If you're a heavy Internet user, paying a fortune for a high download limit isn't appealing, and neither is having your connection shaped. What you need is a plan with no download caps. We've rounded up all the unlimited broadband deals for Australian Internet users.
Picture by amarilloposters
We've explained in the past why the majority of broadband providers in Australia aren't interested in providing unlimited plans. That remains largely true, but there are a handful of companies that do offer "unlimited" options.
In this context, unlimited means that you can download and upload as much data as you like within a month, without any speed restrictions or extra charges. The terms unlimited and uncapped sometimes get applied to plans that are in fact filled with restrictions or involve shaping, although the ACCC doesn't take too kindly to that sort of behaviour.
In the table below, we've listed all the unlimited plans for home users we're aware of (now including some helpfully recommended by readers below), including their monthly cost and the total minimum cost over the lifetime of a contract. We've also noted any other restrictions, such as requiring users to sign up for a home phone line as well, and factored those costs into the calculation when appropriate. (Note that unlimited plans haven't yet appeared as a naked DSL option, so you will have to pay for a land line one way or the other.)
Plans have to be generally available, so we haven't included Exetel's unlimited offer, which is only offered selectively to existing customers. Unlimited services won't necessarily be available in your area even if that ISP is active in the local market.
Most plans on this list are ADSL2+, except for Netbay which only offers slower ADSL services, and AAPT, which offers both ADSL and ADSL2+ (with the former being more expensive as well as slower). AAPT's unlimited deal includes $50 each month of credit to spend in its online music store. We've indicated the maximum speed for each plan on the table; in practice, your actual speed may well be lower.
Unlimited plans invariably come with a get-out clause in the form of an acceptable usage policy, which essentially dictates that your access can be restricted if you use a ridiculous amount of data or abuse the service (for instance, by using a residential plan as the basis for a business). There can also be other conditions. Dodo, for instance, shapes connections used for BitTorrent on its unlimited plan, which is likely to restrict its usefulness for many people. (As we always seem to end up noting at Planhacker, while we include them for completeness we don't recommend using Dodo anyway.)
Here's the table (click on the image for a larger version; while we normally provide a PDF for Planhacker, that feels like overkill with such a relatively small amount of data.)
Given the rapidly changing nature of the ADSL market, a 12-month plan is probably a sensible choice, which makes TPG the standout in this list (assuming you can get the unlimited option in your area). Netbay's plans have even shorter contracts, but the low speed on offer means that in practice you'd be better off with a high-limit plan that shapes you; the same applies to Comcen and Supernerd.
Other alternatives might also suit you better. Recently, we've seen a number of providers (namely iiNet, iPrimus and TPG) offer plans with a one-terabyte per month limit. That's not unlimited, but it is more than most people are likely to use in a month.
For details of the individual plans, hit the provider web sites:
Know of an unlimited plan we've missed? Had a great or terrible experience with your unlimited deal? Tell us in the comments.
Lifehacker's weekly Planhacker column rounds up the best communication deals.