Article updated August 2017 with the latest information on plans and pricing.
Downloading a lot of files?
You’re going to need better broadband.
For me, there’s very little in this world more annoying that a file that won’t download. Or won’t download fast enough. From app updates through to game purchases – waiting sucks.
You can see it. You can click it. Maybe the download even starts. But until it finishes – assuming it ever does – you’re left wanting something that’s officially out of reach.
It is perhaps the most frustrating feeling in the world.
What kind of files are we talking about?
On a professional front, I download a lot of PDFs of white papers, editorial and technical briefs and videos.
On a personal front, I download a lot of music, movies and TV shows. There are a fair few ebooks, not to mention a game or two – some Triple-A titles, some from indie developers. Steam sales – they get me every time.
Which downloads use the most data?
It depends on the individual files involved. For example, my games range from tiny downloads to massive monsters that take hours. The size depends on a few factors. These include files types, quality, and any compression rates that may be involved.
However, looking at the files I have on hand, there’s a pattern in the averages:
|File Type||File Sizes||Frequency of download||Monthly average|
|File Type: Game (various file types, zipped)||File Sizes: 13,000-50,000 MB||Frequency of download: Once every few months||Monthly average: 20 GB|
|File Type: Movie (MP4, 1.5 hours, 1080p)||File Sizes: 10,000-20,000 MB||Frequency of download: Once a fortnight||Monthly average: 30 GB|
|File Type: TV show (MP4, 30 min, 720p)||File Sizes: 200-300 MB||Frequency of download: A few times a week||Monthly average: 1 GB|
|File Type: Music file (MP3, 5 min, 128 kbps)||File Sizes: 4-12 MB||Frequency of download: Weekly||Monthly average: 2.5 GB|
|File Type: ebook/white paper (PDF)||File Sizes: 2-4 MB||Frequency of download: Daily||Monthly average: 0.25 GB|
So what do my download habits mean?
Perhaps most obviously, I need data. No data, no download.
How much depends on your usage. From the table above, I calculated that my downloads alone can account for 50-60 GB each month. That’s an average, and doesn’t include the data used up by daily browsing, Skype calls or streaming TV. Put together, the data I use each month can really add up! Because of this, I’m focusing on unlimited broadband plans.
As mentioned in my previous post on broadband for singles, it pays to avoid unstable connections. That’s why I try to steer clear of ADSL when the exchange is more than 2k away from me – the signal slows and can drop quite frequently. Cable is a good choice as long as it is available, and so is the NBN. As mentioned before, my preference remains 1. NBN 2. Cable 3. ADSL (as long as the ADSL exchange is nearby).
There is no fun in watching a file download meter stick at “25 minutes” for an hour. And if it is, maybe you’d also like to consider branching out into the competitive fields of watching paint dry or grass grow? So your connection’s speed – how fast the data moves from the exchange to my modem and vice versa – matters. I don’t have the time to wait around for work files to load. And this has also rubbed off in my personal life – I hate waiting for movies to start or games to download. I just want to do the thing!
This isn’t as important to me as speed and stability, but it’s still a big deal. Latency refers to the responsiveness of the connection – how quickly the server responds to my request. For work this matters when dealing with Skype or VoIP calls. And in my home life, this matters if I’m ever gaming online.
And of course, there’s the price. Having a terabyte of data available each month is meaningless if it means you can’t afford groceries anymore. I don’t need a phone line, and already have a modem, so I can save some money there.
And if you have more than one person in the house, you have their habits to contend with as well.
For the sake of simplicity, we’ll be focusing on broadband plans (rather than bundles) that feature unlimited downloads.
Dodo Unlimited (NBN for $59.90/month & ADSL for $29.90/month)
Living in a main metro area? Want cheap unlimited data? Then Dodo can help. However, I do have some concerns with availability and speed for ADSL – enough to sit it back at #5 despite the price. And speaking of the price? The Dodo deals for ADSL do not include line rental. So to get the total cost, maybe add on another $30 a month.
OPTUS UNLIMITED NBN/Cable/ADSL (NBN/Cable/ADSL for $80/month)
Fast becoming a regular feature of these reviews, Optus Broadband offers unlimited data across your choice of ADSL, cable or NBN services. Pick the best one in your area, and for $80 you can enjoy unlimited data, day and night, on a premium, tier-one telco network. The only thing holding it back from being number one is the price.
Bendigo Bank ADSL Basics (NBN for $58.95/month & ADSL for $39.95/month)
Making its first appearance, Bendigo Bank gets the seal of approval for two reasons. First, it offers a great deal – unlimited NBN and ADSL broadband available in most metro areas for under $60 a month. Second, the company has a history of putting their customers first. One example is that the rates shown here also cover a free NBN-ready modem. So if you ever have a problem with your service, you can be sure they’ll take it as seriously as you do.
Tangerine Telecom (NBN for $59.90/month)
While not the cheapest in the list, there is still a lot to go on. Tangerine is backed by some heavy hitters in the telco industry, and it shows in their service offerings. Decent connections, good speeds, the usual. However, the big deal here is the monthly contract. You can try it out wherever you are, and the daily downloads don’t work the way you want them to? Just call up, cancel and move on. The only issue I have in recommending Tangerine is that they don’t seem to offer ADSL services. So no NBN, no internet. And they lose points for that.
Barefoot Broadband (NBN for $59/month & ADSL for $49/month)
Branding themselves as “not your average Telco,”Barefoot stands out for three reasons Unlimited broadband plans on NBN and ADSL at good rates, excellent support and no lock-in contracts. This can be hugely appealing for those who are looking to test connections before committing to a provider long-term. There are no setup fees or connection costs for standard connections. It ticks every box – and that’s why they get the top spot.
The Top Five Broadband Deals For Everyday Downloads
|Deal||Data||Price ($/month)||Delivery||Contract types||Minimum total costs|
|Barefoot Broadband||Data: Unlimited||Price ($/month): $59/$49||Delivery: NBN/ADSL||Contract types: Monthly||Minimum total costs: $59 (NBN) / $49 (ADSL) over one month|
|Tangerine Telecom||Data: Unlimited||Price ($/month): $59||Delivery: NBN||Contract types: Monthly||Minimum total costs: $59 over one month|
|Bendigo Bank Broadband||Data: Unlimited||Price ($/month): $59.95/$49.95||Delivery: NBN/ADSL||Contract types: 24 months||Minimum total costs: $1438.80 (NBN) / $1198.80 (ADSL) over 24 months|
|Optus Unlimited||Data: Unlimited||Price ($/month): $80||Delivery: NBN/Cable/ADSL||Contract types: 24 months||Minimum total costs: $1920 (NBN) / $2045 (Cable/ADSL) over 24 months|
|Dodo Unlimited Metro||Data: Unlimited||Price ($/month): $64.90/$34.90||Delivery: NBN/ADSL||Contract types: 24 months||Minimum total costs: $1557.60 (NBN) / $837.60 (ADSL) over 24 months|