Planhacker: Naked DSL Plans 2011

"Going naked" sadly isn't as raunchy as it sounds: it means getting an Internet broadband connection without an associated phone line, saving you the cost of line rental. But which providers offer naked plans, and what issues do you need to consider? Find the right deal for you with our up-to-date roundup of available naked DSL options in Australia.

Picture by Revolution Cycle

We've covered naked DSL in the Planhacker column before, but recent changes make it ripe for an update) . The market for naked services is competitive, but they won't necessarily suit everyone and the number of options has reduced somewhat since the last update. Changes include Internode's simplification of its plan options; the withdrawal of all naked plans by Exetel and GoTalk, and some from Optus; and increased download allowances from MyNetFone and Primus.

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 across the country and the popularity of Internet-based calling software such as Skype. 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. We'll cover VOIP deals separately in a future Planhacker column.)

No matter who you choose to provide a naked DSL service, one major 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. This is a nuisance, but it's pretty much unavoidable. You can schedule the switch for holidays, though if everything doesn't go to plan you may suffer further delays once you return.

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. An increasing number of naked providers count both downloads and uploads in your total; we've noted this where relevant.

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.

Here's all the details; you can also access this as a PDF.

Which plan you choose is likely to be dictated by the amount you intend to spend and whether you're a total media junkie. Assuming it's actually available in your area, the TPG Unlimited plan is still 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. Given how quickly plans evolve, long-term contracts might be best avoided.

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

Want to share your own naked DSL experience? Tell us about it in the comments.

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


Comments

    Angus,

    Can you please add a filter to the Monthly Cost, Peak and Off Peak columns such that users can easily check based on price or download limits what other ISPs are providing.

    Cheers

    Dave

    Couldn't find a more attractive "naked" picture than that?

      yeah I was thinking the same thing

    Another inconvenience of naked DSL is losing the ability to send or receive faxes or use back-to-base security services.

    I made the jump from amnet dsl to iinet naked dsl when I moved house recently. I wsas going to stick with amnet until I saw their sign-up method - you had to printout and fill in a form and fax/mail it to them, with the initial response somewhere between one and two weeks.

    I went for iinet, and I'm glad I did - when it turned out the phoneline wasn't connected, they did all the work to get a telstra tech out to me. They kept me updated once every few days as to how it was progressing and what I needed to do. Going by past experience, trying the same with amnet would have been like pullling teeth.

      iinets support leaves most others isps in the dust in my experience.

    Yep, it's true that Exetel don't offer naked to new customers anymore. But their ADSL2 plan including phone line rental at $55/mth with 30GB + 180GB is actually cheaper than some of the plans above.

    I don't think Dodo charge excess for exceeding data allowance; whilst their legal stuff says they will charge 10c/MB extra, this is only up to the plan's maximum monthly cost, which is the cost you have shown above - thus it's not an excess charge.

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