How shopping around can save you money on your NBN plan

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These days we are dependent on the internet for a wide variety of activities - from working in a home office to running smart home security cameras and even garden watering systems. It all depends on having decent WIFI.

That makes internet access an essential part of our lives. But it shouldn't have to eat a big chunk out of your household budget.

A report by Accenture for the NBN found Australia has the sixth most affordable broadband among 13 OECD countries. The study adds that between 2018 and 2020, Australia saw the largest improvement in relative affordability of internet access across the same 13 nations.

sponsored save money on nbn plan

The upshot is that Australians now spend less on NBN services than on electricity and water. On average, just 1.1% of our income goes towards internet costs.

Nonetheless, as households grapple with the impact of rising inflation, it makes good financial sense to shop around and see if you can save on your NBN.

Know what you're currently getting

A useful starting point for comparing deals is to know what you are currently paying for. Many internet providers offer unlimited data, so what you need to focus on is the speed of your service. This is measured in megabits per second - or Mbps.

How do you know if your existing connection is giving you enough speed to suit your needs? While frustrated family members can be a good indication, it's better to get on the front foot and run a speed test online before the buffering begins. The speed test we recommend at More is www.speedtest.net.

Once you have an idea of how fast your existing internet connection is, have a think about whether you could benefit by switching to a plan with a faster speed.

Narrow down the choice

By this stage you're ready to compare prices and choose the plan that suits your budget and lifestyle. Comparison sites are a useful tool to check out the costs of a widespread of providers and plans.

Be prepared to look beyond the big names like Telstra, which has Australia's biggest market share. Consumer watchdog the ACCC recently pointed out that some smaller providers are offering consumers different options to meet their specific needs, such as tailored plans and discounted pricing options and gamer-optimised plans.

When you have narrowed your choice to, say, four or five NBN providers, jump onto the website of each of them, and enter your address to check what's available in your area.

What to watch out for

One trap to be wary of is providers who ask you to lock into a fixed term contract. The market is moving away from this, so there should be no need to sign up to contracts that tie you to the same plan for months or even years.

Conversely, it is worth looking for an NBN provider with the flexibility to upgrade or downgrade your internet speeds when it suits your needs.

If, for example, you have family members visiting for an extended holiday, you should be able to switch from, say a 50 Mbps plan to one offering 100 Mbps for a month or two, then drop back to 50 Mbps when you have the place to yourself again.

This switch can usually be made in a matter of minutes via your NBN provider's website.

Look for extra savings

Don't overlook the potential for NBN providers to offer money-saving opportunities.

As a guide, Commonwealth Bank customers are eligible for savings of 30% on More plans.  It's a valuable discount that gives eligible More customers the best price in the market.

Changing plans is easy

The important thing is that you shouldn't have to put up with high internet costs. It is now much easier to change plans and providers than it used to be.

Most providers have an online step-by-step guide for you to follow - and there should be next to no downtime.

Depending on the technology involved, you may not even need to inform your old provider that you're making a move.

From there you're able to enjoy the speed you need, with the added pleasure of pocketing savings on internet charges.

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Andrew Branson is CEO of More and Tangerine, two Australian-based telecommunication providers he co-founded with his brother Richard in 2013. Andrew is an expert on the telco industry including the NBN.