Super broadband plans for heavy downloaders

Get a plan and data quota to suit your needs

Australian broadband plans are cheaper and offer better value than ever before. Gone are the days of data quotas measured in the megabytes: five gigabyte (GB) plans are cheap as chips and plans with 160GB quotas now cost well below $100 per month. Of course, the Internet has changed too; we're downloading more music, photos and movies (both legitimately and illegitimately) from any number of Web sites, online stores and peer-to-peer services. As quotas have grown, so has our desire for more data.

Many users can get by with a data quota of 20 to 30GB for email, Internet browsing and watching YouTube. However, there are users who will undoubtedly need in excess of 100GB for heavy Internet access like downloading movies; a two hour high-definition movie from the iTunes Store weighs in at 4GB, for example. If you have two or more heavy Internet users on the same connection, the need for a large download quota is even greater.

Fortunately, enthusiast broadband plans are far more affordable than they used to be. All the major Internet service providers (ISPs) around Australia offer plans with quotas of more than 80GB per month. Many even offer unmetered content, which means you can download files or stream media from specific servers without adding to your cap.

We have compiled the best value plans for enthusiasts from some of the major ISPs, allowing you to compare and contrast how they balance against each other.

ADSL2+ Plans
ISP Plan Name Price
(per month)
Off-Peak Period Shaped/
Excess Charges
Uploads Counted? Unmetered Content
AAPT Entertainment Bundle $99.95 Unlimited N/A None No $50 worth music
Adam Internet AdamDirect Ultra $109.95 80 peak +
80 off-peak
12am-8am Shaped (64Kbps) No ABC iView, TiVo, Australia Live TV
Exetel NF/23BYO Line $50 70 peak +
60 off-peak
12am-12pm 50c per GB No None
iiNet broadband2 home 6
(bundled with phone)
$129.90 75 peak +
75 off-peak
1am-9am Shaped (128Kbps) No iiNet Freezone
(ABC iView, iTunes Store, Xbox Live and more)
broadband2 home 7
(bundled with phone)
$159.90 90 peak +
90 off-peak
1am-9am Shaped (128Kbps) No iiNet Freezone
(ABC iView, iTunes Store, Xbox Live and more)
Naked Home 5
(Naked DSL)
$89.95 60 peak +
60 off-peak
1am-9am Shaped (128Kbps) Yes iiNet Freezone
(ABC iView, iTunes Store, Xbox Live and more)
Naked Home 6
(Naked DSL)
$119.95 75 peak +
75 off-peak
1am-9am Shaped (128Kbps) Yes iiNet Freezone
(ABC iView, iTunes Store, Xbox Live and more)
Internode Home-Extreme-100 $129.95 100 N/A Shaped (64Kbps) No ABC iView, TiVo, Steam, Hosted Downloads
(Naked DSL)
$139.95 100 N/A Shaped (64Kbps) No ABC iView, TiVo, Steam, Hosted Downloads
Home-Extreme-200 $179.95 200 N/A Shaped (64Kbps) No ABC iView, TiVo, Steam, Hosted Downloads
(Naked DSL)
$199.95 200 N/A Shaped (64Kbps) No ABC iView, TiVo, Steam, Hosted Downloads
iPrimus ADSL2+ Kahuna Plus $49.95 65 peak +
65 off-peak
2am-10am Shaped (64Kbps) Yes IPGN gaming network
ADSL2+ Big Kahuna $89.95 40 peak +
160 off-peak
12am-12pm Shaped (64Kbps) Yes IPGN gaming network
Optus Naked Broadband $70 30 peak +
60 off-peak
12am-12pm Shaped (128Kbps) Yes None
Telstra BigPond BigPond Liberty 100GB
(Phone bundled)
$129.95 100 N/A Shaped (64Kbps) No BigPond Movies, Games and Music
BigPond Liberty 200GB
(Phone bundled)
$179.95 200 N/A Shaped (64Kbps) No BigPond Movies, Games and Music
TPG Internet Super Fast Medium $59.99 70 peak +
60 off-peak
2am-8am Shaped (512Kbps) No TPG IPTV
Super Fast Heavy $69.99 80 peak +
80 off-peak
3.30am-8.30am Shaped (512Kbps) No TPG IPTV
Super Fast Premium+ $129.99 150 N/A Shaped (1024Kbps) No TPG IPTV
Naked ADSL2+ 160GB
(VoIP optional)
$79.99 80 peak +
80 off-peak
3.30am-8.30am Shaped (512Kbps) No TPG IPTV

When it comes to raw data quota, AAPT undoubtedly offers the best value with no limited data quota or speed throttling, though the ISP still exercises a fair use policy on its users. TPG Internet falls in second, offering the best value with its 160GB Super Fast Heavy plan for $69.99 per month. If you do exceed your monthly quota, a 512Kbps shaping speed means you can still browse the Internet and check your e-mail while capped (without banging your head against the wall, that is). However, apart from a buggy IPTV system, the TPG plan offers no unmetered content.

Telstra, iiNet and Internode all offer very tempting unmetered content packages. Telstra provides quota-free access to the comprehensive BigPond Movies and Music collection. Both iiNet and Internode users get unmetered access to iView, a great way to catch up on any of the ABC shows you might have missed. Depending on which ISP you pick, you can also download games from Steam and Xbox Live, or access TiVo data and even the iTunes Store without making a dent in your quota. Not everyone uses these services of course, but if you do, it's definitely worth making note when choosing a broadband plan.

It is also vital to ensure any off-peak quotas suit your lifestyle. Some ISPs, like TPG, offer a relatively narrow window in which to effectively use up half your quota. This is fine if you're used to scheduling downloads, but it's unreasonable to wake up at 3.30am just so you can squeeze every gram of value out of your plan. Optus and Exetel offer wider windows in which to use this download quota, though both offer poorer value caps in comparison to other ISPs.

Uploads are increasingly being counted towards data quotas by ISPs, often without telling customers; Optus, Telstra and iiNet's naked DSL plans are some examples. For peer-to-peer downloaders, this is especially troubling, as uploading is an often unavoidable part of the process. If you do need to upload large amounts for whatever reason, remember to steer clear of these plans.

When signing up for a broadband plan, see if you can bundle in any services or equipment. ISPs will often provide discounts or, in the case of iiNet, better download quotas, if you bundle a phone, VoIP plan or other service with the same account. You may even get a free modem or router, or free installation out of the deal.

It is also worth checking your plan regularly to see if you can upgrade to a better value option from your service provider. Though ISPs regularly release new plans, you won't be upgraded to them unless you ask.

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James Hutchinson

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