Selasa, 02 November 2010

How to pick a 3G data plan: $25 or less

It's an all-in-brawl at the cheaper end of the wireless market. So which plans stand out?

In case you hadn't noticed, wireless and fixed broadband market is going through a drastic period of change.

But amidst the debate over fibre and price wars over terabyte and unlimited plans, it's easy to forget that wireless is going to be absolutely crucial for gadget lovers.

This week we've decided to take a look at a few of the entry level 3G plans - the trigger being iPrimus decision to revamp their 3G prices. While their decision to introduce excess data fees won't exactly delight users, the plans actually look reasonable otherwise.

The plan we've used for comparison is iPrimus' Speedster 2GB, which costs $25 per month, and compares favourably to what's on the market, as we'll explain below. On the downside, there's excess data fees, which it's possible to run up to $60. Fro what we can see, there's also no month-to-month option, with contracts over 12 or 24 months.

For those on a tight budget, the $25 iPrimus option stands out in the $25 and under price bracket - you'll discover entry level pricing often jumps from around $15 for 1GB up to about $29.

It's not the best deal we've spotted though. Month to month plans can offer similar value in terms of onthly quota, without the nuisance of a contract. A standout here is Optus' BYO 20 plan, which for $20 gets you 2GB, though you'll need your own modem. The downside is the $0.06 per MB excess data charge.

The plan we're most excited about though? Take a bow Internode. Not only does the ISP offer the flexibility of month to month plans, but there's no excess fees, and at $24.95 for 2GB compares favorably to the competition. Keep in mind the modem price isn't the cheapest, at $99 under a month to month plan. Internode also gives the option of purchasing additional data blocks if you're approaching your limit and need extra data.

As we noted, the next rung up from cheap-as-chips 1GB plans for many ISPs is around the $30 mark. You'll get 3Gb or 4GB of data, so it could be worth spending the extra $5 depending on your usage.

A standout here is Vodafone, which offers 4GB for $29, with relatively better excess data charges than some of the competitiotn, at $0.02 per MB. Better still, like Internode you have the option of month to month or contract pricing (a 12 month contract gets you a free modem, instead of paying $99).

If you haven't looked at wireless pricing for a year or two, it's also worth taking a look at Telstra which is looming as an increasingly attractive option. On top of Next G speeds and coverage, $29 for the Bigpond Liberty 3GB plan is nothing to sniff at. Unlike some of the other ISPs, there's no excess usage fees, but the big catch is the 24 month contract.

Of course, if you're looking at 3G for a tablet, or other portable device, then you'll want to consider issues like bundled pricing, mini WiFi 3G modems and tethering - we'll begin delving into those issues in our next posts.

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