Steps to Find the Right ADSL or ADSL2+ Broadband Plan Online
Broadband internet is an accepted part of daily life for many of us – as much a part of our routine as knowing our coffee will be in the kitchen in the morning, or our car will be in the driveway when we leave for work. However, you know that your morning coffee is going to have the best taste and pick-me-up, because you’ve drunk your way through the best brands to find the one which you like the best, and you know your car is not only waiting for you, but will get you to work, safely, reliably and comfortably, because you took a number of models for a test drive before you drove this one home.
Top ADSL Plans Available
What Broadband are you looking for?
Therefore, unless you put the same effort and care into choosing the best ADSL internet plan, can you really rely on your broadband connection to be there when you need it to check the weather as you’re getting dressed, make a bank transfer so you have enough money for lunch, or connect with an old friend as you relax on the couch in the evening.
So rather than taking your broadband internet for granted, and skipping over some of the finer connection or plan details, start your research into ADSL broadband plans, and find out how you can get the best plan for you.
What is ADSL?
The acronym ADSL stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, which is a technology which operates through a previously unused part of your copper phone line. As phone calls tend to use the frequency from 0 KHz to 4 KHz, broadband internet is able to use the frequency from 26 KHz to 1104 KHz without the transmissions interrupting each other, in the way that dial up internet did. However, to make sure you avoid interference by using the same line, you will need to install a splitter so that you can use your phone and data lines at the same time.
ADSL stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line
ADSL then transmits the data from the line, to your computer, using a modem. Not only does ADSL broadband allow you to be on the phone and the internet at the same time, it is also much faster than the old dial up systems, with even the minimum download speeds reaching 256 kbps; however, even on the highest speed ADSL broadband plan, the actual speed you experience on your computer can be affected by a number of factors such as your distance from the relay centre, the quality of your phone lines and the type of modem you use. Your upload speeds with ADSL will be different to the download speeds, because the line is asymmetrical – and not the same. Your download speeds will typically be faster than your upload speeds, but this shouldn’t bother the average user who will likely do more downloading than uploading anyway.
Of course, every ADSL user is different, and you may need a bigger upload allowance if you are in the media, photography or programming industries, where you need to upload and share large files on your website or with your customers. As a result, the ISPs (internet service providers) who sell ADSL broadband packages, will have a range of speeds and data allowances available to meet the individual needs of each customer. Just remember that the more data you want and the higher speed you choose, the more you will be paying for your ADSL broadband plan each month.
What is the difference between ADSL and DSL?
Often ADSL and DSL are used interchangeably to describe broadband internet, however, DSL stands for just Digital Subscriber Line, which is a generic term which encompasses all services delivered over copper wire. For example, DSL encompasses any type of digital subscriber line, so you could be receiving high speed internet on a DSL package, but if you are on an ADSL package, the upload and download speeds will typically differ.
ADSL upload and download speeds are rarely the same, because of the asymmetrical nature of the line. However, another type of DSL is SDSL which is a Symmetrical Digital Subscriber Line where the upload and the download speeds are the same. Therefore, when you are looking at ADSL broadband plans, these are just one type of service which allows you to access high speed internet. However, ADSL is the most common type of DSL connection in residential areas of Australia.
ADSL upload and download speeds are rarely the same
There are many different types of DSL services, all of which will make it faster and easier for you to connect to the internet. DSL services allow you to be on the internet and on a landline phone at the same time, thanks to the signals running over different frequencies. However, all DSL services are also affected by your location, and the closer you are to the exchange or relay centre of your ISP, the faster your connection will be. Plus, there are still many areas of Australia which are unable to connect to the DSL network at all.
While ADSL is the most common and well known type of DSL connection, there are a number of other DSL technologies available too:
- HDSL, High Bit-Rate Digital Subscriber Line. HDSL is another type of symmetrical DSL and is the most established of the technologies. HDSL is able to upload and download data at up to 1.5 mbps over two copper phone lines. Using three phone lines HDSL can transmit at up to 2 mbps, where HDSL II offers the same performance as HDSL, but is able to use just one phone line. HDSL is often used as an alternative to a T1 connection, which is a dedicated telephone line offering high speed data transfer at 1.54 mbps. The range of HDSL is 12,000 to 15,000 feet, but can be extended using signal repeaters.
- SDSL, Symmetrical Digital Subscriber Line. Upload and download speeds are the same on an SDSL connection, and can reach the same speeds as HDSL. However, SDSL can only be used over one phone line, and can only be used within 10,000 feet of the phone company’s central office.
- VDSL, Very High Bit-Rate Digital Subscriber Line. This is the fastest of the DSL technologies and can download at speeds from 13 to 52 mbps, and upload at speeds of 1.5 to 2.3 mbps. However, the drawback to these awesome speeds, is that you need to be between 1,000 and 4,500 feet from the central office of the provider, alternatively the provider can set up a network interface within 4,500 feet of your location to connect you to the central office via fibre optic cable and extend the reach.
- IDSL, ISDN Digital Subscriber Line. IDSL uses the same data encoding techniques if ISDN devices, and is able to deliver up to 144 kbps of bandwidth, as a hybrid between ISDN and DSL technologies. IDSL is also able to bypass the congested phone network and use the data network instead, as well as avoid the call set up delay typical to ISDN connections.
- RADSL, Rate Adaptive Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line. RADSL can reach download speeds of up to 7 mbps and upload speeds of 1.5 mbps, as it operates on the same bandwidths as ADSL. However, RADSL is also able to adjust its bandwidth to the quality of the phone line while it is transmitting data, rather than only at the start of the connection.
Where is ADSL Available?
The network of ADSL broadband is expanding all the time around Australia, and if you are able to get telephone services, and you live in a major metropolitan or surrounding area, the chances are good that you will be able to connect to ADSL. To make the connection to an ADSL line in your home or office you will need a compatible modem to convert the signal to your computer, and a splitter to remove any interference between your phone line and the ADSL line.
How to Check Whether ADSL Broadband is Available
However, there are still some pockets around Australia where ADSL broadband cannot be accessed, and before you spend the time comparing you want to make sure your home has an ADSL connection available. However, it does take just a few simple steps to determine whether you will be able to get ADSL at your place:
- You’ll need a phone number. As ADSL runs through the same copper wire as your phone service, whenever you want to determine the eligibility of your ADSL access, your phone number will be the identifier used to review whether your phone line can transmit ADSL data. Even if you are applying for naked ADSL, you will still need a phone line connected, which will then be disconnected when your naked service is active.
- Contact the ISP. Even if you haven’t made the final decision on who your ADSL provider will be yet, you can still contact your current phone provider and ask them about ADSL connection. They will be able to tell you whether you can connect to ADSL, and the type of connection you can access, for example, standard ADSL, ADSL2 or ADSL2+ as the faster ADSL2+ is not available across the entire ADSL network yet.
- Search online. If you can get online, using your smartphone, at work or at a friend’s house, then you can also enter your address into an ISP’s website, to find out whether ADSL broadband is available to your premises.
- Find a phone number. Or, if you don’t already have a phone number connected, and you’re not ready to commit to a landline phone plan for the purposes of finding out about your ADSL connection, you are able to plug a phone into the phone socket of your home, and dial 183212722123, which will tell you the last phone number connected at the property. You can then give the ISP this phone number. Or if you live in an apartment building, or you work in a dense office block, you can usually give a neighbour’s phone number, or the number of the building complex, and the ISP can determine whether ADSL is available.
What can you do if ADSL is not available?
In some cases you may contact an ISP to be told that ADSL is not enabled at your exchange, and you cannot connect to ADSL broadband. However, there are a few things you can check on if your ADSL order is rejected:
- Invalid service number. Depending on who your current telephone provider is, and who you want your ISP to be, you may be told you have an invalid service number, when trying to connect to ADSL. This is because if you are on an Optus phone service for example, and are trying to connect to an ISP who uses the Telstra copper lines (as the majority of Australian providers do), then the Telstra based ISP can’t connect you. Therefore, you may need to switch to a Telstra copper home line service to activate ADSL broadband.
- High transmission loss. The copper line to your home or business may also be deemed too long for ADSL to work effectively through it. If the transmission loss is too high, it is because you are too far away from your local exchange – remembering that the distance of the wire travels along all of the streets between your house and the exchange, not in a direct line from the exchange. The Telstra Wholesale DSLAM lines are service qualified to an average 4.5 km of line length. This is calculated at 56db of loss at 300 Khz, so the exact distance at which the loss occurs can differ. However, you can seek out other providers who can overcome this loss, where some use naked ADSL connections for example.
- Incompatible product. You may already have a product or service installed on your line, which is incompatible with ADSL. For example, there may have already been an application for ADSL submitted for your line, and the service or the codes are still on your line. Or there may be a phone or product on your line such as a prepaid home phone account, ANT1 or ISDN service in use. Other incompatibilities can arise if there are call diversions in place, or a phone fault logged on your phone line. The incompatible product can be anything that is registered on your line, as there can only be one order on a phone line at a time, however, you can usually identify and remove any issues by contacting your phone provider.
- No service number connected. If your phone number is not active within the Telstra Wholesaler’s database, the provider will not be able to connect it to the ADSL service. Your number may show as not connected if you have recently connected a new phone line, and the connection has yet to be fully processed. Or your number may be running through another company’s infrastructure, and can’t be found by the Telstra system.
- Network build will not proceed/alternate path not available. If this is the message you get when trying to connect to ADSL broadband, then it likely means that ADSL is not available to you. This is because there is not a continuous copper line path between your home and the exchange, as your phone line may be attached to a pair-gain system or a remote integrated multiplexer (RIM) unit, where these systems block the ability of ADSL. These systems are used when Telstra runs out of copper wire in a physical area, as these solutions are much cheaper than digging up whole streets to run new copper wire back to the exchange. You will find RIM unit connections are common in new housing developments and industrial developments, where there has been a significant and sudden increase in the number of phone lines required. In this case, Telstra may conduct a network build investigation, to determine whether there is enough demand to warrant them upgrading the network in the area to transmit ADSL. However, if no modifications to the system in your area go ahead, your order for ADSL will be cancelled – but you shouldn’t be charged a fee for the application.
Remember, that even if you apply for ADSL and for some reason ADSL is not yet enabled in your area, that doesn’t mean you will never be connected to broadband internet. Exchanges are regularly being upgraded and enabled for ADSL, so it can be worth checking on your ADSL status regularly.
Features and Benefits of ADSL Broadband
If you’re still wondering whether a new ADSL broadband plan is worth the effort to upgrade to, and why it is worth the extra cost, consider the added benefits you will be getting from the unique features of broadband internet:
- Increased speed. When you upgrade to ADSL broadband you will be blown away by the increased speed at which you can browse the internet and download information. Compared to dial up internet, ADSL lets you view web pages in seconds, and can even stream music, videos and movies through your computer almost instantly.
- Ease of use. Broadband internet is easy and convenient to use as it requires just one click and you’re online, and it won’t affect any of your other services. With a dial up connection you would have to dial in and wait for connection, all the while listening to the sounds of the modem connecting, however, ADSL broadband is on all the time, and just waiting for you to tell it what you want to look at. Plus, where you once couldn’t use the internet and the phone at the same time with a dial up connection, broadband makes it easy for you to talk on the phone while checking your emails or the weather, or Googling a new client as you talk to them.
- Easy billing and plans. Just because your broadband connection is always at the ready, it doesn’t mean you are charged for 24/7 access. Instead you are only charged when you go online, and only for the data you upload and download – some ADSL broadband plans even have unmetered uploads. Plans with unlimited data will often have a fair use policy attached, so while you won’t have to worry about a data cap as you are browsing your favourite sites and video clips, you can’t abuse the access either with excessive use. However, each ISP will have a range of ADSL broadband plans for you to compare, and you can choose one which will reflect your needs, and your budget.
Drawbacks of ADSL Broadband
There are a few things you need to be aware of when connecting to broadband internet, as it’s not all about fast connection speeds and unlimited use:
- Reliability of the connection. As discussed when connecting to ADSL broadband, your location can determine the quality of your connection. The ADSL broadband service is not a consistent one, and each customer will have a different experience depending on how far away they are from the service provider’s exchange. The closer you are to the exchange, the stronger your signal will be, but as you move further from the exchange, the signal quality starts to deteriorate, and this can affect your connection and your online experience.
- Reduced speeds. As you move further from the exchange and your signal degrades, so too can your speed decrease. The advertised speed of your ADSL broadband plan may not always be what is actually coming through your computer when you log into the internet. The further away from the exchange you go, coupled with the hardware and software that you are using, can lead to you experiencing much lower broadband speeds than you are paying for.
How to Make an ADSL Broadband Connection More Reliable
While the reliability of your connection and speed on ADSL broadband can be easily compromised, they can also be easily rectified with a few simple tips:
- Install a splitter. Whenever there is another device which shares an ADSL line, such as a telephone, the line will need a splitter or a filter. A splitter will have one line which is connected into the wall socket of the phone line, and on the other end will be a port called ‘phone’ and another called ‘ADSL’. Plug in your phone, fax or answering machine to the ‘phone’ port, and plug in your ADSL modem to the ADSL port. A second type of splitter is a central splitter which will need to be installed by a telephone technician, as it is installed on the phone line before the first phone point in your home. A central splitter then protects all of the phone extensions without the need for additional splitters on each line. If you have tried a simple splitter and this hasn’t improved your ADSL connection, a central splitter may solve the problem.
- Install a filter. A filter on the other hand will still have one connection to the phone line socket, but will only have one port, for your phone. You will need to make sure you don’t install your filter backwards, and never install your ADSL in your filter. Instead you will need a telephone double adapter, which you plug into the wall socket. One plug from the double adaptor can be connected to the ADSL modem, and the other plus can be connected to the filter, which in turn is connected to your telephone.
- Isolate an issue. If you connect to ADSL broadband and are having trouble with the speed and reliability, you can try and isolate whether there is a problem with the other devices in your home. Turn off all phones, fax machines, answering machines, alarm systems and other devices which connect to your phone line, leaving just the computer and ADSL modem running. Then turn on your computer and open an internet browsing window. Then open another two or three windows or play an online video to gauge the speed of the connection. If your ADSL has returned to a normal speed, reconnect your phone and other devices one at a time, checking your ADSL speed after each reconnection to see which one is causing the interference. You can then replace the interfering device, as it may simply be an old piece of technology, or disconnect it when you are using the internet.
- New phone line. It could also be worth replacing the phone line which connects your modem to the filter or splitter. Even a small cut, or a persistent kink in the line can cause interference with your ADSL signal. When you buy a new line, buy one which is just the right length to reach from the plug to the modem, as coiling up an overly long line can also cause interference.
- Antivirus scan and software. Your ADSL broadband connection could also be affected by a virus on your computer, so purchase some up to date, high quality antivirus software, and run a comprehensive scan of your computer. Remove any problems identified by the scan and restart the computer.
- Upgrade your computer. If you are running super fast broadband internet into an older model of computer, you are not going to get the full benefit of your ADSL connection. Older computers don’t always have the capacity to run ADSL speeds, and if you have noticed that your computer programs slow down or freeze when you are browsing the internet or downloading music or files, then your computer may not be powerful enough to deliver the full speed of your broadband connection.
- Avoid file sharing. File sharing programs can significantly slow down a broadband connection, so if you are having trouble with your ADSL speeds, shut down all file sharing programs on all devices in your home, and try and leave file sharing activities for overnight, so it doesn’t interfere with your family’s peak usage times.
- Check the line through your ISP or phone company. If you have tried all of these steps and your broadband connection is still slow or unreliable, or you are still getting interference through your phone line, you should contact your provider. There could be an issue with your phone line to and from the exchange, and this is the responsibility of the provider. Your ISP may also be able to suggest changes to your modem or computer configuration which can improve your broadband connection, and can often solve a problem over the phone without you having to wait for a technician to come out.
Who is ADSL suited to?
While there are certain drawbacks to ADSL broadband, there are also a number of ways to overcome them, so that you and your family can enjoy a fast, reliable, always on and easy to use internet connection. At the same time, ADSL broadband is a very specific type of internet connection, and the broadband plans available will be suited to certain types of users. For example, an ADSL broadband plan will be suited to people who are looking for:
- High speed at a fixed price. The speeds and convenience of ADSL broadband are a significant improvement on the dial up internet you are likely upgrading from and so these will be very important features for you. Perhaps you are upgrading because your children are starting school and need the internet for research, or maybe you are starting a business from home, or just want to be able to manage your banking, emails and online shopping online quickly and easily to save you time and money. A fixed price broadband plan will also help you manage your budget from month to month, and you will be able to track your usage so you never get caught out.
- Affordability. ADSL broadband is not the fastest connection type available, however, if you are an average user or a small family with moderate internet needs, then ADSL broadband will be fast enough for your needs, and you won’t have to pay the premium for super high speed internet such as ADSL2 or ADSL2+. Unless you are a regular online gamer, or often download large files, then the speed of ADSL will be ample, and affordable.
How to Choose an ADSL Broadband Plan
Because ADSL broadband is such a popular and easy to use technology, there is a lot of competition in the market when it comes to available plans and providers. This is great news for you because it means you can find a value packed deal, at a price which fits within your budget. At the same time however, it can make the task of comparing and choosing ADSL broadband plans quite time consuming. That is why you will want to use these few simple comparison points to help you sort through the plethora of information:
- Cost of the plan. In general, ADSL broadband plans are very affordable, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t compare the value included in the cost of each plan. You may also want to look for a plan with a low cost trial period so that you can take the plan for a test run before you decide to stick with it.
- Download and upload speeds. The speeds you need in an ADSL broadband plan will depend on what you will be using the internet for. For example, data plans start with download speeds of 256 Kbps and upload speeds of 64 Kbps, and this will suit the moderate user who just needs to browse a few web pages and check emails. However, if you are a heavy internet user, or want your ADSL broadband connection for online gaming, you will want the fastest speeds available, which can be up to 24 Mbps.
- Data limits. While fast downloads are all very well, in addition to downloading as fast as you want, you also need to know you can download as much as you want. Therefore, you need to look at the data limits of the ADSL plans you are comparing, because each plan will be structured with a download limit which will reflect a certain type of user, and you need to choose the plan which meets your download needs. If you go over your download limit, you can often be charged significant amounts for your excess data usage.
- Contract term. One way to make your ADSL broadband even more affordable is to sign up for a contract. When the ISP is able to lock you in as an ongoing customer, they are willing to offer you discounted services, and in some cases extras such as a free modem. Just make sure you sign up for a period you are happy to see through, because if you need to change or break your contract before the end of the term, there can be costly exit fees involved.
- Valuable inclusions. Because of the competition between ADSL broadband providers, many try and sweeten the deal by adding extras to your package. This could include a modem, or could also be free technical advice and service, free off peak downloads, or an upgraded modem, for example adding a wireless modem to your plan so you can connect mobile devices anywhere in your home.
- ADSL plan bundles. When an ISP bundles together a number of services for you, they are able to offer you a cheaper price overall, than you would pay for each service separately. Therefore, consider whether you can take advantage of an ADSL broadband bundle which also includes a phone service, or connection to pay TV such as Foxtel.
- ISP delivery. In most cases, if one ISP can’t connect you to the ADSL broadband network, then none of them can, as your location is too far away from an exchange, or your phone line is not of high enough quality. However, if you are rejected for connection by one ISP, it can be worth checking with another – larger – ISP who may be able to get you connected on their network.
- The ISP’s reputation. No matter how attractive the price or the bundle offer is, ADSL broadband is not worth anything if the provider isn’t reputable. You need to make sure you choose an ISP who is well established in Australia, and who has a good reputation for reliability, customer service and support. Ask your friends and family about their experiences with their ISPs, and search the internet to read reviews of each provider.
Other types of ADSL broadband plans and their uses
ADSL broadband has a lot of different uses and benefits, and there are also a number of ways you can get connected. For example, while ADSL runs through your phone line, you don’t have to have a phone connected to your home to receive ADSL broadband internet. ADSL without a landline phone is called naked ADSL, and a naked ADSL plan could be just what you are looking for if you don’t want the added expense of a landline phone and calls, not to mention line rental.
think about how much you really use your landline phone
Chances are you use your mobile phone for most things already, from checking the weather to checking your emails, so you probably reach for your mobile to make calls before you would a landline phone too. Therefore, think about how much you really use your landline phone – if at all; probably the only people who call you on it are trying to sell you something. Therefore, naked ADSL allows you all the benefits of ADSL broadband without the need for a landline phone – the line is still there, it’s just inactive.
Therefore, as naked ADSL runs through the same phone line as regular ADSL, you still need to be in an ADSL area, and you need to be close enough to the exchange to receive a strong and reliable signal. As a result, naked ADSL is much like standard ADSL, and to compare the plans and providers you’ll need to look at the following:
- Data allowance of the plan. Consider what type of internet user you will be, and how much time you will be spending online – and what you will be doing. Make sure that the naked ADSL plan you sign up for has enough data for your needs, and check all the conditions to make sure you’re not caught out by changes in peak and of peak charges.
- Naked ADSL broadband plan bundles. If you think you will miss being able to make calls from home, then you can look for a naked ADSL plan which has VoIP calls included. VoIP calls are made over the internet, and at a much cheaper rate than standard landline calls – plus there’s still no line rental fee. Plus, when you bundle services together with your naked ADSL, you can often receive a discount on those services as a whole.
- Contract terms. You can also save money on a naked ADSL broadband plan by signing up for a contract. When an ISP is able to lock you into a long term contract, even for just six months, 12 months or 24 months, then they are willing to offer you discounted prices on your services for your ongoing commitment. Just make sure you are happy with the contract term, and your needs aren’t likely to change significantly during that term, as it can attract extra charges if you change the details of your contract. There may also be a set up fee to cover the administration, or the cost of providing a modem.
- ISP customer service. Your internet is not something you want to be having problems with, and if there is a problem you want it fixed fast. Therefore, choose a naked ADSL provider who has a good customer service team, and strong support system which will be able to resolve any issues quickly and easily.
- Extras. As well as throwing in a modem, it doesn’t hurt to ask for other extras such as free VoIP, a static IP address or free data allowance on websites which partner with your ISP.
When it comes time to connect to your naked ADSL, remember that each ISP will do things differently. Some will be able to connect your internet without a phone line at all – for example if you’ve just moved into a new home, while others will require that there is an existing Telstra landline connected to the property before they install your naked ADSL. Therefore, make sure you compare the connection methods of each ISP to find one which will meet your situation.
How does ADSL broadband compare to other broadband technology?
ADSL broadband is just one way of connecting to the internet at high speeds, and there are a lot of other competing technologies out there for you to choose from. For example:
- ADSL2+. This is the broadband connection which is the most similar to ADSL broadband, where ADSL2+ is simply faster than standard ADSL. Where ADSL runs at an average speed of 8 Mbps, ADSL2+ can reach speeds of up to 20 Mbps. Of course, whenever you are getting more from your internet connection in terms of speed, you can expect to pay more too, and an ADSL2+ broadband plan will be more expensive than a standard ADSL plan.
- Cable internet. Cable internet runs through the same system as cable television, so if your home is connected to the cable network you may want to consider this type of internet connection. Cable internet is much faster than ADSL, and your speed and connection quality are not as dependent on your distance from the exchange.
However, ADSL broadband can still be a fast, reliable and affordable option for connecting your family to the internet. While it may not be the fastest type of broadband available, it is still significantly faster than a dial up connection. For example, while you could download an 850 MB file on an ADSL2+ connection in just five minutes, on an ADSL connection of 8 Mbps that download would take around 14 minutes. However, compare that to downloading the file on a dial up connection at a speed of 56 kbps, and the download would take over 33 hours.
Plus, when you connect to a higher speed internet connection such as ADSL2+ or cable internet, you will need to upgrade your modem to be compatible with speeds of more than 8 Mbps. Therefore, considering the accessibility of broadband internet, and the added costs, in many cases, standard ADSL broadband can be the best value connection, while still giving you fast and easy internet access.