It’s a streaming world these days – and fans of quality TV and movies have never had it so good! Gone are the days of flicking through the channels hoping to run across something that grabbed your interest. If you loved a show, you had to be home to watch it, remember to record it, or just miss out. It seems so primitive now.
We’re really spoilt for choice these days – and at a cost which is relatively cheap. When Stan arrived in Australia with Netflix coming in hot on its heels, the way we watch TV was changed forever – and oh boy, didn’t our broadband plans know it!
Stream All Things, Use All the Data
Suddenly we’re streaming everything. Dark dramas like Black Mirror and Mindhunter or acclaimed award-winners like The Crown and Orange is the New Black on Netflix. Cutting-edge action comedy like Get Shorty, the poignant Jim Carrey comedy-drama Kidding or the weirdness of Twin Peaks on Stan. Brilliant sci-fi drama like The Man in the High Castle on Amazon Prime. And if you’re signed up with Foxtel, you can stream a vast array of shows and movies, including the entire HBO catalogue – Game of Thrones, Westworld, Big Little Lies and so much more, as well as thousands of movies.
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What’s on the Menu?
There’s now millions of Australians using streaming services every day for their TV and movie entertainment. The content each service has to offer is continually evolving and changing – there are new arrivals almost every day.
Just working out what shows and movies are on what service can be an almost impossible task since their web sites are designed more around exploration – not a bad thing in itself, but what if you want to know exactly what’s on offer on each individual service? Luckily, we’ve got that covered.
Netflix’s vast range of content alongside its original movies and shows keeps people coming back for more, with people constantly talking about what they’ve been watching on the world’s biggest streaming service.
The Demands of Data
All this streaming uses data, obviously. And despite massive advances made in compressing high quality video, streaming can still use a lot of data. If you spend any time with your favourite shows and movies on Netflix, Stan, Amazon Prime or even Foxtel from Telstra (where you get free streaming access to almost everything they have to offer, in crisp HD) then you’ll have realised long ago that your cheap “works most of the time” broadband simply isn’t gonna cut it. That 100GB monthly download limit seemed like so much data, until streaming arrived to eat it all in days. These days, you want a broadband plan that offers unlimited data, so you can stop stressing.
One of the most important things to remember about any streaming service is that no matter what you watch, it’s going to consume part of that monthly download limit – and sometimes to quite a hefty amount. The big streaming services like Netflix, Stan and Amazon have spent a lot of effort in trying to limit the amount of download data their streams use, and the actual download speed varies not just between shows, but even between episodes. Services like Netflix even have multiple tiers of download speed for each quality level (HD, 4K etc) so it can seamlessly adapt to your connection without interruptions.
So it’s no longer easy to quote even a rough estimate of how much data you’ll use per hour – but as a very rough ballpark, if you’re viewing at home in 1080p HD, you can expect to be using around 3GB of data per hour. 4K streaming of course uses a lot more – anywhere from 7GB to 10GB per hour.
And now we’re in the age of mobile phones that support HD video and above, it’s good to be wise to those numbers. Because while 3GB per hour might not mean much on your home broadband’s data limit (if it has one), on mobile, those shows are going to chew up your monthly allowance in half an evening. For mobile, always download shows over Wi-Fi first – the big streaming services now all allow this.
The Need for Streaming Speed
Of course, there’s also that annoying problem with streaming that’s so often complained about – buffering. If you sit down to stream your favourite stuff of an evening and find that it keeps stopping and starting, trying to stream far enough ahead to make things seamless but failing, you may be a victim of the dreaded “peak hour slowdown”. Basically, your internet provider has signed up too many users and not paid for enough capacity to serve them all – so when a whole bunch of users all get online and start streaming stuff, a data traffic jam happens and everyone has a bad time.
Streaming in HD or 4K might come with vague speed recommendations – but don’t think that just because they say you should have a connection of 7Mbps to stream HD that it’ll be guaranteed problem-free.
NBN Speed Tiers and Streaming
As you may have seen when browsing providers, the NBN divides plans up into “speed tiers” which you, as the customer, get to choose from. This is probably the most important decision you’ll make when it comes to your broadband plan if you’re planning on doing a lot of streaming. The recommended speeds quoted by providers like we mentioned above aren’t the whole story, either. All broadband connections have overhead that uses data of its own, you never get the full speed of your connection all the time, and anything else happening on the connection can cause streaming video to buffer or drop in quality.
With that in mind, we’d recommend that you ignore NBN plans at the NBN 12 speed unless price is really an issue. NBN 25 and up will be fine, though if multiple household members are going to stream at the same time, aim for NBN 50 instead. The golden rule of streaming is that you can never have too much speed – or too much data.
NBN 12: Single user, streaming to web browser or tablet. HD streaming possible but not guaranteed.
NBN 25: Single user, streaming to high quality devices lie smart TVs and streaming boxes. Problem-free HD and 4K streaming.
NBN 50: Multiple users – a family or share house with several people watching streaming content at one time. HD and 4K streaming to multiple devices at once.
NBN 100: Able to handle anything streaming services can throw at you, to multiple users while others are downloading or uploading files or doing work. Very fast, but expensive and not available on all connections.
The best way to solve streaming pain is simply to choose the right internet provider and get yourself a broadband plan that’s designed with streaming and entertainment in mind. In many cases, that can be a real win for you as the customer. There’s some great bundles out there which give you everything you need, from a fast and reliable broadband connection to the hardware which lets you stream like a champion.
For home, then, you’ll want to be looking at bundles and plans with unlimited downloads and fast speeds as key features. Let’s take a look at some of the best bundles currently on offer, especially for streaming.
How to Bundle Your Broadband with Streaming TV
Southern Phone Unlimited Broadband Turbo
There’s lots of flashy advertising and big names being thrown around in advertising for broadband plans and bundles, and you’ll be all too familiar with most of the big players. But that doesn’t mean you should just opt for the provider with the most familiar name – not when there’s an alternative around that’s generating incredible word-of-mouth buzz for some very good reasons.
Southern Broadband are known for their commitment to rural and regional areas. Their profits go back into these communities, while their call centre is based in regional NSW. While this is a great reason to go with Southern, their broadband offerings are pretty crash hot too. Southern Phone Unlimited Broadband Turbo gives you unlimited data on the NBN50 speed tier, speeds that will not flinch when it comes to streaming.
For unlimited internet at top speeds – and for a company that invests considerable money linking some of the more remote areas of our wide brown land – it may then be somewhat surprising to learn that the plans are also great value. The Southern Phone Unlimited Broadband Turbo plan is on the NBN network and will set you back a cool $70 per month. If the NBN network isn’t available where you are, then try $70 per month for their ADSL Large plan with a 1000GB limit – or the ADSL Unlimited plan is only $80 per month.
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Boost your speed with Tangerine
Tangerine are known for their juicy value – and their citrus-style marketing campaign. But they are by no means a gimmicky or ‘cheap’ provider when it comes to quality. For streamers or the stream-curious, Tangerine are a great option. Their XXL Speed Boost plan will cost you $69.90 for the first six months – before rising to $79.90 thereafter. For that, you’ll get yourself on the NBN100 speed tier, which is about as good as it gets. Although that deal packs a punch and might start eating into your precious data, don’t worry – you’ve got unlimited downloads!
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Telstra Broadband – Unlimited + Streaming bundle
As Australia’s largest communications company – with a vast network as the foundation for everything they do – Telstra has long been one of the go-to companies for fast, reliable broadband. The dreaded peak-hour slowdown was never an issue for Telstra customers, since the company actively monitors capacity on their network and tweaks things to make sure your broadband performance is smooth and fast all day long.
This bundle, with unlimited downloads and configured on the 50/20 speed tier, comes with a very nice bonus – the well-liked Telstra TV 3 box, which will take care of all your streaming needs. Netflix, Stan, and of course, Foxtel Now. And just to make sure you’ve got plenty of stuff to stream, you get $125 worth of Telstra TV Box Office credits bundled in as well. With the Telstra TV box usually priced at $216, you don’t need to be a
Another addition to Telstra bundles is the Telstra
The Unlimited + Telstra TV bundle, on a 24-month contract, includes a home phone line with unlimited local, national and mobile calls – so when you factor the usual cost of a home phone into the equation it’s a pretty stunning deal for fast broadband with no data limit.
Get Telstra’s Broadband Bundle
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Which is the best of the bunch? It really depends on your specific needs. With any plan – for TV, phone or broadband – the first step is to understand what you yourself want and go from there. Once this is done, the research process can begin! All the above bundles will serve you extremely well when it comes to streaming all the many and varied services that we now subscribe to – as well as the free ones like YouTube and Twitch.
For sheer speed and quality – as well as access to a bunch of exclusive content (much of which comes data free) – we can’t go past Telstra. Telstra get you direct access to Foxtel Now, Stan and Netflix as well as Telstra TV, meaning you’re entertainment options are multiplied. Their extensive network means you won’t suffer from buffering, while you can rest assured you’re with the biggest and most experienced company in Australia.