Getting online at home or work: buyer beware

It’s a big topic.

How can you get the best ISP deal to suit your needs.

ISP = Internet Service Provider.

Put VERY simply, it is the wiring – copper telephone line or another cable and wireless or satellite service, that allows you to connect to the Internet. Most people think Bigpond – and that may be just right for you, if you are happy to keep all your communication accounts under the one invoice…but there are better deals than those offered by Bigpond – yes really!

A common stop for the CT is Whirlpool. Whirlpool is a great online resource – you can compare and contrast possible ISP options – depending on where you live/work in Australia. You can also read through the forums and find out some juicy details on who is getting a great deal from their ISP, who is getting shafted, and other useful advice.

But first, some useful advice from the Channel Telegraph:

  • If you happen to live up a country road it may be that while the ISP says that you can get Broadband – based on a search of your phone number – it is only when they come to connect you that the problems start. The most common issue is pair gain – that is where the telephone line that serves your house/office is split between you and your neighbours and may either cause your dial-up connection to be very slow (slower than slow is surely – stopped – which on pair gain is common!! ;-\ ) It may also prevent you signing on with your non-Bigpond ISP, because Bigpond/Telstra are the only mob who can get around the “problem” for you. Sometimes you can get Broadband on a pair gain system – but probably never the seemingly lightning speeds of ADSL2 – up to 28Mbs – dream on. SO be careful when first signing up – and that’s where the problem lies – you quite often sign up, then get the bad news about the connection and find yourself with few options but Bigpond.

    Apologies as I get up on the soap box, but the poor state of the copper wire and telephone network support infrastructure in regional Australia is THE problem that stymies real competition and access to reliable and affordable plans in the Australian ISP market.

  • The right plan for you: Have an idea of what level of Internet access you need. If you infrequently surf the web, don’t download too many files and perhaps check your email a couple of times a week – then you can get away with a more cost effective plan that has a low download capacity – say 500 mb up to 1gb. But of course there then comes the issue of excess use charges – see below. Once you are on the Internet a new world opens up and you may start visiting lots of content rich websites – downloading podcasts, songs, videos, listening to Internet radio and the like. It is then you will need to be mindful that your current plan meets your needs – many ISP’s dont charge you a fee for upgrading your plan – but beware – some do!
  • Beware the excess usage costs – Shaping: Read carefully before committing to an ISP’s plan – there may be a limit to your downloads, and if you go over that limit the ISP may charge you for each extra MB you download – and that can get expensive. Look out for the term “shaping” it means that the ISP will just slow down your connection to dial up speeds, for the duration of your remaining monthly allowance, resuming at full speed (whatever full speed actually is) at the beginning of the next billing cycle – rather than charging you excess usage charges. Folk have often opened the dreaded window-faced envelope from their ISP, only to get a nasty surprise with extra charges that can run into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars in excess charges for some unfortunate souls.

Hope it helps. More posts on this topic soon.