Planhacker: The Five Big Restrictions With Jiva

Earlier today, iiNet announced plans to offer a spin-off brand, Jiva, which will offer just one product: a $79 a month plan that includes unlimited ADSL2 broadband and free landline calls. That sounds like an appealing deal, but there are some limitations to be aware of.

The official iiNet line is that Jiva is as much about simplicity as it is about saving money: it's a single plan designed to appeal to people who don't want to mess around with extra options (whether that's quotas or Fetch TV or email services). In practice, charging $79 a month for an unlimited service means Jiva will be compared with the other ISPs who offer those kinds of services.

Arguably the most prominent of those is TPG, if only because of its relentless outdoor advertising. When we rounded up the available options in a Planhacker table last month, we identified nine different players offering some form of unlimited broadband. So it's a competitive space.

The first point is that 'unlimited' is never entirely unlimited; every single ISP with this kind of service will have an acceptable usage policy, which gives it the right to cut off anyone who goes massively over the odds. But that's a rule that applies to everyone in this space. What about Jiva itself? While we don't have full details of the Jiva offering, what we do know suggests five areas where caution is advised.

It will only be on offer through exchanges with iiNet equipment. This isn't surprising; it's almost impossible to make an unlimited ADSL2+ plan work if you're paying wholesale rates to someone else (TPG has the same restriction on its plans). But it does mean Jiva won't have a truly national footprint at launch, if ever.

The support won't be the same as iiNet. iiNet's own support team is very well-regarded. The staff working at Jiva have been drawn for that team, but Jiva is being run as a separate outfit, with a greater emphasis on self-service; you may not see such iiNet niceties as a promise to call you back within a fixed period, or round-the-clock support.

You have to use the supplied equipment Part of the reduced support package is the idea that you'll use the standard supplied modem/router. That won't concern a great many people, but if you want a more complicated networking setup at home, Jiva is not going to be for you.

The phone offering doesn't include calls to mobiles. Jiva offers unlimited calls to Australian landlines, but not to Australian mobiles; for that, you'll pay an (as yet unspecified rate). This is true of the majority of competing plans (some unlimited broadband deals, especially the cheaper ones, don't offer calls at all), but it's worth pointing out that TPG's similarly-priced unlimited deal does include calls to mobiles. This is worth thinking about: how often do you actually ring a landline? I'd definitely want to see those rates before signing up. Bottom line: if you ever actually use the landline component, the odds are good you'll pay more than $79.

You have to sign a 24-month contract. Again, this is far from uncommon — Telstra, Optus, TPG and every other major player (including iiNet under its own name) tends to push 24-month contracts. But we're not fans; you're locked in to a provider for a very long period of time, and in the current competitive and rapidly-changing market, that's not always worth the saving. Another key point: as far as we can tell, you won't be able to transfer from an existing iiNet contract to a Jiva contract until the iiNet contract expires.

None of these issues mean Jiva is necessarily a bad deal. If you already have a unlimited deal on your mobile, you probably won't be fussed about the phone component, for instance. They simply remind us that when you're signing up for an ISP, you need to be very careful of the fine print — especially if you're tying yourself to a 24-month contract. We wait with interest for further details in September, but we're not sure that this is going to be the ultimate choice for every single person who is sick of end-of-month shaping.


Comments

    I guess I have to ask.. when it says you need to use their supplied equipment does that mean that their gear has a special heartbeat or something that detects their gear or if you know what you're doing can you just use your own gear however they won't give you support over the phone for it.

    Another things is if you sign up for a 24 month contract is it transferable to another premises. As I rent 24 months isn't exactly feasible. Rent leases only last for 12 months and you may not be there for another 12 months if your rent expires and the landlord doesn't want you there any more.

      I'd guess that you don't actually have to *use* their supplied gear, but you do have to *buy* their supplied gear. I'd imagine that signing up to the plan involves a modem/router purchase, but I wouldn't have thought that they could force you to use that for access.

        No -- but good luck getting support for a non-supported piece of hardware (which would, I imagine, be trivial to detect). You never want to give your ISP an excuse to say "equipment fault, not our issue" -- they're happy enough to do that even when they supply the hardware.

          Its always kind of funny because those with the technical skill can mostly sort out problems that don't require talking to the ISP helpdesk. And if need be its easy enough to set up the device they give you to troubleshoot the problem with them if they request because normally by that stage you've ruled out any errors on your part.

          However I do remember in times go buy you needed special equipment to use the internet with Telstra.. ie the heart beat signal.. till someone developed a linux version and you could then use your own equipment.

          I'm more interested in the portability though from one place to another.

            I would like to point out that working for Help Desk with a current ISP , you will be surprised on how many people with technical skill call up and say the issue is with the wholesale provider (or my ISP) when the issue was them using the wrong VCI and VPI when setting up the modem -_-
            Just wanted to make that point.

      Hi there, I'm Ryan and work for Jiva.

      Jiva will only support the Jiva modem. The first thing our support staff will ask anyone to do if they require assistance is to plug their Jiva Modem in and see if that fixes the issue. If you have another modem then it's outside the scope of what will be supported.

      We're offering a simple broadband and phone package for $79. We've removed the bells and whistles to make it easier for our customers to get the most out of the service.

      With regards to authentication. Users won't need to put a username and password into the modem as we're doing authentication at the port. This is very much a plug and play service.

      Last edited 20/08/13 12:26 pm

    TPG unlimited - all I need. Was on Internode for over 7-8 years when there was flatrate. Since going with TPG, I have no dropouts (I had the longest ticket at the time on Internode), no speed problems (infact synced 100Kbps faster)...its just better. No way would I ever go iinet/internode.

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