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Review Summary

Overall - 95%
Plans - 90%
Extras - 70%
Value For Money - 99%

89%

Score

With an emphasis on quality over price-cutting – but still offering solid value – iPrimus is a great choice if you want the backbone of your broadband service fast and reliable.

User Rating: 3.5 ( 3 votes)

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.

NBN plans

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.
nbn iprimus
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.

ADSL

iPrimus still offers good old ADSL connections, and with no speed tiers to choose from (your speed depends on how far you are from the exchange, as well as the condition of your phone line). You’ve got a choice between the same three data limits – 30GB, 300GB or unlimited, with prices at $54.90, $69.90 and $79.90 respectively. Having done away with separate pricing for ADSL connections to non-iPrimus hardware, you know exactly what you’ll be paying regardless of whether or not your exchange has iPrimus hardware.

Home phone

NBN and ADSL connections both come with a landline number and “line rental” included. There’s also unlimited local and national calls (but not calls to mobiles). iPrimus supplies the NBN version of this service through a custom VOIP modem they provide with your connection. The modem is free if you agree to a two-year contract, otherwise there’s a small fee.

Naked!

While nobody really calls it “naked” broadband anymore (thankfully!), iPrimus Broadband offers you an ADSL service without the voice phone if you don’t need a home phone. How much it saves you depends on whether or not you’re using iPrimus exchange hardware. They recommend you get in touch with their sales team to find out what rate applies to you.

Fetch TV

fetch tv iprimus
While it’s yet to launch, iPrimus is preparing their network for Fetch TV support – something their sister company Dodo has been offering for a while now. Once it launches we’re expecting to see some new bundles – including the Fetch box and access to the service – watch this space.

The verdict

The technical quality of service offered by iPrimus has been superb for many years. They continue to provide a solid, reliable and fast service under their new Vocus ownership. iPrimus may not be the cheapest contender on the block, but their behind-the-scenes advantage of top-tier network access makes them a brilliant choice if you spend a lot of time on the internet.

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