These days, it’s pretty much impossible to live life without phone and internet access as we do almost everything online. It’s how we do our banking, research purchases, find out where to go and how to get there, keep in touch with friends and loved ones, conduct business, exchange photos, discover what’s around us and so much more.
So setting up phone and internet accounts has got to be high on the list of priorities when you arrive in Australia. Here are our tips to get connected.
A really smart way to investigate providers when setting up phone and internet accounts is to use the Canstar Blue website. It provides a 5-star rating program for a range of criteria including:
You will be able to compare phone and internet plans using consistent criteria and specifications.
In regards to internet, you may also need to sign up for a landline telephone. Like in most developed countries, the installation of landline telephones to places of residences is dropping. However, you may also wish to set up a landline telephone account if you can only access ADSL internet and not cable/NBN. You will need to have a phone line so the ADSL connection can go through it.
You may also wish to have a landline installed if you have children who don’t have a mobile phone who may need to call emergency services (000 or triple zero) in the event of an accident to summon the police, fire department or ambulance.
If you’re buying a pre-paid sim card or mobile internet access, you will be able to just buy this from a retailer without identification.
For phone and internet contracts, every consumer must meet eligibility requirements before setting up phone and internet accounts. You will normally be asked to present documents such as: bank statements, student card, Medicare card (if you’re eligible for one), passport or driver’s license.
For a contract, you will probably have to provide 100 points of ID and each provider will have their own assessment of how many points each of those documents satisfies.
The first thing you’ll need is an Australian SIM card connected to one of the local networks – which are currently run by Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. There are other companies where you can get SIM cards from but they all use one of these three mobile phone networks.
You can get hold of SIM cards and phones as soon as you turn up at the airport if you want to be connected immediately without roaming – this will be on a prepaid basis. Otherwise, if you want to find a mobile phone company, you can simply walk into a shopping mall or strip shop where there is usually more than one choice.
Depending on how long you will be staying in Australia, you may need to choose a plan that is month by month, without a contract. If you are planning on staying longer in Australia, then you will be more inclined to sign up for a contract. They are usually for 24 months but some phone account providers offer shorter terms. Generally speaking, contracts offer cheaper monthly pricing so you can obtain a better deal. Or, you can choose a prepaid mobile phone account that you top up as you use data and calls.
What plan you choose will depend on your needs. For many overseas visitors, being able to call their home country inexpensively is vital. Not too many years ago, the best way to call overseas was by purchasing a pre-paid international calling card. Today, those cards are best for people only staying a short while. When setting up your phone account, you can choose ‘high international usage’ as one of your must-have items. There are mobile phone plans that provide call costs as low as one cent per minute to specific destination countries.
You will also need to consider how much data you may need, depending on your usage habits. You might be the type who prefers using Wi-Fi as much as possible to keep data costs down, or you may wish to have as much data as you want on the go.
If you’re renting in Australia and require the internet at home, when trying to find the right internet service provider for you, it’s easiest to compare offers online (you may wish to do this before you arrive) and then contact the one you think is right for you.
Today there is so much competition among providers that comparison websites have been set up to make it incredibly easy for consumers to decide. One of them is Whistle Out, where you can do all your research in one place. They enable you to search more than 3,000 broadband plans to get the best deal at the best price.
All you need to do is enter your local area, the type of plan you want, how much data you need and what kind of bundling option you prefer. You might also like to try Compare Broadband as well.
There are internet accounts that provide unlimited data so you can do better than phone home; you can set up a video connection via FaceTime, Skype, Facebook video chat or any number of other video calling services. If you are lucky enough to live in an area that is serviced by the NBN (National Broadband Network), then your connection will give you the highest speeds in the country and your video calls will be clear and sharp. Internet providers offer different downloads speeds at different price points, so assess what you require before you make your choice.
As with mobile phone plans, internet contracts may provide a cheaper cost per month if you’re planning to stay in Australia for an extended period of time. Otherwise, you may just wish to opt for a ‘no contract broadband plan’.
To find out which providers are offering ‘no contract broadband plans’, visit Compare Broadband. If you would like to use prepaid mobile broadband, you can purchase a range of devices from suppliers such as Telstra, Optus, Vodafone or Dodo, among others. Each offers its own packages, data capacity, bonus data and top-up methods.
Nobody wants to be out of touch, wherever they are. Be sure that you know exactly what you need from your phone and internet accounts, do your research and ask as many questions as you can, before signing up for anything. And if you experience difficulties paying for your services, simply contact your provider and they will help by setting you up on a payment plan.
Happy chatting and web-surfing!