Most people consider an internet connection to be an essential service, especially as many organisations now encourage customers to manage their accounts online instead of a traditional bill through the mail.
So it may come as a surprise that there is not much in the way of assistance when it comes to paying for an internet connection for seniors.
But there are savings to be made on broadband and home phone plans if you know where to look.
Senior discounts on broadband
The Government no longer offers a telephone allowance for pensioners but does have a Pension Supplement instead. If you are not already receiving this payment, check with your local Centrelink office to find out if you are eligible.
Telstra offers a pensioner discount on home phone lines but not on broadband plans. The maximum discount is $12.25 a month. Telstra will only offer this discount if you ask for it so, if you have a home phone line with Telstra and do not already receive a discount, call the helpline number on your bill and ask for this discount to be applied.
A word on senior plans
Optus and ONESeniors are two Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that offer special plans for over 55s. However, just because a product is labelled as 'senior' don't assume it is better value. Choose a plan based on what you need, not on the marketing.
There are three important decisions to make when buying a broadband plan: which type of broadband you would like, which provider you would like to sign up with and which plan you would like from that provider.
Mobile broadband or ADSL?
Mobile broadband is comparable to a mobile phone, while ADSL is comparable to a home phone. Similar to a mobile phone, mobile broadband can be used anywhere it can find a signal, but as with a mobile phone, mobile broadband suffers from dropouts and is not as reliable as a home phone. ADSL on the other hand uses the same copper as your home phone. You can't take this type of internet connection outside the home, but it is fast, reliable and usually better value for money than mobile broadband.
Choosing the right broadband provider
You may be wondering what the difference is between Internet Service Providers (ISPs), especially when some appear to be much pricier than others. Essentially, your speed and connection quality should be the same no matter who you go with. Speed really depends on your distance from the telephone exchange. The cheaper ISPs make their savings by cutting back on extras, such as the ability to run a fax machine over your line and by outsourcing customer service overseas.
How to choose the best value broadband plan
As previously mentioned, mobile broadband is not great value for money so let’s focus on broadband over the phone line, or ADSL2+, to give it its technical name.
Bundling is a good way of getting a discount on your broadband plan. A bundle is when you sign up to a home phone and broadband service from the same provider. Be aware that if you decide to bundle your services with a provider other than Telstra, you will be losing your Telstra pensioner discount, however with some deals it may be worthwhile.
If you are thinking about a broadband plan, or you are curious to know if you are overpaying for your current set up, comparison websites such as CompareBroadband.com.au can help you choose the best plan for your needs. It's an easy, free way to compare plans from different providers so you know for sure you are getting the best deal on the market.
This article was kindly provided by Sarah McDonald, Online Editor for Compare Broadband, the independent broadband comparison website. Compare Broadband offers advice to find the best broadband plan, both online and over the phone from its Melbourne-based call centre. Call 1300 764 000 to find out which broadband plans are available in your area.
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