2017 Phone and Internet Bundles
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Canstar Blue’s annual review of bundled phone & internet providers compares Internode, Belong, iiNet, Optus, TPG, Westnet, Dodo, iPrimus and Telstra for network performance, value for money, customer service, bill clarity and contract clarity.
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Canstar Blue research finalised in March 2017, published in April 2017.
See our Ratings Methodology.
Good call: Internode rated best for bundles
Many of us have an unlimited mobile phone plan these days, and the classic landline phone is becoming a bit of a relic in many Australian homes. However, around the country there is still a great need for the humble home phone line, be it for easy calling from your couch, cheap international rates, or for elderly people who perhaps don’t have a mobile phone. Bundling your home phone with an internet plan may be the best way to get some good value out of two services that are so intrinsically linked.
And the good news is that home phone and internet bundles can be had on pretty much any broadband connection type – be it ADSL and cable, NBN or otherwise. Across these three connection types, there are more than 100 different service providers, and most of them offer some form of home phone and internet bundle. However, before you dive into the deep rabbit hole of internet providers in Australia, consider our 2017 customer review and ratings as a good starting point. Ultimately, the key is to find a plan that best suits your needs – at a price you’re happy to pay – and a provider that makes life as easy as possible with a reliable service and great customer service.
Our ratings have compared arguably the nine biggest phone and internet providers, with the majority of Aussie households subscribed with one of these telcos. They have been compared on all the factors you should consider before signing up to a new plan, including network performance, customer service and value for money. You will never really know how good an internet provider is until you actually become a customer, but these ratings are as close as you can get.
So who comes out on top? In 2017, like the previous four years, Internode has been rated the best of the bundled bunch, scoring five star reviews in all research categories. To lead the likes of Telstra, Optus, iiNet, TPG and Dodo for five years on the spin is a stunning effort from the Adelaide-based tiny telco. It may not have as many customers as the big guys, but it is clearly keeping its fans very happy.
Those surveyed had any type of broadband connection – ADSL, cable or NBN – along with some form of home phone calling included. Though what you should know is that the way the home phone part of the bundle is delivered is different based on what type of broadband connection you have, so let’s see how ADSL, cable and NBN connections differ. But first, here are the cheapest bundles with unlimited data currently on offer from the providers in this review:
ADSL and Cable Bundled Plans
ADSL connections use the traditional copper telephone lines to provide internet access, so bundling the two services together not only makes sense, but it can also prove to be pretty economical. Cable is basically the same type of deal, but if your home is connected to a cable service then you’ll be using high-speed fibre optic and slightly slower coaxial cables to get both internet and home phone lines.
- The cheapest ADSL home phone broadband plans come in at around $40 or so a month
- Cable home phone broadband plans start at around $60 a month
- Ordinarily, sourcing your own home phone line will cost about $20 or so extra per month, so having it included is a nice feature
However, the main caveat is that these plans often do not include any call packs. Instead you just ‘pay as you go (PAYG). While this is a great option for those mainly just using their mobile phones, the costs can add up quickly especially if you’re paying 20c a minute or more for a call!
- To add a local/national unlimited home phone pack you’ll need to be willing to spend an extra $10 or so per month
- These packs may or may not include calls to mobile phones so you might need to be willing to pay an extra $10 again for this inclusion
- For international calls, providers often offer international packs that include popular countries such as, New Zealand, the USA and UK for about an extra $10 or so per month
So, if you want an ‘all inclusive’ home phone internet bundle, you can expect to pay anywhere from an extra $10-$30+ per month on top of your basic internet plan, which can certainly add up.
NBN Bundled Plans
NBN phone and internet bundled plans could be considered more interesting than their ADSL or cable counterparts. This is because NBN plans often come with the choice of either a VoIP calling service – ‘VoIP’ standing for ‘voice over internet protocol’ or the NBN phone.
- Starting prices are pretty similar to those found on ADSL or cable connections, starting at around $45, but for unlimited data you’ll need to be willing to spend at least $55
- However, this is heavily dependent on what speed tier you’re after, with higher speeds generally dictating higher prices
- Keep in mind that these prices merely include PAYG prices most of the time, with call packs available from an extra $10 or so per month
As for how you actually make a home phone call with an NBN connection, there are two methods as mentioned earlier – NBN phone and VoIP. Between the two, the difference lies in the detail:
- When you get your NBN modem, you have two kinds of ports – ‘Uni-D’ and ‘UNI-V’
- There are a few techy differences, but the main one is that Uni-D ports support VoIP services, while UNI-V ports support NBN phone services
- UNI-V generally allows a direct ‘plug and play’ approach to your current home phone handset, meaning you can just switch over to this port and make calls like you did with your old ADSL or cable connection.
- Uni-D on the other hand requires a bit more of a hands-on approach, and you’ll need to establish a new VoIP service that plugs into the port. With VoIP you are making phone calls over the internet.
Don’t fret though, because often this is all taken care of by your bundled NBN provider, with some even offering both types of calling service.
- NBN phone is generally more convenient but can be more expensive
- VoIP phone set-up can be a hassle but could work out to be cheaper
Like with ADSL and cable bundled plans, entry costs for these plans generally don’t include any VoIP or NBN phone call packs. This means that you’ll usually have to front up for an extra $10 or so per month, but this usually gets you unlimited national calls to landlines and mobiles. International call packs are an additional cost and can add anywhere up to $30 or more to your total bundle cost. Overall, in terms of bundling charges, customers are no worse or better off than their ADSL or cable counterparts, which is ultimately a good thing.
Across the board, our survey found that Aussie households are spending an average of $77 a month on bundled phone and internet plans.
Whether you’re on an NBN, ADSL or cable bundled plan, it pays to know what you’re after and what to look for, keeping in mind that home phone call packs often cost extra. And while there are many service providers out there (which we’ll come to shortly), it’s first worth giving some thought to the major telcos that feature in our ratings. With that in mind, let’s get an overview of what each provider offers in terms of phone and internet bundles.
Internode internet bundles
You may not have heard of Internode, but it’s one of the oldest ISPs in the list, with humble beginnings dating back to Adelaide in 1991. In 2011, it was acquired by iiNet and now its plans mimic those found with the bigger telco. For ADSL home phone customers, expect to pay around $50 a month for its basic plans, but keep in mind that these come with PAYG calls on the ‘NodeLine’ service.
- PAYG rates start at 18c and are as high as 29c per minute with varying flagfall charges.
- For about an extra $10 a month, you can get home phone packs with unlimited calling.
NBN customers get connected with a ‘NodePhone’ VoIP service from about $50 a month, again with PAYG calls. Bundled plan customers are evidently very satisfied with Internode and its bundled options as it dominated the ranks with five stars in every category.
Belong internet bundles
A small telco owned by Telstra, Belong offers some pretty simple bundled ADSL and NBN plans, starting at around $55 a month, with price dependent on NBN speed tiers and data allowances. As standard, all of Belong’s ADSL plans come with monthly line rental, but actual call packs start at $10 or so extra per month.
- For $10, you’ll get the ‘Belong Voice’ pack, which includes unlimited calls to national numbers.
These plans can come on a no lock-in contract basis, meaning you can chop and change your bundle at any time. Evidently many Aussies are reasonably satisfied with Belong’s approach to bundled phone and internet plans as it achieved four stars overall and the same score in every category, except bill clarity where it was rated three stars.
iiNet internet bundles
iiNet has been a familiar face in our ratings for many years now, known for being the ‘go-to’ alternative to the big guys. Like with so many providers in the iiNet/TPG family, plans start at around $60 a month and from there it’s easy to add on call packs if you so choose, with ADSL plans generally including line rental as standard.
- For bundled plans, you have no choice but to choose an unlimited data plan, which are around $80 a month for ADSL and NBN Tier 2.
With these plans you’ll pay a $10 odd premium over the standard plans, and you’ll get unlimited local and national calls. Calls to mobiles are generally $10 extra again. iiNet was a solid performer overall, rated four stars for overall satisfaction and every other category.
Optus internet bundles
Internet giant Optus has a really slimline approach when it comes to bundled phone and internet plans. Starting at $60, all of its plans include home phone line rental, but with PAYG calls. From there, you can get ‘bolt ons’ from $5 a month.
- An extra $5 a month gets you either unlimited mobile calls or unlimited landline calls. You can buy two $5 bolt-ons to get the usual fare of unlimited calling to pretty much any phone number. International bolt-ons are also available from $10 extra a month.
Beyond that PAYG call rates start around 28c/minute for any type of domestic call. Optus is also a market leader when it comes to bundled entertainment packs too, with rights to EPL football and Fetch on some plans as well as being rated the best ISP for Netflix streaming. Optus was another solid performer in this year’s review, rated four stars for overall satisfaction and in every category except bill clarity where it was rated three stars.
TPG internet bundles
Telco giant TPG acquired iiNet in 2016 and in doing so became the second biggest internet provider in Australia. Despite its giant stature, TPG still offers a range of competitive phone and internet plans, with ADSL2+ data allowances starting at 100GB and costing around $50 a month, while for unlimited you’ll get good value at just under $60 a month. As with most providers, you can opt for a contract or no contract for an extra monthly fee. As for calling bundles, they are generally deadly simple to follow.
- You get PAYG calls as standard, and starting at $10 extra you get unlimited calls to landlines and mobiles in Australia, while other packs of various costs include international calls as well.
As for TPG’s NBN plans, call packs are generally an extra $10-$20 a month and international minutes come as standard with a lot bundles. TPG performed pretty well in our 2017 review, rating four stars for overall satisfaction and in every other category except for bill clarity where it was rated three stars.
Westnet internet bundles
In a bit of a landmark effort in this year’s ratings, Westnet was the only provider other than Internode to be rated five stars in any category, and that was for bill clarity. Westnet, under the iiNet umbrella, offers much the same plans as Internode with similar home phone calling packs.
- PAYG rates come as standard, but $10-$20 fees apply if you want unlimited calls. With NBN plans, you also get a choice of either a VoIP service or NBN phone, but the NBN phone packs seem a little dearer, despite their equivalent inclusions.
Overall the tiny telco from Western Australia was rated four stars, but it stood out with five stars for bill clarity, while being rated three stars for network performance.
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Dodo internet bundles
Known as the ‘internet that flies’, Dodo is one of the cheapest providers in Australia to offer unlimited data plans, coming in at under $30 a month! However, these cheapest plans do not generally include home phone line rental. To get the best value with Dodo you’ll have to bundle, which is probably a given if you’re reading this report! If you bundle, expect data allowances to get a boost with ADSL plans, and ‘line rental’ coming as standard on NBN plans.
- Call packs start at about $10 a month on both connection types and you get unlimited landline and mobile calls for this fee. NBN connections tend to use the NBN phone as standard.
The $30 standard fee for line rental on ADSL plans is a hefty fee on otherwise pretty cheap plans. Dodo was rated three stars for overall satisfaction and saw a mixed bag of results overall.
iPrimus internet bundles
As another company under the Vocus Communications umbrella, iPrimus offers markedly different plans to Dodo. Prices start at around $50 a month, but for unlimited data you’ll have to pay about $80.
- All plans include home phone line rental, as well as unlimited local and national calls as standard.
iPrimus stands out for offering simple bundled plans with calls automatically included, instead of having to pay extra for them at the checkout. As for its NBN plans, phone calls tend to be made over a VoIP service and prices look to be the same overall as its ADSL plans on Tier 1 speeds, but you will pay extra across the other two tiers iPrimus offers – 2 and 4. In 2017, iPrimus was rated three stars for overall satisfaction and in most other categories, but did achieve four stars for customer service.
Telstra internet bundles
Australia’s biggest telco rounds off this year’s review with three stars for overall satisfaction. Such is the size of Telstra that any move it makes is under intense scrutiny and this is perhaps why it achieved a flat three stars for overall satisfaction and in every other category. Telstra’s plans start at $70 a month but customers only receive 100GB data. Unlimited data starts at $99 a month. Plans come with a 24 month contract as standard but several month-to-month options are available.
- As for home phone call inclusions, with ADSL connections, pay-as-you-go rates come as standard, with standard calls starting at 22c a call.
Prices and inclusions are similar on NBN connections with Tier 2 speeds as standard with speed boosts from an extra $20 a month. While you do tend to pay a fair bit with Telstra, it is king for its entertainment bundles, with many of its dearest plans coming with Foxtel, as well as Telstra TV and NRL and/or AFL game passes, where you can watch every game live on your mobile phone or tablet.
Smaller bundle providers
If the big guys mentioned above aren’t tickling your fancy, looking to smaller providers may deliver what you’re after from a bundled phone and internet plan. Often, these tiny telcos offer competitive bundles and with NBN VoIP services as standard. Some of the most prominent include:
While the big providers are probably going to be your first port of call, looking into a smaller provider may prove to be beneficial. Home phone packs are pretty much the same across the board – with $10 fees pretty much always providing unlimited calls to national landlines at the very least, though PAYG rates do vary wildly between providers. The biggest providers offer more than just good marketing. They usually provide comprehensive support with call centres operating around the clock, as well as easy online customer service and support options. They also provide a ‘known entity’ where you can pretty much expect a consistent level of service, which some smaller providers may not be able to replicate. All in all, we hope these ratings have been helpful and you are well-prepared the next time you need to purchase a new bundled internet plan.
Frequently Asked Questions
Canstar Blue commissioned Colmar Brunton to survey 6,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have a bundled internet account in their name and they pay the bills – in this case, 3,143 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then alphabetically. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.