Planhacker: Naked DSL Plans

A Naked DSL broadband plan means you don’t pay extra on phone line rental, and current plans come with some seriously big data allowances. Find the best deal for you with our up-to-date roundup of naked DSL options in Australia.

Picture by lintmachine

We covered naked DSL in a Planhacker column back in July, but there’s been quite a bit of movement in the market since, so we’ve revised that listing here. The shift towards higher download allowances evident in phenomena such as 1TB+ plans has drifted through to the Naked DSL sector. While that’s a welcome shift, it’s also been accompanied with a parallel move towards counting uploads as well as downloads in calculating usage.

Naked DSL will be appealing if you make little or no use of your home phone line for actual calls, which isn’t an uncommon scenario given the massive usage of mobile phones. A naked plan eliminates line rental costs, offering a broadband connection (invariably ADSL2+) without any phone service at all. (Virtually all the providers we’ve featured also offer a voice-over-IP service if you do want to make cheap landline calls, but we haven’t included those in the table below, presuming that you’re just as likely to use your mobile in this instance.)

No matter who you choose to provide a naked DSL service, one inevitable inconvenience is that you’ll have a period of inactivity — anywhere from five days to a month — where there’s no service at all while your old line is decommissioned and the new one set up. Try scheduling a switch for when you’re on holidays, or take advantage of a prepaid 3G broadband to tide you over.

We’ve offered a detailed guide on issues you should consider if you want to get a naked DSL plan, and that’s worth reading before making your decision. Presuming you’re not planning on using the landline at all, your major consideration will be how much data the plan provides and when you can use it.

Many of the plans listed below divide downloads into peak and off-peak usage (the off-peak period varies, but typically runs through the hours when most Australians are asleep, a strategy designed to increase effective network usage. If your main use for downloads is to access torrents, then you can easily schedule downloads to only occur during those hours. Even if a plan says ‘unlimited’ for downloads, there’ll be a fair use provision intended to stop truly excessive usage.

For each provider, we’ve listed how much their monthly plans cost; what peak and off-peak data is available; how much they charge for setup (which tends to vary according to contract length and might be cheaper if you stick with your existing provider); and what they do once you’ve exceeded your quota. Most providers will ‘shape’ your connection, making it slower but leaving it running, but some immediately charge excess fees. Shaping definitely saves you money, but can be frustrating when your connection slows at the end of the month. (Some providers will let you purchase extra full-speed data blocks if this happens.)

In keeping with our focus on saving money, we haven’t included prices for equipment; every provider will sell you a modem/router assuming you don’t already have one. All services listed are ADSL2+. We’ve covered every provider we’re aware of, but not all providers will service everywhere in Australia. As ever, we’d advise against actually choosing Dodo given its appalling reputation for customer service.

Click on the table graphic below for a larger version of the chart, or here to access it in PDF format:

Which plan you choose is likely to be dictated by the amount you plan to spend and whether you’re a total media junkie. Assuming it’s actually available in your area, the TPG Unlimited plan is hard to beat for basic value. Even if you’re a minimal user, we wouldn’t recommend a plan with less than 10GB overall, as OS patches can easily chew through a chunk of that.

If you want to drill into the details of individual plans, check the links below:

Missed your favourite naked DSL plan? Want to share your own naked DSL experience? Tell us in the comments.

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

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