How much do I really need?


Hello Team,

I have recently decided to upgrade (finally) from my archaic dial-up internet system to a broadband connection. Although I have not done so yet, as I am slightly confused about hidden charges and fees which come with some of the plans. And how many ‘downloads’ do I really need? I mainly use my computer for emails, photos, Google, other websites and sometimes downloading videos.




Well Joyce, your’s is a problem which many people, especially seniors, encounter when making the switch between dial-up and broadband. But it is not just people switching who have trouble, some people who have been paying for broadband for a long time are altogether confused with what constitutes a reasonable data allowance and quite often are paying too much.

Internet companies are quite savvy in the way they offer their data packages. By offering a relatively small data package (for example most will offer one around the two to five gigabyte mark which would not be sufficient on a smartphone) they often force people into going up to the next package offered. This package is often too large for the typical computer users, and forces them into a relative ‘no man’s land’ whereby they are backed into reaching above themselves to purchase a higher plan with an exorbitant amount of data usage which would suffice a small office block.

This can lead to users being overcharged in two ways. Firstly, by being backed into a plan which is way too small for them, users are essentially purchasing data they will never have a chance of using. In effect, money is just being wasted on data.

Secondly, if people stick with the small download option, people will quickly exceed their download limit. This will lead to your account getting ‘capped’ and it may lead to excess charges.

So it is important to know how much usage you will need. If as you say you stick mainly to emails, surfing the internet, social networking and only the occasional video stream or download, then anywhere between a minimum of five and a maximum of 20 gigabytes per month is sufficient.

Yet if you engage in large downloads of media, spend long periods online, uses peer – to peer video sites such as Skype, then it is worth considering making the jump up to 30 – 50 gigabytes per month.

When it comes to speed concerns, they are almost redundant in your case. You will most likely find it hard to keep up with the massive jump from dial-up and unless you are consistently making large scale downloads (films and such) then the speed of your internet connection is not a massive concern.

Make sure to shop around and find the best deal for your situation (we have taken the liberty of providing two examples below), worry less about speed and more about data limits, and don’t get roped into a deal which is entirely above or below what you need. Good luck and happy surfing!

iiNet –

ADSL+2 – 20 gigabytes of downloads per month (10 gig on peak, 10 off peak)

$29.95 per month

Telstra –

ADSL+2 – Bigpond Elite Liberty – 50 gigabytes of downloads per month

$49.95 per month