There’s a growing number of Australians who just can’t get fast internet. Perhaps you’re in a crummy apartment building, or maybe the NBN isn’t coming to your area for months and the only alternative is ADSL so slow you couldn’t even watch paint dry on YouTube.
Maybe you can get the NBN, but you’re in a Fibre to the Node area where performance is so bad that – for you – the NBN is a four letter word not mentioned in polite company.
Regardless, you may one one of a growing number for whom quality fixed broadband is little more than a dream.
Fortunately, in some areas, there are alternatives. Everyone derided 4G and 5G as a threat to the NBN, but in 2019, those wireless plans can be a realistic, viable alternative that can offer speeds equal to (or even faster than) the fastest NBN plans.
One plan many will be familiar with is Optus Wireless Broadband. We’ve written about it before – and in fact, we use it at the moment – because it offers great value, and the flexibility of month-by-month plans (provided you buy a modem up front.
On the plus side, you get up to 500GB data for $85 a month, on your choice of month-by-month or 24 month contracts. Opt for the contract, and you get the modem for free, month-by-month and you’re up for about $192 for a Huawei fixed 4G modem.
Depending on where you are, the built-in antenna might meet your needs, but you can always grab an external antenna to boost your signal through the roof. This is precisely what we’ve done, and we frequently see speeds in excess of 100mbps .. though, like most broadband services, it slows down a little in the evening.
The downsides are that you’re stuck with Optus’ limited range of supported modems. You can’t put an Optus Wireless Broadband SIM in just any device. We’ve heard some stories about Optus’ modems locking up from time to time and requiring a reboot, and due to the locked-down SIMs, you can’t put them in more reliable modems to solve that issue.
Still, for $85 a month, it’s the cheapest wireless 500GB you’ll find.
If you want the flexibility of month-by-month commitment, and the option to use your SIM in whatever device you like, OVO is probably the next best option. There’s a range of plans from $49.95 a month for 50GB to $109.95 a month for 500GB.
Setting itself apart from Optus, OVO allows you to use any device – you can use a fixed wireless modem, a portable WiFi hotspot, a tablet or even a mobile phone – it’s up to you, any will work. OVO uses the Optus 4G Plus network, so you’ll get pretty decent speeds in most places, but you’re subject to the same constraints as any other wireless service. If your local tower is heavily subscribed, your speeds mightn’t be so great.
It is also a bit more expensive than Optus, at $109.95 for the same data inclusion as Optus offers for $85. What do you get for that extra $24.95? Some free streaming, basically:
- Data-free motorsport on OVOPlay includes: the 400 Thunder Professional Drag Racing Series, Formula Drift, World Rally Cross and World Superbikes
- Australian and international sports such as the Chinese Super League , Brumbies Rugby, Waterpolo, Badminton and Gymnastics with many more sporting partners coming soon
- Podcasts and Live radio from The Hit Network and Triple M
- Esports action with the Australian Esports League
- All OVO Mobile plans come with a free Family Zone cyber safety account to keep your kids safe online
Whether that’s of much value to you is entirely your assessment – for me, really, I’m not interested in any of those offerings, but the most appealing difference to Optus’ own offering is being able to use your own modem – perhaps one less prone to bugs than those Optus sell.
If 500GB data is a bit much, there’s quite a few options if you drop your requirement down to 200GB or so. With plans ranging from $64.90 a month (over 12 months), Jeenee Mobile isn’t a bad option, and you can get the same from Spintel for $74.95 a month with no contract, or for $79.95 from OVO. Southern Phone charge a large $110 a month for 250GB, again on a 12 month contract, making this a rather unappealing option for most.
Sadly, virtually none of these plans are competitive price-wise with fixed broadband options. If you can get fast ADSL, or a decent NBN connection, you could get 500GB data for as little as $55 in most places.
If you’re reading this far, though, chances are that these options just aren’t options for you. I know they aren’t for me, for at least another six months (and knowing the NBN, probably much longer) and so these options are about all I can really consider unless I’m prepared to languish on 4mbps ADSL.
Have you found a better deal? Let us know!