Planhacker: NBN Price Roundup March 2012

Telstra launching its plans means that there are now five companies vying for your custom if you're in an area where the NBN is available. Planhacker covers off all the plans on offer.

We're updating this Planhacker listing fairly regularly to reflect the rapidly evolving market; Telstra's appearance is a major development that has driven this current update. Its emphasis is on bundles which also include other services such as calls, which is the same approach taken by Optus.

Right now, that you can still only get the NBN in pilot locations. We've rounded up the expected rollout schedule for this year, and as the service expands, there should be even more providers (I know of at least one planning to announce its pricing before the end of March).

ISPs offering NBN services have to choose from a set of standard speed combinations, but beyond that they are free to set whatever policies they like in terms of download limits, shaping policy, peak and off-peak availability, contract length and other terms.

In the table below, we've listed the options available from Exetel, iiNet, Internode and Optus, the four ISPs that have released general market pricing for consumers. We've included monthly fees; speeds; downloads limits (peak, off-peak and total); setup fees; contract lengths; minimum cost over the length of the contract; what speed your connection gets shaped to if you exceed those monthly limits, and whether those limits include uploads as well as downloads. Note that the setup fee generally doesn't include an NBN-ready modem (you'll have a range of these to choose from, depending on the provider, and some will make them free depending on the length of the contract).

While there are a large number of plans, you can sort and filter the table by clicking on the column headers, so that you can (for instance) only see plans running at 100/40, or sort in order of total download limits or prices.

A few important notes: iiNet's plans include matching peak (8am-2am) and off-peak (2am-8am) components, while Optus' also have variable amounts of peak (12pm-12am) and off-peak (12am-12pm)options. We've listed each separately, but recommend careful consideration before taking up a plan . (Yes, you can schedule downloads to take advantage of off-peak, but it's better to have connectivity you can use when it suits you.) iiNet is the only provider with a public satellite plan right now, for those areas where satellite NBN will be the only option.

Optus customers adjust speeds by adding speed packs to their basic plans ($10 a month for 50/20, $20 a month for 100/40), which we've reflected in the table. Note that the $39.99 plan is only available if you have an Optus mobile; other plans may have discounts if you're already an Optus customer. Optus' $64.94, $109 and $129 plans (at 25/1 speed) also include phone service, so be cautious in directly comparing them to other options.

Telstra also includes varying amounts phone credit with its bundled plans (those which end in even dollar amounts), but doesn't offer the full range of speed choices. The phone offers vary with each plan, so check carefully (only the $150 deal includes unlimited calls to Australian landline and mobile numbers). Non-bundled plans have a high installation fee.

Exetel is the only provider which doesn't count uploads and has the most generous shaping speed, but it also has the smallest overall download limits and has cut back significantly on the range of plans it offers. That makes most of its plans cheaper, but doesn't give you a lot of scope for large downloads (50GB and 100GB being the main choices on virtually all plans).

Internode is the only no-contract option currently available. Its shaping speed is low, but you can pay extra for higher shaping speeds or additional data bundles, and it has the highest download limits overall. Optus' offer of free installation is handy and we like that it doesn't have contracts, though there's no guarantee that will remain the case in the future.

For full details of each plan direct from the provider, hit the links below:

One final point: every time we write about the NBN, some commenters will point out that they can get a bigger download limit from their existing provider for less money right now and argue they don't want to change. Speed considerations aside, It's worth remembering that not everyone is blessed with the same choices you are, and that no-one is being forced yet to switch to the NBN in areas where there are a large range of providers. By the time it hits your area, the pricing will certainly be different.

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


Comments

    You know what, this is the best written non biased story I have seen yet. Nice work.

    ima gonna say exetel are the go

    no upload count, shaped 512k (not the greatest), but 300gb @ 100mbps, very nice. now all i need is some nbn BEFORE the coalition cripples it

    You might want to update Exetels shaping speed. I just looked at their website and they state.

    * Once allowance is reached speed slows to 1024/384kbps until your next billing cycle starts.

    It looks like it applies to all plans so another +1 to them.

    So pumped for the Telstra plans. Not that great, but we're already on the biggest plan so it'll just be jumping from 4mbps ADSL2+ to 100mbps fibre for zero extra outlay :)

    Shaping speeds of '1024/384kbps' - thats better than what I can get on my congested ADSL1 for which which I pay $129 per month!

    Unfortunately, the nearest NBN site is a 150+ kms from me, so don't expect to ever see the NBN thanks to the luddites in the Liberal party.

    Now I just need someone to explain to me why we still have data caps. When I know for a fact that NBN co is only charging for speed not data.

    That said, I am happy to have a data cap for international data, (which I will grant is a lot) I would like a commitment from the countries ISP's that they will stop with this silly data cap nonsense and get back to something like the PIPE system.

    Even better yet, how I and a friend of mine can both be deducted data allowance when transmitting files to each other, and we're on the same ISP!

    So it's clear that these comapnies have a new technology and are applying the same old business models on them. Why are we limiting upload speeds still? It's a different technology now..... why are we still charging for uploads? Why are we charging for data usage?

    It's the same crap, from the same companies, slowing down the progress of the entire technology..

    Can someone help me understand, will i have access to all companies when nbn reaches my house or is it like ADSL where companies buy exchange space to put there own cards or they buy Telstra card space.

    The Fibre roll-out is really a waste. Providing faster internet to people that already have access to internet whereas people like me who live in a regional area only 15mins out of town have to put up with much slower satellite. Its terrible.

      Thats one of the benefits of living in a metro area is that you usually get access to everything first. Living away from metro areas was your choice and you make a saving living wise to do so at the same time it also means you're last to get any advancement in tech, It also comes down to cost effectiveness. Much quicker to recoup costs in a dense metro area than waste time setting it up for a few ppl in a regional area.

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