Aussies switch to smaller telcos to save
More Australians are making the switch from larger to smaller broadband providers for their NBN plans according to the latest market report produced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Between June 2022 and 2023 Australia's three largest operators by market share (Telstra, TPG and Optus) lost 320,477 residential services - or around 5% of their combined total.
At the same time, the ACCC notes that smaller providers like Vocus (owners of Dodo and iPrimus) and Aussie Broadband have experienced a surge in business. In fact, in the June quarter of this year alone the two telcos gained over 60,000 services.
For Alex Choros, a telco expert and editor at WhistleOut Australia, the trend is simply a reflection of Australians looking for ways to tighten their belts and prioritising price over premium internet plans.
"When you look at the wider NBN market Telstra and Optus sit in the premium space and their plans are some of the most expensive on the market. For Telstra, you're looking at $95 per month for their NBN 50 plan and $110 for their NBN 100 plan which is well and truly at the top end.
"In this economic climate with the cost of living as high as it is, I think that people are interested in seeing if there are other options out there."
By comparison, Choros says that the average price (excluding discounts) of an NBN 50 plan is around $70 to $75 per month and around $90 per month for an NBN 100 plan.
What are the cheapest NBN plans?
So for those looking beyond the major players, which NBN providers are currently offering up competitively priced deals?
Choosing the right NBN plan will obviously depend on your speed and data requirements, but for the most popular speed option (NBN 50) plans start from around $55 per month when factoring in promotional discounts - a practice which Choros notes is now relatively standard.
"Dodo in particular has been doing some really aggressive discounts recently. They're offering $53.80 per month for an NBN 50 plan for six months and then $75 a month after, so that's one of the deepest discounts you can get on an NBN plan right now," Choros says.
"Then Exetel has a pretty similar offer. It's $53.99 per month for the first six months and then $74.99 per month after, and they also have five free speed boosts each month where, if you're on the NBN 50 plan, you can boost up to the NBN 100 plan five times for no extra cost."
Which NBN providers have Australian-based support?
Of course, some customers will place importance on factors beyond price when comparing internet providers and plans - one of which is being able to speak to someone based in Australia for support if a connection or billing issue crops up.
It was a big enough driver for Telstra to announce last year that it would start offering local support again for all residential and small business customers in Australia.
And Choros believes that providing customers with Australian-based support is one of the major factors behind Aussie Broadband's growth.
"Some of the smaller providers have been doing a really good job marketing themselves, like Aussie Broadband which has grown massively and built this phenomenal reputation for customer service. Their support is all local and they make a big point about having it."
Beyond Aussie Broadband, the likes of Future Broadband, Mate, Southern Phone and Start Broadband are among the providers whose customer service teams are based locally, though plenty of other telcos offer a mix of Australian and overseas-based support.
Is switching NBN providers easy?
Whether the motivation is to find more bang for your buck or better customer service, Choros recommends comparing plans every six months or so. Even if you don't end up switching, he says it's worth finding out how your plan stacks up against the rest of the market.
"There are plenty of opportunities to save and there's very little cost to switching NBN providers. In most cases you should be transferred over in less than an hour, so there's minimal downtime.
"So have a look at your bill and what you're paying, because if you're currently paying more than $75 a month on NBN 50 or more than $90 with NBN 100 you can definitely get a better deal."
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