There was a time when unlimited broadband plans proliferated, but these days your choices if you want a truly unlimited connection are relatively limited. Planhacker rounds up what's still on offer for NBN and ADSL2 customers.
Overflow picture from Shutterstock
Since we last looked at the unlimited broadband sector almost a year ago, there have been two notable trends. Firstly, the number of plans on offer has continued to shrink somewhat. Secondly, we have seen the emergence of the first unlimited NBN plan, from AusBBS. (TPG announced plans for unlimited NBN in September last year but never followed through on them.)
As we've explained before, the economics of how Australian providers pay for the internet connections which are onsold to customers mean that unlimited download plans are relatively rare in the Australian market. If you use massively more than every other customer on your plan, your provider may decide to invoke an acceptable usage policy. (Agreeing to this policy will be part of the process of signing up, so your ability to complain on this point will be limited.) Some also have more specific restrictions, such as blocking torrent traffic or charging more in regional areas. We've noted specific details for each provider under the table.
Note that we're only including NBN and ADSL2 plans here. In some Planhacker pre-2012 roundups where we looked at unlimited broadband, we have included slower ADSL1 plans as well. However, the reader consensus opinion is that these don't deserve consideration: the speeds are too slow to be useful for most purposes, and the options are often no faster than the shaping options available on ADSL2+ plans with a download limit. The theoretical maximum for ADSL2+ is 20Mbps, though in practice it's often much lower.
In the table below, we've listed the ADSL2+ and NBN unlimited plans for home users currently available. For each, we've included 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 usually 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, since many people will source their own routers. We've focused on plans available outright without needing a separate mobile phone plan, since there's a definite move against landline plans in the market. That won't always represent the best value; you need to weigh up whether you'd also like to pay for phone services (and landline rental).
You can sort and filter data in the table below by clicking on the column headers (so you can only look at sort in order of total price, for instance).
Here are the specific details and quirks for each provider.
As the sole NBN offering in this list, the main differentiator for AusBBS' offerings is speed; we've listed the available options in the table. Note that there's no option to add a phone line to your NBN connection on this plan, though AusBBS says that will happen in the future.
The major disadvantage of the AuNix offer is that the unlimited access is "web only" — a sneaky way of saying P2P/torrent services aren't supported. While there's no contract, you'll pay an additional $99 if you cancel in the first six months.
Australis (formerly Locall) explicitly reserves the right to block torrent traffic, which will make it a less appealing option for some customers.
ClubTelco pricing varies depending on whether you have access to its own exchange equipment (Local), are on a wholesale Telstra line in a city (Metro) or a wholesale Telstra line in country areas (Regional). There's no contract and no block on torrents. The site boasts "no setup fee", but there's a $50 annual membership fee which effectively serves the same role.
Dodo's plan is extremely cheap, and it offers one of the few naked DSL options (where you don't pay line rental). Some cautions are advised: torrent connections can be shaped (though not blocked), and Dodo's service reputation is often questioned.
iPrimus' naked option is a reasonable deal, but some of its rivals include voice calls for a similar price. Its setup fees are some of the highest listed here.
An identical product to AuNix, so see the comments for that provider above.
This is easily the cheapest option on offer; $29 a month is the lowest price we've seen for standalone ADSL2. If you're in a serviced area (Pennytel uses AAPT), it could be worth considering.
TPG's standalone unlimited option is $59.99, which presumes you already have a line connected; for an additional $10, you can get the naked DSL or phone line included option and add in calls as well. Given that line rental will almost always cost you more than $10, the $59.99 plan doesn't make much sense, but it's the one that fits our criteria here. You can only access the service if TPG has equipment in your local exchange.
If you're an in NBN region, AusBBS seems the obvious choice. Outside that, Dodo, TPG and iPrimus stand out, and experience suggests TPG dominates. Pennytel's low pricing is an interesting switch; we'd love to hear from current users about how well it works in practice.
Know of a plan we haven't included? Wish there were more choices out there for unlimited broadband plans? Tell us in the comments.
Lifehacker's weekly Planhacker column rounds up the best communication deals.