There was a time, years ago, when the only choice Australian consumers had for a telecommunications provider were Telstra and Optus. When Primus entered the market in 1997, it was a comfortable duopoly with nobody around to shake things up. Primus started out offering an alternative phone service and by 1999, iPrimus arrived. It was an option for those wanting the convenience of a phone and internet bundle, at a much lower price.
As a provider, iPrimus Broadband
made one crucial step early on – they got their own broadband hardware into as many local phone exchanges as possible. They could then offer dedicated Primus services, bundling iPrimus broadband and Primus home phone – all without the cost of renting exchange capacity from Telstra
. At the time it was a pretty big deal. It reduced costs for customers, and gave iPrimus the chance to start building their own network of connections between the ISP and the exchanges that served their customers.
The result was reliable, fast broadband that pushed the limits of whatever speed of ADSL connection it was running on. Behind the scenes, iPrimus made sure their network was as fast and responsive as possible, hosting the major download providers in their own data centre and ensuring customers got fast access to popular websites and large downloads.
iPrimus was then bought by experienced network provider M2, who made further steps to speed up internet access. More recently, it was bought by the hugely respected top-tier network provider Vocus. Customers have benefited from reduced prices and a network with the same high quality service it’s offered for many years.
Today, iPrimus has broadband connections for NBN and ADSL, along with SIM-only mobile phone plans. By embracing the streaming TV age, iPrimus is about to offer TV services using the much-admired Fetch TV platform.When it comes to Australia’s NBN, iPrimus has made some interesting choices. The real price differential is the speed of your connection, rather than your amount of data. iPrimus will happily connect you to the new national network at what appears to be an incredibly low price, but those plans come with some heavy download restrictions making them impractical for all but the lightest users.
There’s three download-limit tiers and within each of those three NBN speed tiers. The download limit on the lowest tier is a punishing – 30GB a month. That may not sound too bad, but if you’re even a casual user of anything requiring a lot of data – from Netflix and Stan
to YouTube or Twitch – you’re going to feel the pinch very quickly. If you buy your games online, too – on Xbox, PS4 or PC – you’ll quickly find that a 30GB limit won’t even cover the download requirements of one game. That plan is very much for light users only – those who browse the web, comment on Facebook and get their visual entertainment from free-to-air TV
The next tier up has a 300GB limit – much more reasonable if you’re an occasional user who downloads games, movies, or watches Netflix. You can happily enjoy your favourite streaming shows, download games and do all the other stuff the internet has to offer and not touch 300GB of usage. If you’re a regular user, this may be the plan for you. You’ll still need to keep an eye on your data as modern media is more data-hungry than ever before.
Then there’s the top-tier plan with unlimited data. It’s very liberating to download or stream whatever you want and never worry about limits. iPrimus themselves highly recommend this plan for “high quality video content” like HD movies.
At this point it’s worth mentioning that iPrimus is totally upfront about all this – the 30GB plan is advertised in nice big text “for casual surfing and emailing” and the recommendation of the unlimited plan for HD video users is a solid one.
As always with the NBN, what you pay per month depends on your connection speed. At the low end, the 30GB plan running on the minimum 12/1 NBN connection (with that limit, you wouldn’t want it any faster) will cost $44.90/month. At the top end, a 100/40 connection with unlimited downloads is $109.90/month. That may sound a little more expensive than some competitor offerings, but iPrimus has some very real advantages. Their network speed in Australia is lightning-fast. Servers for Netflix, Stan, Blizzard, EA and many others are in data centres only a couple of hops away from your home connection, making access seamless and super-fast (for example; select a Netflix show on Apple TV and it’s in full HD from the start). Peak-time congestion is there (like it is for every ISP) but they manage it well, and having your 100 Mbps NBN connection slow to “only” 75 Mbps is something you won’t even notice.