The basics
Australia: Once you arrive

Setting up broadband and phone services in Australia

Cable provide a simple guide for international students arranging broadband internet and phone services once they've arrived in Australia.

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Australia is a place of extremes: while it’s the sixth biggest country in the world, it only ranks 52nd in global population tables. Whether you find yourself in crowded cities or isolated stretches of outback, you’re going to want to keep in touch with friends and family back home – so here’s how.

 

How do I get a mobile, landline or broadband deal in Australia?

As you’ll find when staying in most foreign countries, you’ll need a bank account in Australia before you can get any products or services on credit. The good news is that this is one of the things you can sort out before you arrive down under. Look online and you should be able find a number of different banks that let you set up a new account remotely, meaning you should be able to arrange your own broadband or phone quickly.

 

Who can I get broadband from in Australia?

It’s virtually impossible to provide a truly comprehensive list of broadband providers across Australia. With at least 130 different companies offering either fixed line or mobile broadband throughout the country, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.

You’ll quickly notice some very familiar names when you arrive in Australia and start looking for broadband options (both Virgin Media and Vodafone offer popular, widespread broadband packages). If you really want to embrace the Ozzie way of life however, then there are also an impressive number of providers with antipodean names (Matilda Internet, OzEmail and Dinkum Internet being just three examples).

Double check exactly what is available in the state or territory that you’ll be staying in (either Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania or the Northern Territory) and compare prices, speeds and data allowances before you sign. As a guide, the national average in Australia is around 5.5Mbps, so if you can find something that outperforms that, you’re likely to be on the right track.

 

What’s the best way for me to call home from Australia?

Although you’ll have more than 50 different mobile companies to choose from when looking for a phone deal, you’ll find that they’re all carried on one of three networks.

The largest in Australia is Telstra, which boasts around 13 million subscribers – that’s a 42% share of the cellular market. The second most popular network is provided by Optus, with the third coming from Vodafone. If you decide to stick with the most familiar of the three, you’ll also be able to pick up a SIM-only package pitched at tourists and new arrivals in the country. With this plan, you’ll benefit from calls home from as little as 4p per minute.

Another special option that you might not expect is the option of renting both a mobile phone and SIM from any number of specialist stores. You just pay a holding deposit (fully refunded when you return the phone) and top up your SIM as you use it.

 

What are my rights as a consumer in Australia?

There are largely comparable levels of consumer protection in Australia as you’ll find in the UK. Specifically, Australian Consumer Law (often shortened to ACL) offers safeguards for both residents of and visitors to the country. In a similar way to UK consumer law, the ACL protects your rights when purchasing any goods or services, either online, over the phone or in person.

If things do go wrong, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is the place to go to for complaints. The organisation guarantees that you receive fair treatment, get clear and accurate information and receive contracts that are free of any hidden costs or nasty surprises. Under the law, businesses must be honest and fair to consumers, provide clear information about the products and services they offer and have clear and easy to understand contracts.

 

Is there anything else I should know?

There are a number of organisations, acronyms and abbreviations that are useful to know about before you arrive in Australia. Like Ofcom in the UK, the Australian Communications Authority (ACA) regulates telecoms in the country and provides guidelines and legislation that companies must adhere to. TIO (or the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman) works alongside the ACA as an independent go-between for consumers.

Should you sign up for ‘Naked Broadband’, you’ll find you get an internet connection without a landline or TV package included. From a mobile phone point of view, PostPaid is the Australian version of Pay Monthly contracts, while PrePaid is the equivalent of Pay-As-You-Go.

Finally, to ensure you’re getting a good service, USO (the Universal Service Obligation) is an industry wide standard that you could expect to have a ‘reasonably accessible’ phone service – wherever you are in Australia.

 

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About Author

Dean Reilly is the news editor of Cable.co.uk, and has been writing about technology since launching the UK's first MP3 magazine in 1999. His pastimes are mostly geeky, including comic books, movies and video games.

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