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Australia - Internet

As with many other industrialised countries there is a wide variety of choice when it comes to both the type of internet access that you have and the service provider. If you are in a relatively remote area the choice you have may not be as wide and you may just have to settle for what you can get. By mid-2010 Australia had more than 9 million internet subscribers and nearly 8 million of these were domestic households. Dial-up internet is still being used by some people but the number of those subscribing to this has dropped every year as more and more people are opting for broadband.

There are several internet sites which allow you to search all available internet service plans in order to find the one that is right for you. These include Internet Choice which lists packages available from 15 different providers.

One of the most well-known providers is Telstras Bigpond and others include AANet. Both providers are considered to be reliable and are very popular as they offer a wide choice of services and cover large parts of the country. Most providers offer contracts on a 12 or 18 month basis, although there are a few which have 6 month contracts available. Usually the longer the contract term the more cost effective the package is. Consumers are advised to be wary of packages which limit downloads as this can be expensive if you download more. Charges for excess can be very high and the small print on the contract should be checked. There are some providers in Australia who also offer extra usage if you use the internet during their off-peak hours. Off-peak can mean different things to different providers so this should also be checked.

Australia has an advisory organisation which works to promote safe internet use. This is known as NetAlert Limited and helps parents to ensure that their children are safe while using the internet.

There are many people now opting for wireless internet services. There are two options with wireless services. You can take out a contract for a set period of time and pay the same amount for your internet access each month or you can use a pre-payment service. The pre-payment service is a broadband dongle which can pick up the internet signal. This type of service does not allow you to go over your agreed usage for each payment period. Your service simply stops until you top up your plan. Wireless services such as this are available in most of the major cities and if you are in a remote area you can check with the provider to see if it is covered. This type of service depends upon a signal like a mobile phone signal and you should be prepared for the fact that in some areas the signal is poor.

Optus is one of the wireless broadband providers that have a very wide coverage but the service has experienced some problems in recent years. Their prices are not the most competitive but plans are reviewed all the time so it is important to check their website for the latest prices. Optus also expect you to pay out for the kit which is not included with any monthly payments.

Telstra also has wide network coverage and is considered to be a very reliable service, although they are also not the most competitively priced. The equipment you need to purchase in order to set up your internet service is a little more expensive than that offered by Optus.

Net Connect is part of the 3 group and you can pay high charges for roaming fees, although standard service charges are very competitive. The network has now merged with Vodafone which gives it a wider coverage. Most customers are expected to sign a 24 month contract but there are very low cost price plans, particularly for light users.

Vodafone began in Australia in 2005 and has grown rapidly. The service is considered to be reliable, even in remote areas and there are some very reasonably priced plans available.

Arranging connection is very easy, it is simply a call to the provider. For those who are having broadband installed for the first time in their home there may be a waiting time while an engineer’s visit is arranged. You may be asked to provide proof of ID and a utility bill to prove your address.

Those who do not have internet at home or on the move might want to consider using internet cafes. Most of the big cities have internet cafes but these are quite rare in remote areas.

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