Wireless broadband plans
So you've decided to get wireless broadband. Now you need to know where to start when choosing a plan. There are several different ISPs; so many plans, so many different features. Read on for some help in recognising what is a good deal, and what isn't such a good deal when selecting wireless broadband plans.
Wireless Broadband Access lets you connect to the Internet almost anywhere. You have no need for a phone line connection with wireless broadband plans, and depending on the Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) you can receive wireless Internet in most populated areas in Australia, with figures for the percentage of the population covered touted at around 98 percent.
Get connected to wireless internet
All you need to get connected to wireless Internet, in terms of hardware, is a mobile Internet card or a wireless broadband modem - but first of all, you require a contract with a WISP. These are growing in numbers and now feature Telstra, Three, Optus, as well as new players Unwired, Burst and Big Air.
Many people assume wireless Internet will cost them more than ADSL or cable; this needn't be the case. Bottom of the range deals can be had for as little as $15 per month, but as with ADSL, there are a few things to look out for.
Things to consider
- Speed - how fast is the connection you're thinking about?
- You can get some mighty cheap deals, like Unwired's "Switch On" plan - only setting you back $15.95 a month - but chances are you will need something faster, especially if you plan to utilise a lot of multimedia resources
- Hardware - is the wireless modem or card included in the price? Three offer a "Mobile Broadband 1 GB" plan for only $29 per month - but like many deals on offer, the modem is not included - you will have to pay $299 for the one they provide if you don't get your own
- Download limit - Big Pond's "G Fast 256 200 MB" plan is only $39.95 per month. But are you going to breach that 200 MB cap in a month? The answer after a couple of days surfing is "most probably", leaving you either slowed down or forced to fork out more
- Contract - how long is this for? Many plans come with compulsory 24-month contracts. You may need a change by then
- Connection fees - Have you checked if there is a connection fee separate to modem cost?
- Monthly costs - Big Air can get you around 1024 kB for $199 a month, while Big Pond's "Super G Fast 1500 3 GB" plan might seem about right in regards to speed and download limit, for $149.95 - but have you truly shopped around? Three and Big Pond both provide plans with a download speed of around 1500 kBps for a reasonably competitive $49.95 per month
- Reduced rates to start - if the company gets you in with a cheap first six months, are you sure it's worth it if you are signed into an overpriced two year contract?
- The WISP - ask around for advice on the ISP you are thinking of selecting. Many people have bad things to say about Telstra, but that doesn't mean that newer companies are much better - check to see if they provide customer assistance when you want it
Once you have a contract with a WISP, the company in question can provide you with all the relevant gear, perhaps for less than you expected. Bottom of the scale deals from Unwired start from as little as $15.95 per month, while Big Pond's "Super G Fast" plans go right up to 1500 kB, with a limit of 3 GB per month, for $149.95.
In short, you will need to shop around for something that suits your lifestyle. If you are constantly surfing the Net, one of the more expensive plans is probably best. On the other hand, if you rarely ever use the Internet, a bottom of the scale deal may be perfect.
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