Planhacker: Unlimited ADSL2+ Broadband Deals

Most Australians only use 6GB of data a month, but if you're in the group who consume 100GB or more, then an "unlimited" broadband plan can be appealing. Here's what's available in the unlimited space on an ADSL2+ connection.Picture by Robert Fornal

We ran a guide to unlimited broadband plans back in April, but I'm updating it now for three reasons. Firstly, the comments on our story earlier this week about Australian broadband habits made it clear that many readers do routinely consume enormous amounts of data every month. Secondly, Dodo started offering unlimited broadband without requiring an attached phone service, which changes the competitive landscape slightly.

Thirdly, I decided that there wasn't much sense in including ADSL1 plans on the "unlimited" list, since the maximum speeds they offer are often the same or slower than what you get shaped to on many existing plans. (If you do want an ADSL1 plan, the April listing will still be useful to you.) If you want unlimited downloads, chances are you also want them as fast as possible.

The relatively limited range of plans on offer reinforces once more that most providers have no interest in offering unlimited plans. As always, we should point out that while the plans we've listed here do meet the basic definition of an unlimited service -- no download limits and no shaping -- nearly all of them have some kind of restrictions attached.

As well as invariably having an acceptable usage policy to allow blocking ridiculously excessive usage, most providers also have other catches, which we discuss below. For starters, these plans are rarely available nationwide; you'll need to check if your area is covered.

The most prominent issue for most people is that some providers actually block torrent traffic. I can't imagine that most people who want an unlimited plan wouldn't want P2P as an option. Remember also that unlimited services won't necessarily be available in your area.

In the table below, we've listed all the unlimited plans for home users we're aware of, including their monthly cost, the standard setup fee (which could be lower if you are moving from an ISP that supports rapid transfer) and the total minimum cost over the lifetime of a contract. (For a 0-month contract, this equates to the setup fee plus one month's access, though many providers charge an additional fee if you quit before 6 or 12 months.) We haven't included equipment charges.

Where plans require you to sign up for a home phone line from the same provider, we've included that cost in the minimum monthly cost; we haven't included discounts offered if you bundle with other services. (Other than iPrimus and TPG, unlimited plans haven't widely appeared as a naked DSL option, so you will likely end up paying for a land line in some form or other.)

All these plans claim a maximum download speed of 20Mbps and uploads of 1Mbps; in practice, you'll often get rather less, depending on line condition, your distance from the exchange and other factor.

Here's the full table; you can click on the column headers to filter down results to specific prices, providers, speeds or other features.

Here's our quick summary of each provider:

AUNIX, ISAGE, LOCALL: The annoying limitation with these providers is that they bar torrent traffic altogether. Our verdict? Don't bother.

ONESENIORS: Unremarkable and overpriced.

DODO: While Dodo no longer requires bundling, it still blocks BitTorrent and has a mixed reputation for customer services.

IPRIMUS, CLUBTELCO: These are the best no-contract options if you don't want a long-term commitment, with ClubTelco the cheapest in that space. The iPrimus offering is one of only two naked DSL plans on offer.

TPG: TPG has a broad and sometimes confusing range of options: you can pay $59.99 for an unlimited plan that includes line rental, $59.99 for an unlimited plan which doesn't include line rental, or $69.99 for a naked unlimited plan. Choosing anything other than the first option doesn't seem like a particularly sensible way to spend your money -- why pay the same amount to get less features? Nonetheless, this seems the best of the bunch in overall value terms. That said, the biggest issue is whether you'll be able to access it; TPG only offers it in selected exchanges.

For details of the individual plans, hit the provider web sites:

Know of an unlimited plan we've missed? Got experience with one of these plans? Tell us in the comments.

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


    I think you mean 20Mbps and 10Mbps. I'd love 20000Mbps and 1000Mps speeds.

      D'oh! Yep, meant 20 and 1. Fixed now, thanks for pointing it out.

    To be fair, even if you hit your TPG limit the throttled speed ain't too bad. Good enough for general web use and video streaming, just not good for big downloads.

    I guess what I'm saying is that at a push even their capped plans are good compared to others where the throttled use is intolerable.

    Should be pointed out most of these deals are for Metro areas. eg. Dodo $39.90 for Metro yet $79.90 for Regional.

      There is a note in the text that availability varies, but yeah, it's worth emphasising!

    - TPG's limited unlimited availability (if you follow me...) is no different to iPrimus or Club Telco, in that all are dependent on availability at your exchange. Club Telco does explicitly mention the fallback to ADSL1 unlimited if ADSL2 is unavailable.
    - ClubTelco also charges a $50 annual fee, so there's an extra cost when you go over 12 months
    - TPG's home phone service has a poor reputation - see Whirlpool forums. That might be a reason to pay more for less "features".

      TPG's availability is different to each of iPrimus and ClubTelco. You will need to check each provider to see what plans are available to you.

      TPG offers unlimited ADSL2+ on selected TPG exchanges only (alongside other plans). Other plans are available on all TPG exchanges.

      iPrimus offers unlimited only on iPrimus exchanges (alongside other plans).

      Both TPG and iPrimus offer different plans on Telstra-only exchanges. ClubTelco is always on Telstra exchanges.

    Be warned that TPG customer service is terrible - as long as they set up everything properly on their end, you shouldn't have to call them. I haven't had VOIP working with them for six months!

    I guess the keyword here was unlimited yet for the same price I use locall with a 100GB allowance and torrents are allowed

    I get 200GB peak and 200GB offpeak on iinet, and it might as well be unlimited - I never ever reach it. Torrents are allowed, and customer service is fantastic. And they're a good, responsible, intelligent company I feel good about supporting.

    Now just need to find a provider in Alice Springs that has only a six month lock in. Chances of it are less than naught :*(

    TPG home phone service is ULL hence you would be cutoff for about 2-4 weeks and will have to wait this long for the line to be setup. Not worth it for the people who need internet/phoneline 24/7

    What will happen to all these companys when the NBN is rolled out? do they become resellers for the nbn? or are they doomed?

    The reason people want unlimited internet is because they don't want to worry about being slowed down, or excess charges (the latter in the case of ISPs like Dodo). What most people are unaware of is how big a GB is, not to mention their personal usage levels. The average Australian now uses less than 19GB a month (Roy Morgan Research), so the concept of "unlimited broadband" as being of necessity is a fallacious one. There are a large number of broadband plans on the market with 100GB, 200GB, 400GB, 500GB, 700GB, or even 1-terabyte data limits. Any of these plans will be more than enough for everyday Australians, even if they do download large files or stream internet TV on a regular basis. There is also one important omission to this list. TPG has an ADSL1 8Mbps Unlimited plan for $69.99 a month, which is very relevant here, as a large amount of people in Australia are only able to get an ADSL1 connection. This latter plan is on the fastest ADSL1 speed possible, and offers as much data as you need if you are worried about data limits. An 8,000kbps speed on ADSL1 is very similar to an ADSL2+ speed, especially if you live a distance away from your local phone exchange.

    I'm looking at Clubtelco unlimited. But how does it work if I don't have an active phone line? What would be the cheapest option?

      Terrible experience with telco blue. Absolutely disgraceful customer service. Say they call you back but they don't. Kept me on hold three times for one hour

    What about Spintel? How does it compare for regional?

    Although why the Gold Coast is still classified as regional is a mystery.

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