Here are some common types of fixed line services:
· Dial-up: Dial-up is generally the slowest type of Internet connection, and you should probably avoid it unless it is the only service available in your area. Like a phone call, a dial-up modem will connect you to the Internet by dialling a number, and it will disconnect when you are done surfing the Web. Unless you have multiple phone lines, you will not be able to use your land line and the Internet at the same time with a dial-up connection.
· DSL: DSL service uses a broadband connection, which makes it much faster than dial-up. DSL connects to the Internet via phone line but does not require you to have a land line at home. Unlike dial-up, it will always be on once it's set up, and you'll be able to use the Internet and your phone line simultaneously. This is marketed as ADSL2+ or Naked DSL (no home phone required).
· Cable: Cable service connects to the Internet via cable TV, although you do not necessarily need to have cable TV in order to get it. It uses a broadband connection and can be faster than both dial-up and DSL service; however, it is only available in places where cable TV is available.
· Satellite: A satellite connection uses broadband but does not require cable or phone lines; it connects to the Internet through satellites orbiting the Earth. As a result, it can be used almost anywhere in the world, but the connection may be affected by weather patterns. A satellite connection also relays data on a delay, so it is not the best option for people who use real-time applications, like gaming or Skye/video conferencing.
When our customers call us about internet options we use this very helpful website called www.whistleout.com.au to research the best deals on offer and their T’s and C’s, as offers are constantly changing.
But before we go looking for the best deal, we need to know what will serve our clients needs best, so we start with the following questions:
- Where do you live?
Where they live will determine what type of internet they can access.
- What will you be using the internet for?
Different tasks require different internet speeds to work effectively and so you need to get the speed that will do the job. Internet service providers (ISPs) usually offer different levels of speed based on your needs. If you're mainly using the Internet for email and social networking, a slower connection might be all you need. However, if you want to download a lot of music or watch streaming movies, you'll want a faster connection.
Your internet tasks will also dictate the amount of data you need. Working on the examples of Ella and Paul in the post below, Ella would need no more than 6GB a month, whereas Paul would use 80GB a month. We’ve suggested 100GB because there is generally little difference in price between 80GB plans and 100GB plans.
- What’s your budget?
The next question we ask is what the budget is, as this will help us narrow down the options. It is, in most respects, the defining consideration.
Using the examples of Paul and Ella from our previous post
Paul would like NBN broadband, as this is supposed to be the fastest and it has just rolled out in his area. He's been told that fast internet speeds are needed to watch movies, which is the primary reason he's signing up. He’s happy to spend about $50 a month for this sort of internet given his data usage will be 80-100GB per month.
Ella just needs something good enough to make sure the Skype works effectively and doesn’t drop out. Her data needs will be approx 6 GB a month. She can’t get NBN yet but she does have a telephone line. Her telephone costs are about $30 a month on the Optus Seniors Telephone line, but this increases if she wants to call a mobile or call interstate. Her budget is no more than $30 a month on top of the telephone calls, preferably less.
Paul is surprised when we tell him that the NBN offers different tiers of speeds and that not all speeds will be fast, or in fact perform at the same speed all the time. We advise him to go for an NBN Tier 2/3 package if he wants to watch (stream) movies. The best deal currently on offer is from Exetel, offering a $49 per month for 100GB with $115 set up fees for a 24 month contract. Exetel has had a high performance rating to-date. Unfortunately Tiers 4-5 (which increase in maximum speed) are outside his budget but he’s happy to start with Tier 2 and see how it goes. We’ve advised Paul that the speed should be enough most of the time but there are no guarantees as there are other factors that may impact upon the speed he can access (such as the capacity of his device, the quality of the connection between the house and the exchange, the capacity of backhaul at the nearest exchange and capacity on international cables). We advise him that he'll be locked into a 24 month contract that may not be right for him, but all other monthly offers are over his budget and with providers who have unknown performance ratings, so he's prepared to take the chance with Exetel given the positive performance rating to date.
Luckily for Ella, at the time of writing there is a $30 a month plan offering unlimited broadband for ADSL2+ connection, which would be more than fast enough for her needs. If she signs up to a 24 month contract there are no set-up fees, but it will still require a modem. Luckily she can buy a ready-to-go modem for under $100 from the ISP. She's not sure about signing up to a contract, so elects to pay the $69 a month set-up fee.
And last but not least…
We take into account the service record of the provider, the technical support on offer and the contract terms. A cheap deal is no good to anyone if there’s no accountability when things go wrong, or if the fine print contains hidden costs.
A thought to leave you with
We're aware that price point is a really important consideration for seniors and even $5 extra a month is a big deal. We promise you than we'll never take that $5 for granted. There's a large variation in internet pricing offers, and bundled offers too, so it's a challenge to "sort the wheat from the chaff" and make sense of the smoke and mirrors that seem to come with internet marketing. We're here to find the best offer to suit your needs, for the best price.
Next week – What sort of computer should I be looking at?