Choosing a broadband plan shouldn’t mean spending hours crunching numbers and stressing over contracts. After all, the internet is a big part of your social life. And if you use your devices to connect with your friends, swap experiences and stories and organise fun stuff, why should shopping for a plan feel like such a chore? Luckily, there’s a couple of providers – both fairly fresh and new to the market – that are turning the tables on the often too-serious business of finding a broadband plan.
MATE Communicate emphasises the social aspect of the internet. They display big, colourful and friendly graphics across their website, use of the word “mate” in all its Australian-ness, and employ a no-fuss layout of their offerings and pans. All with a sense of humour along the way. Provider Tangerine Telecom, meanwhile, takes a similar approach. This time, with a nod to classic comic books and liberal splashes of orange throughout the site as you hunt down the right plan for you.
It’s thanks to the NBN that these companies exist at all. The national network that levels the playing field for providers old and new, big and small, has allowed smart new entries into what used to be a fairly uninteresting choice between a bunch of established companies. So how do the MATE and Tangerine broadband plans stack up?
A purely NBN based ISP with a shot of mobile phone on the side, the very orange Tangerine lays the basics out on the front page of their website with admirable simplicity. NBN broadband with no contract from $49 per month, or unlimited-data NBN plus unlimited-calls home phone from $59 a month.
This is the NBN, though – so you’ll be paying according to get the speed you want (and the speed your connection is able to achieve, in the case of Fibre to the Node). That “from” on the front page should already have made you assume they’re talking about the lowest speed tier.
For that price you get a 12/1 (12 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up) connection. For only $10 more, you can bump that up to a much more useful 50/20. The catch – which they’re totally up-front about – is that these prices are a 6-month introductory offer, after which it goes up by another $10. However, at that point you can downgrade to the lower speed if you like without penalty. In our opinion, even at the eventual higher price, going for 50/20 is still worth it if you’re interested in doing anything involving streaming.
Tangerine lets you hop between plans without penalty. Working out what your connection is capable of just became a lot less punishing. There are no contracts, and they even offer a 14-day free trial (most useful for FTTP customers) so you can road-test their service without paying a cent.
Unlimited local and national calls as well as calls to mobiles is an extra $10 a month. An absolute bargain if you still use a home phone a lot. It includes line rental, and you can keep your existing landline number even as you transition over to the NBN.
With a web site that reminds you of all the things that mates shouldn’t do to each other, the friendly and approachable MATE Communicate still does ADSL plans with a very simple price structure. $39/month in the city, $49 in the country, unlimited data and BYO modem (or buy one from them for $149). It doesn’t get much simpler than that. Not surprisingly, with ADSL very much now a transitional technology as the NBN continues to roll out. It’s admirable that they continue to supply it (with a free upgrade path to NBN) for those in areas that still face a long wait for the NBN installation truck to arrive.
On the NBN itself, meanwhile, MATE is right on the money with its range of speed choices and prices, with all plans offering unlimited data. Starting at $49 for 12/1 with no contract, most will want to bump up to the 50/20 plan for better streaming and uploading. It’s only 10 bucks more at $59 per month.
Those with faster connections (and those lucky fibre users!) will want head for the faster option – 100/40 for $89. Those prices sit on the lower end of what is a pretty narrow price scale for the top-end NBN speeds. The $89 plan in particular is good value, especially since it’s available (like all the MATE plans) with no contract, no setup fee and no fee to change plans. It’s BYO modem, though. And for the NBN, this matters, since if you’re on FTTN, FTTB or HFC you’ll need a modem that’s different to the one you might have hanging around from your ADSL days. MATE can sell you a quality Netcomm modem that handles it all for $149, pre-configured so you just plug it in and you’re online.
Both Tangerine and Mate are perfect examples of one of the key things the NBN was meant to achieve – to let more companies large and small enter the market and compete for your business, leading to the abolition of silliness like activation fees and contracts. Trying either of these fresh providers doesn’t lock you down to anything. If you’re not happy with the speed or service, you’re free to leave without paying anything extra. The glowing reviews for both across various websites, however, suggest that there’s a whole lot of people who either look good in Tangerine, or feel at home with their MATE.