Both Mate and Barefoot are local Internet providers offering unlimited data and no lock-in contracts. Both offer a range of NBN speed tiers, as well as ADSL2+ connections. And both have locally-based service centres. So how do their solutions stack up? What’s the service quality like? What about their subscription prices? Are there any features that put one ahead of the other? Read on to find out how these two Internet services compare!
Comparing Mate and Barefoot
Barefoot Broadband was registered back in 2009, with a promise to “be different from your average telco.”
They offered Australians attractive ADSL2+ Internet plans at a reasonable cost, with no lock-in contracts. Mate Communicate launched later, in 2015, delivering the same kinds of services and plans, but with a relaxed attitude that resonated with many people who find fixed-term plans and cancellation fees distasteful.
Since then, both broadband telcos have expanded their offerings, ditching data caps in favour of unlimited broadband plans, while also streamlining their connection plans. Neither of these companies charge activation fees or plan-change fees, and all plans are month-to-month.
So what makes them different?
This is an area that can make or break a telco. However, both Mate and Barefoot stand solidly in the face of this test by offering truly exceptional customer service options.
First, there is the “Leave us a message” option that’s present on every page on both their sites. This lets you leave a quick message for the service centre staff to read and reply to.
More traditional email addresses are readily available on their Contact pages, along with phone numbers to their individual call centres. Both providers state proudly that their service centres are “Aussie-based” with “no offshore support” — meaning you can call up with the confidence that your call will not end up overseas. The operating hours for these centres are 8:30 AM to 7 PM, Monday to Saturday — leaving Sundays and public holidays as the only days they’re closed.
You can also get in touch via Facebook and Twitter. On these platforms Mate is the more active of the two, offering daily posts as well as responding to customer enquiries on both channels.
For those of us who like sending snail mail, both companies also have a PO Box available. And there’s a sneaky surprise waiting there…
Ease of Use
Mate keeps its broadband offerings on separate pages, with ADSL and NBN plans accessible through buttons on the main page and the site navigation bar. You can toggle between Internet plans and phone bundles on these pages, which isn’t a big hassle — but it would be nice to have it all on one page.
On the other hand, Barefoot makes it easy to sign up for their Internet plans. The site features a simple toggle to switch between ADSL and NBN offerings, with another switch to compare connection plans with home-phone bundles across all your options.
Plans and Packages
Both Mate and Barefoot offer NBN connections across the country, where available. Where the NBN has yet to reach, they offer ADSL. The sign-up processes for both services offer an address search that takes the guesswork out of checking which services are available in your area.
If you’re on ADSL, you will need an active phone line. Their standalone ADSL plans require you to be paying landline rental for an existing phone line on the Telstra network. You would then effectively pay two separate bills — one for your phone line and one for your ADSL subscription. If you are not paying line rental already with another provider, then you are not eligible for an ADSL standalone plan with either company. Instead, they require you to sign on with an ADSL bundle that includes line rental.
As the NBN becomes available in your area, both companies will let you change over to an NBN plan at no additional cost.
Perks and Promotions
Again, both Mate and Barefoot are neck-and-neck. Not only do they both offer unlimited data — their prices are evenly matched across all the services they provide.
For example, standalone ADSL services start at $49/month for both City Mates and Metro Ultra services, and $59/month for both Country Mates and Regional Ultra services. In both cases, the differences in service availability are largely to do with where you want your service connected. If you want calls included with your plan, that’s just $20/month more for the City or Metro plans, and $40/month more for the Country or Regional plans.
If you’re planning on taking up either Mate or Barefoot on their ADSL bundle offers — and you have an existing landline on the Telstra network — it may be possible to transfer your number to your new service.
You’ll find the same kind of deals with NBN services. All entry-level NBN 12 plans are just $59/month, with uncapped data, no setup fees, no activation costs, and no plan change fees. Both companies allow you to BYO modem, with the choice of buying a pre-configured NBN-ready modem outright from the providers for $149.
On the high end, both Mate and Barefoot have an NBN 100 connection plan bundled with unlimited local, national, and mobile calls within Australia. All for $108/month.
As an interesting side-note, these two providers have promotions available on all their offers. New Mate and Barefoot customers can take off $10/month from the cost of their Internet plans for the first six months of their service — a potential total savings of $60.
Choosing A Broadband Plan
This is a truly impossible task. Both companies offer the exact same products at the same rates, keep their call centres local, and even keep the same opening hours on their support centres.
Have you guessed why? Taking a look at the PO Box addresses mentioned above will answer it. They share a PO Box. Because they’re the same company.
According to our review, the only real points of difference are that Barefoot was founded first, and Mate is more active on social media. So does it matter which company you go with?
In our view, there’s no difference. Mate seems to position themselves towards attracting the younger market, who are averse to contracts, while Barefoot is more focused on older customers who just want hassle-free broadband. Otherwise, the prices, products and even call centre services they provide are perfectly even. This may change over time as market offerings diversify and a more niche focus becomes favourable. But for now, they’re both great options.