take a day off work because they say it is line problem with Telstra and I had to be home for the tech but no tech came and Telstra say they have no problems with the lines in my area and I have no problem with my telephone line. I have sent 4 emails outlining all of the above to TPG and they have not bothered to call even though I keep asking for a manager to call me with each email I sent. Instead they sent me an email reply saying they would pass it on to their tech team and someone would get back to me and completely avoided answering addressing the issues I stated and also ended their email saying I had to pay my monthly fees regardless and if at any time they find the problem is theirs then they will process a compensation request which will be subject for approval. I guess that's the same as saying even if it's their fault they may not take responsibility. My question to your site is can TPG or any ISP in Australia sell unlimited packages even if they know their speeds are too slow to ever allow the customer to use it? Can they sell packages of any kind if the speed can not get greater than 0.02 and if they told me to expect a minimum of 0.2 and wifi reach throughout my home and I based my decision to go ahead on this very info given to me then surely that is blatantly misleading me into a deal I do not want? What on earth can be done about this not to mention they are not resolving the problem no Telstra tech has been out here and there is no problem with my phone line other than the fact that the speed they offer is useless. What is a person suppose to do surely there must be a law preventing ISP's from selling unlimited services if their speeds are so low that the service becomes a limited service as result??? Please help any advice you can offer would be so greatly appreciated. We are hard working consumers not asking for special services or treatment but rather reasonable services because we can't afford to be ripped off. It's just plain disregard and disrespect from the ISP to the consumer. Thank you for your consideration and prompt reply

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