For as much as we all want a stable, blazing-fast internet connection at home, for a lot of people, fixed connections are just not working out. If this sounds painfully familiar, it might be time to consider mobile broadband.
NBN CEO Bill Morrow said this week that about 15 per cent of NBN users are unhappy with their new service, with many citing speed and performance as a key issue. The other half of Australia not connected to the NBN still struggle with sub-par ADSL2+ connections.
It's little wonder that we're seeing a surge in interested in mobile broadband through the searches for internet plans on our site. Looking at the first six months of this year, mobile internet searches are up about 45%.
So let's take a look at the plans available, starting with SIM Only options, then tablet plans, and lastly mobile broadband options that could work as an alternative to a fixed connection.
Top 10 SIM Only (most data first)
As you can see, a lot of providers offer basically the same thing, for about the same price. This is because most of these providers are MVNOs on the Optus network, meaning they have similar wholesale arrangements will Optus.
It also gives Optus the leeway it needs to blow them all away with a double data deal.
Because these are all SIM Only plans, you will need to BYO device, like a tablet or a WiFi modem. The smaller providers don't sell devices, so you might need to get on eBay to find one. Or, if you have an old phone lying around, you may be able to use it as a WiFi hotspot. Some of the big telcos lock the SIMs so that they don't work in phones, but we've tested it will providers like Amaysim and it works well.
Top 10 plans for a tablet
Here we flip the data around, focusing on the cheapest plans with a 5GB of data or more — probably what you'll need in a tablet each month.
It's also worth keeping in mind that if you're already a Telstra, Optus or Vodafone customer, you might be better off getting a data SIM from your supplier and data sharing across your phone and tablet SIMs. The plans tend to be a bit more expensive, but the data-sharing feature is handy.
Top plans with a WiFi modem (most data first)
Getting back to what we were saying at the beginning about alternatives to the NBN, a few of these plans are designed to fill the gap for people who struggle with fixed line services.
Vividwireless and Optus both have products with a fair bit of data for the month at decent prices. It is worth knowing that both speed limit the connections: Vividwireless to 10Mbps and Optus at 12Mbps.
Also, latency on 4G mobile services lags far behind fixed-line internet, so these are not great options for gamers. Though that said, I have successfully played a bunch of Overwatch using the Optus Home Wireless Broadband, so it will work out well for some people.
Joe Hanlon is Publisher at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website. He’s been writing about phones and plans for far too long.