Naked ADSL (or Naked DSL) refers to a broadband service that can be set up on a phone line that doesn't have a phone service attached to it. This means that Naked ADSL allows you to apply for a broadband connection even if you don't have a phone number. This is handy if you've just moved in to a new house or apartment, or if you rarely use your home phone for local or international calls. To get Naked ADSL, all you need is the physical copper line coming into your dwelling from the telephone exchange. This is referred to as a 'vacant copper pair', as it does not have a phone service on it.
Naked ADSL benefits
The benefits of Naked ADSL are that you won't have to pay line rental — this cost is factored in to the Naked ADSL plan by the Internet Service Provider (ISP) — it can be set up quickly, and you won't have to deal with Telstra to get your phone line up and running.
When ISPs flaunt the fact that there is no line rental charge for Naked ADSL, it is somewhat misleading, as the ISPs are charged a rental fee for the copper line by Telstra and this is passed on to consumers in the price of the Naked ADSL plan. However, in many cases it still works out to be cheaper than a traditional broadband plan with a typical Telstra phone line rental fee. This is especially true considering that Telstra does not allow users to stay on its lowest line rental plan (which is $20.95 for the HomeLine Budget plan) if they will be using an ISP other than BigPond. If your Telstra line will be used with a broadband account from another ISP (such as iiNet, for example), then Telstra will charge you $27.95 as the minimum line rental cost in its HomeLine Complete plan. This can be avoided with Naked ADSL.
Naked ADSL downsides
There are a couple of downsides. The main downside is that you won't be able to use your regular phone to make calls, and this includes 000 emergency calls. Instead, you will have to use a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) service. VoIP calls are much cheaper than regular landline calls, especially if you are calling overseas. Many ISPs offer a VoIP account for a small fee (or for free) with a Naked ADSL service. However, if the power goes out your modem and router won't work, so you won't be able to make any calls. This isn't seen as a major drawback these days because most people own mobile phones. In addition, many people tend to have cordless phones that rely on a powered base station anyway, and so can't be used in the event of a blackout.
Because Naked ADSL uses a phone line without a dial tone, you can't use a regular fax machine (which needs a dial tone). Faxes cannot be sent over VoIP reliably due to data compression. Some VoIP providers, such as Engin, have trialled a fax service over VoIP, but it has proved to be unreliable. If your business still relies on faxes, and you also want to make the switch to Naked ADSL and VoIP, then you can look into a Web-based fax service (such as Utbox) that sends faxes for you and also allows you to receive them via e-mail.
Another downside of Naked DSL is that not everyone can get it. A key requirement is that the telephone exchange to which your copper line is attached is equipped with the necessary hardware, called DSLAMs (digital subscriber line multiplexer — they facilitate fast ADSL2+ speeds), from your chosen ISP. If you apply for a Naked ADSL account with your chosen ISP and it doesn't have its own DSLAMs in your telephone exchange, then you will not be able to get Naked ADSL with that ISP. Your options then are to choose another ISP that offers Naked ADSL in your area or to get a regular broadband account and pay a line rental fee to Telstra.
Value for money
There's no doubt that Naked ADSL is often good value for money, as you will only have to pay the ISP for the plan that you are on. For example, a regular ADSL2+ plan from iiNet, which costs $69.95 per month and provides a total of 45GB of data allowance, really costs you $97.90 when you factor in line rental. If you were to choose a Naked ADSL plan for around $90, you would get 100GB of data allowance. Or, if you wanted to only spend $69.95, then you would get 35GB of data allowance. At the same price you lose some of your quota compared to a regular ADSL2+ plan, but you have to consider whether another 10GB is worth the extra $27.95 you are paying for it.
It's also worth pointing out that if you choose to go with iiNet, uploads will also count as part of your quota. This is a conscious business decision by iiNet, which has realised that uploads form a large part of network traffic. If this will affect your usage patterns (for example if you are a heavy YouTube uploader or use your home computer remotely over the Internet), it's worth looking around for an ISP that only counts download traffic as part of its quota. With most ISPs if you go over your quota your speed will be shaped so that you won't be able to download as fast as you can normally. Some ISPs allow you to purchase more data if you breach your monthly quota (MyNetFone is one company that has announced it will be offering such a service on its Naked ADSL plans).
Some ISPs have 'free' zones; data from these zones does not count towards your monthly quota, whether it be streaming video or music, or data between users using the same ISP. iiNet, for example, allows users to watch ABC's iView channels without it chewing up any of the monthly data allowance.
Another consideration is whether the data is offered in one block or whether it is split up into peak and off-peak times. Some plans allow you use the majority of data in the off-peak period, which is usually overnight (the time it starts varies depending on the ISP). Others allow the greater portion of data to be used in peak times. If you'll be using the Internet mostly during the day, it's worth considering a plan that does not have separate peak and off-peak data allowances (such as Internode), or that more data is offered during the day than at night.
Naked ADSL speed
Naked ADSL runs at ADSL2+ speeds (because it is connected to ADSL2+ enabled equipment at the telephone exchange), which means you can get anywhere from 1.5Mbps (megabits per second) to 24Mbps on your line. The speed you get will vary due to the condition of your copper wire and how far away it is from the telephone exchange. The further away it is, the slower your speed is likely to be. Some ISPs say that speeds will suffer greatly (or you might not be able to get the service at all) if the copper line is more than 4km long, while other ISPs say they can supply fast speeds up to 7km (Internode is one such ISP). The distance from your home to the exchange is not a good indicator of the length of your copper wire, as it is not usually a direct path between your dwelling and the exchange. When selecting a Naked ADSL plan, you won't need to pick a speed; all plans will work at up to ADSL2+ speeds. All you will have to select is the data allowance that you require per month.
The cost of setting up your Naked ADSL account can be a deal breaker in some instances, as it can range from $40 up to $240 depending on the ISP. Some ISPs discount (or waive) the set-up fee if you opt for a 24-month plan; this is a good option if you own your home and know that you won't have to move in 12 months' time. The set-up cost covers the call-out fee for a technician to enable the connection at the telephone exchange.
Any ADSL modem can work with a Naked ADSL account, and you can either supply your own modem or purchase one from your ISP at the time you sign up for your account. If you use an ADSL1 modem, then the maximum speed you can reach will be 8Mbps; if you use an ADSL2+ modem, your modem will be able to support speeds up to 24Mbps. Unlike a regular ADSL2+ connection, you won't have to use any filters on your phone line, as the modem will be the only device on it (filters are only required on regular phone lines between the line and your home phone). If you plan to use VoIP, then you will need either a modem with a built-in VoIP function, or a separate analog telephone attachment (ATA), which plugs in to your ADSL router and allows you to use VoIP with any regular phone.