Consumers making the compulsory switch to the NBN should be careful to avoid forking over higher fees for top-tier plans they don’t really need, internet service experts say.
The government is currently shutting down existing ADSL and traditional landline services as part of its multi-billion-dollar rollout of high-speed internet across the country. Telecom services based on the antiquated copper network will be completely discontinued by 2020, when the government says the NBN will reach 12 million homes.
Millions of Australians have yet to make the switch, with state-owned NBN Co. hoping to reach 5.4 million homes and businesses, covering almost half the population, by June.
Research shows, however, that Australians are paying significantly more for their internet plans after moving to the newer network, despite a wide range of more affordable options.
Last year, households spent an average of $77 each month to use the NBN, compared to $68 for those with ADSL, according to a survey carried out by consumer research firm Canstar Blue.
This was despite there being no noticeable cost difference between NBN and ADSL plans at the first and second speed tiers, suggesting that Australians were opting for the priciest premium packages.
As consumer comparison website WhistleOut recently put it: “In general, the NBN shouldn’t be more expensive, unless you want the fastest speeds.”
Canstar Blue editor Simon Downes told The New Daily that consumers making the switch should carefully weigh the pros and cons of each plan before splashing out on the highest-spec deals.
“The potential is there to end up spending a lot more than you previously did,” Mr Downes said, noting that high-speed and unlimited data plans can easily top $100 per month.
“I think the fact is when the NBN arrives in your area there is that temptation to upgrade your service to a level that perhaps you don’t need.”
Mr Downes said customers should be mindful of providers talking them into buying the most extravagant plans, such as those without download limits.
“They are dangling the carrot in front of consumers to pay an extra $10 a month, or however much it is, to upgrade to unlimited broadband, but the fact is they might not necessarily need it,” he said. “So you have to understand what you need and what you are willing to pay for, and when you start to ask those questions, then you are going to be in a position to actually find the deal that’s right for you.”
Luke Sutton, a spokesman for Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, said that customers shouldn’t be afraid to consider alternatives to their current provider when it came to make the change.
“There are a range of plans available over the NBN at different price points that will suit the needs of different consumers,” Mr Sutton said.
“Switching to the NBN is a good opportunity for consumers to consider what services they use and still need, and review the plans they are currently on. Consumers should shop around for a plan that suits their needs and their budget. They should look beyond what’s on offer from their current provider.”