It’s safe to say that internet providers generally favour customers who are in it for the long term, as opposed to those who are renting or always on the move. With lengthy contracts, hefty exit fees and sometimes general inflexibility, providers evidently want you to stick around for a while. However, with a housing market that’s becoming increasingly unaffordable for some families, more than four million Australians now live in rented accommodation – often on a short lease of a year or less.
As a result of this ‘housing affordability crisis’ and rental boom, some internet service providers have jumped on board with broadband plans tailored specifically for renters. These include plans with short contracts and easy relocation options, no home phone line rental and/or low or no set-up fees, amongst other features. So what are the best deals available for renters? Read on to find out about some great internet plans for renters.
Internet plans for renters: What should I look out for?
There are a few things you need to look out for in a broadband plan if you’re renting – especially short term (i.e. a year or less). These include:
- Short-term or no contracts
- ‘Naked’ plans (i.e. no home phone line rental)
- Low or no set-up fees
While these three may seem arbitrary if you just want the ‘cheapest’ internet plan, what you may need to consider is the fact that if and when it comes time to move on, will you be able to just up and leave without worrying about contracts? Will you have to worry about home phone numbers and associated costs? Not to mention, various cheap plans also incur hefty set-up fees that can make a plan prohibitive short-term. After all, you’re dealing with moving costs and paying a bond and two week’s rent upfront, getting away with no set-up fees may be easier on the budget.
- Chances are if you find a plan with all three features with your desired level of data, you’re onto a winner
- Unfortunately it’s mostly a case of ‘pick two, and deal with the other one’
Internet plans with short-term or no contracts
Who wants to be tied down these days? Even in today’s fast-paced world, internet providers still love to tie you in for at least 12 months, with most plans on 24 month contracts. Some providers may offer ‘no contract’ plans but could get you somewhere else later down the track, be it with next to no customer service, home phone establishment fees, installation fees, expensive modem costs or any other hidden costs they can think of. However, there are a few providers that seem to come with no contracts and generous amounts of data.
- Dodo is one of the cheapest to offer unlimited data, but its no contract plan incurs a $99 upfront fee. Going for a 24 month plan waives this fee
- AusBBS comes with no contract and has an Australian call centre, but carries a $55 set-up fee
- Exetel offers one of the cheapest NBN plans with no contract, but you will pay a hefty set-up fee and only get 100GB data, which could be eaten up quickly in a sharehouse
Naked broadband plans
‘Naked’ is a term used to describe broadband plans that come with no home phone line rental. While the three providers mentioned earlier do come with no contracts, they do not include home phone line rental or call packs, which could possibly and easily amount to $20 or more per month extra on top of your plan. In this case, if you have no need for home phone calls – and who does with cheap unlimited mobile plans these days – then naked internet can be the way to go.
- MyNetFone stands out for offering naked internet on no contract. That’s two boxes ticked, but it comes with a $99 upfront fee and a relatively low 500GB data
- MyRepublic stands out for offering a low ($1) set-up fee and unlimited data, but on a 12 month contract
- iiNet is a popular provider in the Aussie telco landscape and offers a fairly compelling plan, but it comes with a 24 month contract, a prohibitive set-up fee and only 250GB data
As you can see in the table below, these plans are a little more expensive than the ADSL plans above, but not having to pay for line rental can even things out a bit. Going for a naked internet plan doesn’t mean you have to forego home phone calls entirely either.
- All three of these plans offer ‘pay as you go’ (PAYG) VoIP phone services.
This is basically making calls over the internet, instead of through the traditional copper home line. With these plans you’ll have to pay extra for call packs, but some are available from only $10 extra per month, which is great if Nanna Joan still wants to give you her weekly bingo updates.
Broadband plans with low or no set-up fees
If you’re in the process of moving into your new home and having to contend with fronting up the cash for bond, moving costs and any new furniture or appliances, having a broadband plan with hefty set-up fees is probably the last thing you need. Often providers like to charge at least an extra $50 for set-up, with some charging anywhere from $100 to $200! You can save a direct hit to your budget and perhaps buy a bigger TV or save for that holiday by saving on set-up fee with these three providers:
- Barefoot comes with absolutely no set-up fees or fees to change your plan, and also comes with unlimited data, as well as no contract. You will have to supply a home phone line, though
- Mate offers much the same deal as they are owned by the same company as Barefoot
- SpinTel looks to be a standout by ticking all three boxes – no contract, included line rental with PAYG calls, and no set-up fees. You will get only 500GB of data, however unlimited data is only $5 a month extra
NBN and Cable broadband for renters
Most of the plans above covered only the old-hat ADSL connection. If NBN is fast coming to your area or new home like a looming wave, or if your only option is cable broadband, then it’s probably best to take a look at some NBN or cable plans.
- Generally speaking, NBN plans can be more expensive versus the equivalent ADSL plan
- They often come with set-up fees, but no contracts
- However, you often don’t have to contend with line rental, instead getting an NBN phone or VoIP service included
At the cheapest end of the spectrum, we see a few familiar faces, like Exetel, Spintel and iiNet. Teleron also comes into the frame with 500GB of data. The main thing you’ll realise is that these plans are on the slowest of the speed tiers. Often you’ll have to be willing to pay extra $10-$20 per month for each speed jump you make, making a top tier NBN plan generally pretty expensive.
If you’re someone who downloads or streams a lot of content, then a faster cable connection is probably the way to go, but keep in mind it’s often the only way to go and cable broadband is available only in very select areas – often in inner suburbs of capital cities. You also only really get two network possibilities – Optus and Telstra – with only one provider usually available at your house. Nevertheless, cable broadband connections are generally faster – anywhere from a theoretical top download speed of 30Mbps up to 100Mbps!
Want ultimate flexibility? Go mobile
We’re not talking about using your mobile phone’s data allowance all the time, but several providers do offer mobile broadband plans with generous amounts of data and an included modem.
- Optus offers 200GB for $80 a month and no set-up fees, but you will contend with a 24 month contract plan
- Vividwireless stands out for offering unlimited mobile broadband with no contract for $89 a month, but you will incur a hefty $200+ modem fee. Signing up for a 24 month contract waives this fee. Vivid has stated that the maximum download speed with this deal is 10Mbps, which is slower than modern ADSL
With these plans you get a SIM card like any old mobile phone plan, but you will get an included modem you can simply plug it into.
- These options are great for if you’re in a sharehouse and want your own internet connection, or if you want something truly mobile – able to go where you go with no fuss
Generally, contracts matter less here as you can freely move the plan around, but if you’re buying one of these plans as a ‘stop gap’ solution, then finding a no contract solution may be the way to go. As you can see, you’re probably going to be paying more by the month than with an ADSL, NBN or cable plan, but you may find the flexibility to be truly worth it.
Modems and wireless routers when renting
Probably the last thing you will consider when moving out – but an important thing nonetheless – is what the deal is with buying a modem or router, or whether your new provider will include one.
- A lot of the providers mentioned above do include a router or modem as standard, however some of the cheapest plans do not, or charge extra for one
- Buying your own router can be a blessing in disguise, as you can find some pretty cheap ones that do the job well, or choose where your money goes and buy a fancy one to revolutionise your internet experience
- In any case, it’s worth looking into the finer detail of a plan you’re after to see if it includes a wireless router. If not, our buying guide may be able to help
Furthermore, if you’re transitioning to an NBN connection, you’ll also have to see if your router is ready for it. Chances are that if your router is less than a few years old it will be, but if it’s older you may want to think about upgrading.
- This is because with the NBN you’ll likely experience faster speeds, so to get the best experience you’ll want to get a compatible router
- Luckily most providers offer a free ‘NBN transition’ package, which may include an upgrade of your wireless router
- If not, most routers in-store that provide 300Mbps ‘link speeds’ or better are viable contenders for your money
Internet for renters: The final word
All in all, renters are pretty well covered when it comes to home internet plans, but whether you rent or own your own home, the most important message is that it’s good to shop around and keep an eye out for the best deal. If you are shopping around, you’ll quickly find that you often have a conundrum of choosing:
- Short or no contracts
- Low set-up fees
- No line rental
Very rarely do plans feature all three benefits. Often it’s a case of ‘pick two to go with, and begrudgingly deal with the other one’. Often, dealing with a contracted plan costs you no extra and can even save you money. Be wary of those lengthy two year contracts though. By the same token, set-up fees often come with plans on no-contract, and the cheaper plans also often make you fork out extra for line rental and home phone calls.
- ‘Naked’ internet is usually a safe way to go if renting, but you are probably going to pay slightly higher fees per month as opposed to other avenues
- NBN connections also often come with no contracts and no line rental, but unfortunately often come with set-up fees and a higher per-month cost
Overall, the message is that finding the ideal plan is a juggling act and may require some compromise. The best bet is to shop around with how much data you need at a price that’s comfortable for you and go from there. Don’t strain your back moving that heavy couch!