Even with the popularity of mobile phones and cheap unlimited phone plans these days, there is still a significant market for cordless phones and home calling. Often, internet providers still like to charge extra for line rental – $20 or more in some cases – with their phone plans, so why not try to make use of the extra cost? This is especially the case for ADSL plans, but NBN plans may also be bundled with an NBN phone plan, which is a similar type of deal. Cordless phones are available from about $30, so let’s review what’s on offer from the top brands – Uniden, Oricom, Panasonic and Telstra.
Cordless phones are pretty cheap, but not all brands are made equal. Uniden, Oricom, Panasonic and Telstra all seem to be the top cordless handset brands in Australia.
Uniden produces a fairly large range of more than 30 cordless phones, starting at around $40 for a single handset. There is even a hearing-impaired handset (E353) for about $80 or so, that features extra loud audio controls as well as quick emergency dial buttons. Uniden also produces a waterproof handset (8305WP) for about $90 that would be an ideal fit for the garage or next to the sink while washing up so you don’t have to worry about water and spills.
Uniden’s most expensive kit includes three phones, including one ‘home base’ dock (XDECT). It costs around $200, and has a feature where you can see dialled and received calls from both the handset and your mobile phone. It also features a phonebook capacity of 6000 – how many people do you know?! Uniden is perhaps one of the biggest cordless phone companies, and its range is large enough to suit most budgets and household needs, from the one-phone family, to the ‘mothership’ docking station with multiple handsets.
Oricom claims to be the world leader of ‘phone tech’. While landline phones may be a bit of an ageing technology, Oricom still makes a fairly concise range of cordless phones, start from about the $60 mark. The ‘M800-1’ seems to be the cheapest mobile, and features a basic docking station with features such as caller ID, 10 ring tones, up to 10 hours of talk time, hearing impairment clarity and quick-dialling of 100 numbers. If you’re just after a cheap handset, this could be the one.
Alternatively, there are dearer models, such as the ‘PRO910-2’, which features a corded handset with an answering machine, plus two cordless phones, which boast amplified sound for those hard of hearing. This model costs a little over $300. Oricom also produces a range of baby monitors.
If you’re after a cheap cordless phone to satisfy your home phone needs, Panasonic may provide the answer. It produces a large range of cordless phones, starting from just $30 with the KX-TGB110ALB model… say that 10 times quickly. Seeing as it costs around $30, you can expect fairly basic functionality with a 1.4-inch LCD with a narrow base station for discreet storage and the ability to fit in a tight space.
None of Panasonic’s cordless phones are priced at more than $300, and its most expensive model (KX-TG8033ALB) costs around $230. For this price you get three cordless phones plus a ‘Power Failure Talk System’, which enables the phones to even work during a blackout. This would be especially handy for checking in with loved ones in a storm or adverse weather… or if you live in South Australia. It also features a DECT repeater, which can double the transmission range for peace of mind if working out in the yard. Panasonic is an electronics giant known for making premium household appliances, but its cordless phones start at a nice price.
Telstra is Australia’s largest telco and claims to be the “network without equal”. As such, it produces a range of cordless phones to enable you to experience said network. There are two ways you can go about acquiring a Telstra handset – either buy outright, or pay a small fee per month over 24 months. For example, the cheapest phone is the ‘503’, which costs just $48 outright, or $2 a month over 24 months. Telstra also produces a range of funky-looking handsets, named the ‘Colombo Neue’ and this handset is exclusive to Telstra. The telco also offers a range of rebranded Motorola handsets.
Many of Telstra’s cordless phones have a one-touch ‘Nuisance Call’ blocking feature, and the most expensive models are still under $200. Seeing as Telstra is a telco, it also produces a range of home phone plans, which may also be bundled in with an internet plan. So let’s see what home phone plans are on offer, including internet bundles.
A number of internet service providers also offer home phone plans, either by themselves or as part of an internet bundle. While standalone home phone plans may look good, chances are you could probably find better value if you bundle it. It’s also worth seeing if your current provider offers a home phone package, which can cost as little as $10 extra per month. Providers to watch out for are:
If you’re happy with your current internet plan, don’t have an internet plan, or just want to keep the two services separate, a standalone plan may be what you’re after. Alternatively, you could stand to save if you bundle your home phone plan with an internet plan.
Internode’s home phone plans start at $29.95 a month, which features pay as you go (PAYG) call rates. Local calls start at 18c each, national calls are 15c per minute with 44c flagfall, and mobiles are 29c a minute plus 44c flagfall, while 13/1300 numbers are 40c untimed. International rates vary and come with per 44c flagfall. Beyond that you can add on a local, national and mobile pack for an extra $20 a month, while an international pack costs $10 on top of that.
You can bundle and potentially stand to save. Internode’s internet plans include line rental, with varying degrees of call inclusions. While the call packs seem to be the same price, the internet plans are then discounted, starting at around $60 a month for 250GB data and a home phone bundle. If you sign up for 24 months on an ADSL2+ plan you may also get $50 credit in your balance account.
Telstra has four plans available – ‘XS’, ‘S’, ‘M’, ‘L’. Prices are $25.95, $40, $50 and $85 per month respectively. With the XS plan, you get PAYG calls, with national calls capped at $3 from 7pm to midnight, while mobile calls are capped at $3 for the first 20 minutes, 7pm to midnight. As you’d expected, the dearest plan includes everything, including discounted rates to 72 countries. These plans also work on the NBN, making transitioning simple if you’re going from a copper to a fibre connection.
You can pay $90 a month, but for this you get 500GB of data and landline calls included. Considering that Telstra’s dearest standalone home phone plan is nearly $90 by itself, if you want to bundle with Australia’s biggest telco then you probably won’t have to pay much extra.
Optus offers just one, arguably lacklustre, home phone plan with PAYG calls for the most part. For $22 a month, local calls are charged at 30c each, national calls are 28c per minute plus 52c connection fee. National calls are capped at $2 for the first hour. Mobiles also attract the same rate, while Optus offers discounted rates to 15 countries. 13/1300 calls are 35c each, so if you’re entering a competition or calling a hotline, the flat rate is handy.
You can spend $60 a month and you get unlimited data. For an extra $5 a month you can ‘bolt on’ a home phone pack, which includes landline calls, while the mobile phone pack also costs $5. Considering by itself you’d be paying a minimum $22 anyway, why not bundle with the best ISP for Netflix? From $80 you can also bundle Fetch and Optus Sport in with this plan.
SpinTel offers three simple plans – $24.95, $34.95 and $44.95 a month. The cheapest option comes with PAYG calls, with local calls costing 12c each, national calls 20c a minute plus 39c flagfall, and mobile calls costing 34c/minute plus a 39c flagfall. The next step includes unlimited local and national calls, plus the PAYG rate for mobiles, while the dearest plan includes unlimited calls to local lines, national lines and mobiles.
You can bundle in internet, which starts at just $15 for 40GB and for an extra $10 a month you can get unlimited landline calls, while mobile calls as well are $20 extra. You can get an unlimited plan for as little as $30, but be aware you’ll also have to pay $24.95 line rental. This makes the cheapest bundled plan $49.95 a month (40GB + line rental + $10 pack).
Exetel runs off the Telstra network and has a base price of $30, which covers line rental and PAYG calls. Local calls are 20c/call, national calls are 15c/minute plus 35c flagfall, mobiles are 35c/minute plus 35c flagfall and 13/1300 numbers are 30c a call. You’ll be put on a 12 month contract. However, for just $10 a month extra you can get landlines and 13/1300 numbers included, plus PAYG rates for mobiles. An extra $20 sees everything included, while for $30 extra you get everything included plus unlimited calls to 10 countries.
You can bundle 100GB of data and unlimited landline and 13/1300 calls from about $50. This comes on a no-contract basis, so you can leave any time. You’ll incur a $100-odd set-up fee to go no-contract, and the 100GB comprises of 50GB peak/50GB off peak data. You also get unlimited international calls to selected countries as part of the deal. If you’re looking for internet, plus a home phone, Exetel is a compelling option, and uses the Optus wholesale network.
Dodo seems to offer two types of deals – a PAYG deal and a plan. PAYG rates for national calls are 29c/minute plus 39c flagfall, while mobiles are 10c more expensive per minute. 13/1300 numbers are 44c each call. International rates start at 18c/minute. Alternatively you can purchase a $39.90 monthly call pack which includes calls to landlines and mobiles. Dodo also puts a few countries and territories into its extra-value pack, whereby you only pay $1.95 for the first 30 minutes. Countries in this pack include many European and Asian nations.
You can pay $70-odd a month, and get unlimited data, plus local, national and mobile phone calls as well as line rental. If you’re on the NBN, Tier 4 prices with this same bundle are around $120 month and carry several contract options, which vary on price. With the package you also get a static IP, which is great for server hosting and the like.
iiNet’s base home phone plan costs $29.95 per month, which includes line rental. Local calls are 20c each, national calls are $1.98 up to two hours, while mobiles are up to $2.48 up to 20 minutes, and 20 international countries are charged at $1.98 up to 20 minutes, while 13/1300 numbers are 40c each. Beyond that you can add on a call pack, starting at $10 which includes local, national and mobile calls, while an international pack is an extra $10 as well.
iiNet’s broadband internet plans all include line rental with PAYG calls, from about $60-odd per month. Alternatively you can bundle in local, national calls and mobile for around $90 a month. For about $100 a month, this plan also includes international calls. Alternatively you can go the naked DSL route, which uses iiNet’s VoIP service instead.
Other service providers tend to offer bundled home phone plans from about $10 a month extra. They include:
Although, be aware that some of these providers do prefer VoIP bundles over the traditional copper wiring home phone line bundles. Prices for unlimited data start from as little as around $45 and you really can stand to save if you choose to bundle internet + phone. Be aware that some providers may charge extra for line rental, however.
Cordless phones and home phone plans may seem like a bit of a redundant product or service these days, especially with the advent of cheap unlimited mobile plans. However, there is still a significant market for them out there. Elderly people in particular may still get great benefit from the old landline telephone, where some are still operational even in blackouts.
However, where many people put a foot wrong is not bundling an internet service in with their home phone plan. While this is understandable if you don’t have an internet connection, you are probably paying too much by keeping internet + phone separate. In fact, with some providers you can even save money by just buying an internet plan with home phone calls included. Prices for internet and a home phone service start from as little as around $40, with big data inclusions and international call packs coming as standard for a lot of plans in the $70-$100 a month range. When home phone plans by themselves can cost around $80, you probably now know what sounds like a better deal.
Either way, cordless phones are the easy bit, especially when they cost as little as $30 – finding a suitable home phone and internet bundle can be a bit harder.
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