While ADSL, Cable and NBN internet typically requires tinkering with a router, home wireless plans promise to do away with phone line fiddling. It’s like connecting to the internet on your mobile, and nearly as simple. Home wireless is a home internet connection provided by connecting to the 4G mobile network, and can be good for those who can’t access NBN or ADSL yet need a reliable connection with lots of data.
What is home wireless broadband?
Home wireless broadband is technology that allows a modem to connect to the internet remotely. In this case, the connection we will be looking at is over the mobile phone network, however wireless broadband can also be delivered through satellite connection. Home wireless differs from mobile broadband in that it comes packaged with a router and is intended for use as a replacement for a fixed line connection. If you’re only interested in a mobile data SIM, you can see our comparisons here.
How do you set up home wireless broadband?
Home wireless plans typically involve two components; a SIM card and a modem. The SIM card is used to access the mobile network and the modem supports either a Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection. Insert the SIM in the router, power the modem on and your connection is good to go.
- Optus boast that its home wireless router takes less than 5 minutes to set up.
This is generally a much more simple process than establishing a new ADSL or NBN connection, as that usually requires professional installation and tech support. With home wireless, you just ‘plug and play’.
Why should I get home wireless broadband?
Home wireless may be especially useful if:
- You rent your home
- You frequently move
- You don’t like lock in contracts
- You can’t access NBN or ADSL
If you are a renter or frequently on the move and aren’t interested in a fixed line connection, home wireless provides you the flexibility to access the internet wherever you have power. For those on short leases, this could be invaluable.
Otherwise, the ease of use is a significant benefit. It’s not an exaggeration to say most devices in your house can support a Wi-Fi connection these days. From your personal tablet to smart fridge, you need a Wi-Fi network to make the most of your electronics. These devices typically don’t use much bandwidth, making them suitable for a mobile connection.
Does home wireless have any limitations?
Home wireless does have several limitations, with the price per megabyte being a major factor. Limitations include:
- It’s expensive; with data over wireless far more costly than ADSL or other fixed line connections in a ‘data for dollars’ sense
- Coverage can vary like a mobile phone’s signal. Home wireless won’t vary as much as your typical phone, as your router generally doesn’t leave your house. However, if your mobile reception at home is poor, you may want to think twice before committing to a lock in home wireless plan
- Top speeds can be affected easily, with some providers only promising max speeds slower than that of ADSL – 12Mbps
Who offers home wireless plans?
There are five main players in the home wireless broadband market:
The latter is now part of the Optus family, but still offers its own home wireless plans. Let’s review what’s out there below.
Telstra Home Wireless Plans from $45
Telstra recently created headlines when it claimed its new home wireless router, the NETGEAR Nighthawk M1, was the world’s fastest mobile hotspot. The device has a theoretical max speed of 1Gbps, and while this is undoubtedly so, Aussie internet may have to play catch up for some time before it can consistently reach these speeds.
Telstra offers its home wireless on a variety of plans:
- 20GB for $45
- 40GB for $70 ($110 for a month to month plan)
- 80GB for $150 ($160 for a month to month plan)
- Wireless modems are available to be bundled from $50 a month on 24 month contracts
Telstra wins out in several key areas. It often offers bonus data, and unlimited use of their public Wi-Fi service Telstra Air for new customers usually comes as standard. Though as you can probably gather, the price per megabyte of data is as high as 44c!
Optus Home Wireless Plans from $70
Optus offers one base home wireless plan. It comes with 200GB of data for $70 a month and you’re locked into a 24 month contract, but for a little extra per month you can opt for a no lock-in contract.
- The modem supplied is a Huawei E5186. Optus plans come in at a lower price point than Telstra, with more data included.
This is offset by the arguably inferior included router, which offers theoretical peak speeds of just 300Mbps, considerably slower than Telstra’s 1Gbps offering. Optus predicts its real world maximum speed at 12/1 Mbps. However, Optus does come with a range of perks such as discounted movie tickets and access to exclusive events.
Vividwireless by Optus Home Wireless Plans from $70
Vividwireless is now part of the Optus family and is a telco specialising in home wireless; in fact, it’s the only service it offers. Vividwireless don’t surface much information about its modems on the website, bar that they are plug-and-play and easy to use. Your speed may be throttled under Vividwireless’s “fair use” policy if they determine your use is heavy enough to be adversely affecting the network.
- Peer to Peer file sharing is listed as an example of activity likely to be throttled
- Additionally, connecting more than 5 devices to a Vividwireless service increases your possibility of being slowed or shaped
Vividwireless offers two data points, with both coming on a month-to-month contract. The first month attracts a set-up fee, which comprises of the compatible modem, costing $199. Vividwireless takes the bite out somewhat by offering a 14 day money back guarantee, while offering one month free (the second month is credited to your account).
SpinTel Home Wireless Plans from $69.95
SpinTel is one of the latest providers to offer home wireless plans. Already a provider of cheap NBN and ADSL plans, SpinTel offers some of the most competitive home wireless plans in the market. You get 230GB data for about $70 a month:
- The included modem is a Huawei B525 and costs $179 upfront, and home phone calls are available for an extra $10 a month.
- Speeds up to 12/1Mbps are available in 4G LTE areas, and up to 5/1Mbps in others.
The included modem is capable of supporting download speeds up to 300Mbps and features dual-band WiFi protocols which can help prioritise traffic. While SpinTel does not offer any unlimited plans, its 230GB offering for just under $70 is hard to beat.
Exetel Home Wireless Plans from $69.99
Exetel is another relatively late newcomer to the home wireless game, with near-identical plans to SpinTel’s. Exetel provides many competitive ADSL and NBN plans, and its home wireless plans are no exception. In fact, Exetel has previously been rated as the best ISP for Netflix making it a solid option if you’re a binge watcher.
- 200GB data comes in at just under $70 a month on a no lock-in contract plan.
- The supplied modem is the same as SpinTel – a Huawei B525, and costs $185 upfront.
With Exetel – and most other providers here – you receive a SIM card to plug into the modem and away you go. This eliminates any tricky set-up and, as Exetel claims, can be set-up in less than 24 hours.
Is a Home Wireless Plan right for me?
Which plan you choose comes down to your internet priorities. Those that want the fastest connection possible, such as online gamers, will probably find the Telstra offerings to suit their needs. The Nighthawk claims to be the undisputed king of home wireless, and the offerings from other providers don’t match up on speed… on paper anyway.
- If you’re a data heavy user, or suffering a Netflix addiction, the Optus, Exetel and SpinTel 200GB+ plans are a viable option as it has enough data for streaming at a comparatively cheap price.
Optus’ stated speeds are sufficient to stream internet video, and 200GB should allow for around 65 hours of Netflix HD streaming a month.
- For families or sharehouses, the Vividwireless unlimited option stands out from the pack.
Unlimited downloads for $90 is approaching fixed line value, and Vividwireless promise ease of use for the less of technological user. The 200GB a month plan would also be best for less intensive users still interested in having a home network.
With home wireless, you are really paying extra for the amount of data because of the convenience factor. If you’re moving around a lot, just want your very own home broadband connection without sharing with your family or pesky flatmates, home wireless broadband may be for you. Furthermore if you’re just after a quick-fix solution without bothering with ADSL or NBN plan installation, home wireless is again a fair idea. However expect to pay more per gigabyte than with other connections – you’ll have to weigh up the cost/convenience factor for yourself.