Choosing a Broadband connection

Tips & Hints

Posted 25 June, 2003

With Telstra launching a new broadband campaign, broadband Internet is getting a lot of coverage. The hype tells us broadband unleashes the power of the Internet, the naysayers claim broadband is just another way to part you from your money. There's an element of truth to both points of view.

While broadband Internet is a fast way of accessing the net, you can also end up paying too much for it. In many respects, it is like choosing a mobile phone plan, and it is important to get it right. The first thing is to understand what broadband is.

What is broadband

Broadband internet connections are high speed, always on connections. You are only charged for the data you use, not each time you connect or the time that you are on. Unlike a dial up connection, that uses a standard telephone connection, they use other means to connect to the net.

There are different types of broadband which we've covered a previous article. You may not be able to get some types, this will vary depending on your location. Even if you live next door to an inner city telephone exchange, don't assume you can get broadband.


What you want to pay is important, as the sky is the limit with broadband Internet. And you can end up paying a lot of money if you get it wrong. There are all sort of plans to suit different needs.

Like a typical mobile phone plan there is a monthly fee that includes a certain amount of data, the fee also varies with the speed and features of your plan. If you exceed the monthly allowance, then you are charged for the excess. The monthly fee usually varies depending upon how long a contract you agree to.

While the monthly fees seem expensive compared to dialup modem plans, keep in mind that you are not paying connection fees. With dial up you are paying each time you connect. If you are connecting three times a day that could be $15 a month in connection costs alone, it’s even more if you are paying additional line rental costs.

It is essential to get the plan that suits you. There are a lot of true stories of people receiving huge bills for exceeding their limits. The plan you choose must be one that suits your usage.

What are your needs

You usage will increase dramatically when you move from dial up to broadband. If you know how much data you use on dial up plan, we'd suggest at least tripling that when estimating your broadband data usage. Because it’s much faster, you will use it more.

Different types of users have different needs. If you need the broadband for business use, there are options with higher reliability and fixed IP addresses. If you want online gaming then you need a provider with low latency. Two excellent resources to research potential providers are Whirlpool and Broadband Choice.

Organising a connection

The first step is to contact the provider. They will check that you can get their service. If you can, then they will give you a connection plan.

Some providers insist you use their modems, others will supply one on request. We’d suggest getting the provider to supply it. This does affect the price of your plan.

Many providers have self-install options. You need to be careful as things do not always go right. If you are confident of doing it yourself, you can save a couple of hundred dollars. Our recommendation is to get the ISP to install it for you.

An excellent resource for self installers is Ozcableguy. Darren, the Oz Cable Guy, has good advice for networking and sharing Internet connections.

Your Email

One of the most common questions with moving to broadband is "will I keep my email address." The answer is "sort of" and depends upon your provider.

If you are moving to broadband with the same company as you currently have dial up then you might. You will with AOL and Ozemail, you won’t with Telstra. For other ISPs it’s a matter of asking.

Even if the answer is no, you can still keep your old dial up account running at the lowest possible price. This has the double advantage of keeping your old email address and gives you a fall back if there is a problem with your broadband.

Broadband does have it’s drawbacks such as price, availability and security. But it’s not for everyone. Before committing to a contract, check what you are getting is for you.

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