Canstar Blue’s annual review of ADSL and Cable broadband internet providers compares Internode, Belong, Dodo, iiNet, Optus, TPG, iPrimus & Telstra on their customer service, network performance, ease of activation, contract clarity, bill clarity, value for money & overall satisfaction.
See our Ratings Methodology.
Until the National Broadband Network (NBN) arrives at your door, you’re pretty much stuck with a good old copper ADSL connection. A sturdy cable connection may also be on offer – if you’re lucky enough to live in an area that has it. But while you wait to be connected to the NBN, it’s important that you’re still getting the best service and value that you can from your existing internet provider, so don’t be afraid to shop around before the NBN becomes available. You may even plan your next move with one eye on the NBN switch. If you’re already connected to the NBN, head over to our NBN provider ratings.
There are well over 40 internet service providers out there, which include all the big names you’ve no doubt heard of or seen the ads for on TV. However, there are loads of other providers you may not be aware of, and the trick is to dig a little deeper to find the best internet provider that meets your needs, along with a price you’re happy to pay. This is true whether you’re already on the NBN, or just looking for a better provider for your existing service. Our goal is to make that digging process a little easier and help you find that perfect internet provider match.
These ratings are based on the experiences of Australian households with an ADSL2+ or cable internet connection, with internet providers compared on factors including customer service, contract clarity, network performance and value for money. In 2018, Internode has been rated highest overall, scoring five stars in almost all research categories. It is the second year in a row that Internode has come out on top, leading the way from the big telcos and other challenger brands.
Our customer ratings table reports the real-world experiences of Aussie households who have either an ADSL or cable broadband connection with one of the eight providers listed, giving you an idea of what to expect should you decide to sign up with one of them. For further guidance on which might be the best bet for your internet needs and budget, here is an overview of what each has to offer.
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Internode was one of the early adopters of ADSL2+ speeds when they were first introduced and in 2011 the South Australian provider was acquired by iiNet, which would later become part of the TPG Telecom group – now Australia’s second biggest internet provider after Telstra. However, Internode continues to operate as an independent brand, with its own range of internet plans:
The Adelaide-based telco was the only provider in this year’s ratings to achieve five stars for overall satisfaction and indeed for every other category except value for money where it still recorded four stars – indicating that many consumers look for more than just a cheap price.
Belong – a brand under Telstra – offers “hassle free broadband” and internet that won’t “cramp your style”. Indeed, Belong has pretty some simple ADSL offerings, with either 100GB or unlimited data to choose between. 100GB costs under $40 a month, while unlimited data comes in at about $45 a month.
Belong is described as an initiative to get ‘Telstra internet’ at slightly cheaper prices, which it obviously delivers. In this year’s ratings, Belong scored four stars for overall satisfaction and the same score across most other categories, with the exception of customer service and value for money where it dropped to just three stars.
A brand owned by the Vocus Communications group, Dodo is one of a select few companies to deliver multiple household services, including electricity and gas. When it comes to internet, Dodo is typically one of the cheapest providers around, including deals with unlimited data from under $30 a month!
Dodo achieved fairly solid results overall, rated four stars for overall satisfaction and across every other category, making it a solid performer. Dodo achieved similar recognition across most states in our latest review of electricity providers, with its big discounts often making it one of the cheaper alternatives.
iiNet has been a stalwart in these ratings for many years now, known for offering a great alternative to the biggest providers. Like with most other providers in the iiNet/TPG family, plans start at around $60 a month, but for unlimited data you’ll need to be willing to pay about $10-$20 extra.
iiNet is another provider with Fetch entertainment available from about $10 a month extra, and it is sometimes included at no extra charge. iiNet achieved four stars for overall satisfaction and in most other categories, except for contract clarity and bill clarity where it achieved a notable five stars.
Internet giant Optus streamlined its plan offerings recently, now offering unlimited data from just $60 a month. Beyond that, Optus has the rights to the English Premier League soccer, which is available on an entertainment plan with which you’ll also get Fetch for about $80 a month.
The entertainment bundle includes the Fetch ‘Mighty’ PVR, along with one channel pack and Optus Sport. As for cable, its plans are exactly the same and start from $60 a month. Optus has historically been rated the best ISP for Netflix, making it a viable contender if you’re into streaming. As for customer satisfaction, it was rated four stars overall and in many areas, but did fall down for customer service and value for money, achieving three stars apiece here.
TPG offers a wide range of competitive internet plans, with data allowances starting at 20GB and costing around $40 a month, while for unlimited you’ll probably get better value at just under $60 a month with line rental.
IPTV is basically an internet-based streaming service that uses TPG’s own media player to watch channels like Aljazeera, Bloomberg News and FTA TV through your computer. It’s like TV but streamed over the internet and at no extra monthly cost – all you have to do is register. TPG was a solid performer overall in this year’s review, with four stars for overall satisfaction and across most other categories. But it notably achieved five stars for value for money – the only provider to do so.
Another brand under the Vocus Communications umbrella, iPrimus offers markedly different plans to Dodo. Prices start at around $60 a month, but for unlimited data you’ll have to pay about $80 a month.
It seems customers were only reasonably satisfied with iPrimus, as it was rated three stars for overall satisfaction and for most other categories, except for customer service where it achieved four stars.
As the biggest telco in Australia, it is perhaps a little unsurprising to see the old ‘big blue’ rounding off the list. After all, Telstra is the arguably the yardstick by which all other telcos are measured.
On the flip side, Telstra is king for its entertainment bundles, with many of its dearest plans coming with Foxtel and other added perks. Despite the tempting entertainment proposition, however, Telstra was rated just three stars for overall satisfaction and in every other category, except network performance and bill clarity where it achieved four stars.
While the eight broadband providers featured above can generally be thought of as the biggest around, it’s worth pointing out that there are many other providers equally capable of offering you a good deal. These include:
While the big providers are probably going to be your first port of call, looking into a smaller provider may prove to be better value in terms of straight up data versus price. However, generally the biggest internet providers offer more than just cheap deals. Often, they provide comprehensive support with call centres operating around the clock, as well as easy online service and support options.
Bigger internet providers may also remove much of the ‘mystery factor’ and often come with free and prompt installation, which these smaller providers may not be able to provide. All in all, it’s a good idea to keep an open mind and consider a wide range of plans and providers before signing up.
Customer service is the single most important factor driving overall satisfaction when it comes to internet providers, our research shows. In 2018, it overtook network performance in our customer satisfaction ratings as the number one driving factor. This suggests that many of us still on an ADSL or cable connection value customer service over a cheap price or superfast plan. The drivers of satisfaction were:
Given that ADSL and cable speeds are generally more predictable than speeds on the NBN, with prices remaining pretty competitive, it’s little wonder some telcos differentiate themselves based on customer service.
With an average reported spend of just over $73 a month, and with over half of those surveyed having an unlimited data internet plan, customers may find they are paying too much for the amount of data or other features they are currently receiving from their provider. The cheapest unlimited data deals come in at less than $40 a month.
The rollout of the NBN in your area could still be a long way off, so there are a few things you can do to get the most out of your existing ADSL or cable provider – and that includes shopping around for a new deal. Whether you’re choosing an ADSL option, or you’re looking at a good cable plan for your home, it pays to shop around. Here are some useful resources to help you decide what internet plan to go with:
Taking a look at the big service providers in our ratings will also be a good starting point, but don’t forget you have a lot of options when it comes to ADSL or cable internet.
ADSL stands for ‘Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line’ and remains the most common form of fixed-line home internet in Australia, with ADSL2+ the new and improved version. ADSL uses telephone lines to provide internet access, making it the cheapest type of connection.
What ADSL may lack in download speeds, it more than makes up for with sheer choice of providers and plans, with more than 40 internet providers in Australia each with their own selling points.
Cable internet is delivered through a hybrid network of extremely fast fibre optic cables and slower coaxial cables, resulting in increased bandwidth limits and higher speeds for end-users.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a cable-connected home, you will likely only have the choice of one provider with less plan choice than what is offered to ADSL customers. You’ll also generally have to pay more, with prices starting at around $60 a month. However, you will also generally benefit from faster speeds.
Canstar Blue surveyed 6,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who currently have an ADSL or cable plan in their name and they pay the bills – in this case, 1,758 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.
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