What To Check When Considering Naked DSL

What To Check When Considering Naked DSL

Naked DSL — a broadband connection via a phone line but without paying a line rental fee for the associated voice service — is an increasingly popular strategy for saving money on communications costs. Going naked can help cut down your monthly bills, but before taking the plunge there are some key issues you’ll need to consider.Naked services only appeared in Australia in late 2007, but the range of options has increased dramatically, since then as our roundup of naked DSL providers earlier this week demonstrated. In response to that post, several readers wrote in asking for further advice on how to go about getting a naked service connected, so we’ve rounded up some general guidelines for what to look at before going naked.

Work out how much you use your phone

The evidence suggests that Australians are increasingly relying on mobile phones, so it might seem obvious that you can get by without one plugged into the wall as well. But it is worth pulling out your last few phone bills and working out how many calls you actually make, and where those calls go. Even if you do decide to go naked, those numbers will help you work out how much you can expect to spend on calls in the future (either on your mobile or via a VoIP service).

Also analyse who is calling you. It’s still not uncommon for people to object to calling a mobile phone on the principle that it will cost them more. If your parents are in the habit of ringing your home line every day, they might crack it when the line is no longer there. (Of course, in that case you could ask them to pay the line rental instead.)

One commonly voiced concern about going naked (with or without VoIP) is that you won’t be able to just dial 000 in an emergency and have your location traced. That might sound scary, but when did you last call 000 anyway — and how likely is it that you’d be calling from home and not able to tell the dispatchers your address?

Check what the VoIP inclusions are

In practice, that distinction won’t matter much, because many of the naked packages on offer aren’t truly “naked” — they also include a VoIP service which can act as a “replacement” for your landline. If you really don’t use your landline phone, this might not be necessary. VoIP rates are generally much cheaper than conventional landlines — rates of 10 to 15 cents for untimed Australian landline calls are pretty much the norm. Check to see if your chosen plan will give you a regular landline number (which eliminates the incoming call issue discussed above), and if they’ll let you migrate your existing number. If most of your incoming calls come from another state, it might be worth getting your number “assigned” to that area code rather than where you live.

Research the provider

There are a dozen or more companies offering naked DSL in Australia. It doesn’t make sense to sign up with any of them without knowing what you’re getting into. Looking at the costs and contract lengths will help you narrow the field, but after that it makes sense to do some specific research. Here’s three useful tactics:

Be prepared to wait a while

By far the biggest downside of naked DSL is that the connection process is convoluted. You can expect to wait for a week or more for the service to get connected, and during that period you may not have any phone or Internet service at all. (Annoyingly, that can be the case even if you already have a standard account with that provider.) This isn’t the fault of your supplier, by the way — the paperwork and processes required to get your regular landline “disabled” are just hopelessly arcane and unlikely to improve in the short term. The obvious tactic is to organise connection while you’re on holidays.

Lifehacker’s weekly Loaded column looks at better ways to manage (and stop worrying about) your money.


  • One other point to consider (having researched this yesterday) is the need for a landline in cases where you have a back-to-base burglar alarm installed.

    These alarms are typically connected in what is known as “Mode 3”, in which the alarm has priority (eg, reporting a duress, burglary or medical alarm). Naked DSL cannot provide this capability – or perhaps the ISPs haven’t had time to (or don’t want to) research a solution.

  • Important issue to consider:
    Your line will have no carrier tone (dialtone). this means when cowbow telstra tecs are searching for a line to conect someone else in your suburb to, they will think your line is dead due to no dialtone, unplug you, and plug them in.
    result = no identernet for two weeks while telstra fault checks to find that one of their contractors didn’t care enough to check the records of your line.

    Seriously, they need to have a carrier tone on nakedDSL lines to prevent this from happening. I know multiple people who this has happened to.

  • I know exactly who calls me on my landline without picking it up- telemarketeers. That’s why I never answer my phone before 9pm- my family knows better than to call me up then too.

  • The biggest problem is the lack of availability. Telstra have approx 1400 exchanges equipped for ADSL. Optus, one of the biiger Naked DSL wholesalers & providers, has around 180 exchanges set up for Naked DSL. But even if you are fortunate enough to be connected to an exchange that supports Naked DSL, you still have to be close enough to get it. The hype doesn’t match reality.

  • uhh I think you’re forgetting a major major point.

    Most naked DSL providers count uploads towards your total bandwitdh usage.

    So if you’re downloading a 20MB torrent file and leave your computer running overnight… the total badwitdh sucked up by the next morning could be like 2GB instead.

    How could you have left this out?? haha.

  • That’s true of some plans (Optus and iiNet being the obvious ones), but I’m not sure it stands as a general statement. And to compensate for the upload factor, some providers (e.g. iiNet) have higher caps.

  • I’m a happy iiNet naked DSL customer and Gman is correct that uploads are counted towards your quota. I wasn’t aware of this when I signed up, but it hasn’t proved to be a problem for me as the quotas are pretty generous. I’m on a 40GB (peak) 60GB (off-peak) plan which includes unlimited free calls to any landlines in Australia. I was previously happy with Internode but their ADSL 2+ exchange upgrade has been “planned” for 18 months now with no status change so it was well past time to switch.

  • Whilst it would be nice for every exchange in Australia to be enabled for Naked DSL, there are definitely a lot more than 180 Naked DSL exchanges! iinet has over 330 exchanges and Optus more than 350 exchanges (which are also sold through Internode and others). TPG has a few extra exchanges that the others don’t have, although most of TPG’s regional DSLAMS don’t support Naked DSL yet. Presumably the backhaul is too expensive.

  • I have been on naked DSL for four days now and, guess, my landline is still active. I don’t know whether I should phone Telstra or my previous provider IINet to disconnect me.

  • Guys. I have rang about a dozen companies and on telstra will service the house i just moved into.
    Any ideas? I’m not real keen on going with telstra. They’re too expensive

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