Our world is a connected one, and the ease with which you access your services, files and friends online makes a big difference to your daily routine.
Internet service providers (ISPs) are the gatekeepers of this aspect of our lives, so it's important to be happy with your plan. But even if you're not, switching providers can still feel risky – how do you know if the new one will be better or worse than the last?
We gathered feedback from more than 1800 people for our ISP satisfaction survey so you don't have to settle for the devil you know. Or you might find out you're already with one of the best providers out there, meaning you can stay put with confidence.
Why we've partnered with WhistleOut
We've partnered with search engine WhistleOut to help you find and buy the right plan for you. The blue 'Search Providers' button above will take you to their site. While we make money if you buy through WhistleOut, this doesn't influence our rankings. 100% of the money we make goes straight back into our nonprofit mission.
Our respondents delivered feedback on more than 30 internet service providers (ISPs). Where we had fewer than 30 responses for a single provider, we grouped ISPs into the "Other" section, leaving eight ISPs we could report on.
We asked people how satisfied they were across eight categories:
- Overall satisfaction
- Connection speed
- Value for money
- Reliable, consistent connection
- Bill clarity
- Ease of initial setup
- Customer service / technical support
- Ping / Latency
The internet landscape in Australia is changing, particularly thanks to the NBN rollout.
When we conducted our previous survey in 2017, only 28% of respondents had active NBN services. This roughly matched NBN's own data, which stated there were 2.4 million active services across Australia in June that year.
This year, 80% of respondents had an active NBN connection of some sort. Of these, 25% of our respondents had a fibre to the premises (FTTP) connection, 19% had fibre to the node (FTTN) and 11% had fibre to the curb (FTTC). These figures differ from Australia's actual NBN footprint, where FTTN is the most common type of connection.
The rest of NBN service types were less than 10% individually. And 26% didn't know which NBN service they had.
ADSL connections, the most common pre-NBN fixed broadband in Australia, now make up just 6% of respondents – roughly the same number of respondents who rely on mobile broadband as their primary internet source.
We found that Telstra dominates the market in subscribers across all internet technologies with 32% of respondents, plus an additional 5% through its subsidiary, Belong.
Optus was next with 15%. TPG (which includes Chariot, Alphalink, Soul, and AAPT) followed with 9%, and its major subsidiary iiNet at 8%, adding up to 17% of respondents overall. Aussie Broadband, Dodo and Vodafone each came in at 4%, while Exetel and iPrimus came in at 2%. The remaining 15% of respondents were spread across ISPs with 1% or below.
Most common problems
Just under half (45%) of respondents had problems with their current ISP in the six months prior to the survey.
Aussie Broadband stood out with 76% of its customers reporting no problems with their internet, compared to Telstra (55%), Optus (50%), TPG (56%), iiNet (51%), and Vodafone (52%).
The most common issues were reliability (disconnections, dropouts or variable performance), speed, failure to connect and left without connection for hours or days at a time. These four categories were reported by 33% of respondents, which is a drop when compared to 42% in 2019.
Cost is the main reason people switch providers – 33% of people switched ISPs to find a cheaper plan. Connection speed (25%) and reliability (22%) were also key issues, though not nearly as significant.
Stay and save?
Many people switch to sign up to a cheaper plan, but if you're happy with your current ISP, have you considered downgrading your data allowance to save some money? Many people overestimate how much data they need each month, which means they pay more than they need to. Check how much you actually use via your provider's website or app.
How often do people change ISPs?
In general, Australians don't change internet providers very often. Most people have been with their current ISP for more than five years.
Only 4% of people have switched ISPs in the last six months. Of these, 21% moved from Telstra (including Belong) and 16% moved from Optus.
In contrast, 16% of respondents have been with the same ISP for 5–10 years and 32% for over 10 years.
When switching, check if your new provider has a no-contract option with limited or no sign-up fees. This can let you dip your toe in without getting stuck for a year or more.
Consider switching to a smaller provider to save money. While we don't have enough statistics on most of them individually, as a group they performed well for Overall satisfaction.
If you're on the NBN, you can also check out our analysis of the ACCC's broadband monitoring program results. We collect the raw data and apply our own scoring system to find out which NBN providers perform best.
In our survey, Aussie Broadband customers are by far the most satisfied. Aussie Broadband scored highest in every category by a significant margin, and 88% for Overall satisfaction.
There's no significant leap between any other brand and its next highest or lowest scoring competitor. But there is a significant difference between, say, the second-best and the lowest scores.
The "Other" category (ISPs for which we had fewer than 30 respondents) came equal second (80%) alongside iPrimus and just ahead of Belong (79%) and Vodafone (78%). These providers have a much smaller market share than the major four (though Belong is owned by Telstra), so their scores are worth noting.
Dodo scored lowest for Overall satisfaction (73%), just behind Telstra (74%) and Optus (75%).
Aussie Broadband also had the most satisfied customers for NBN connection technologies, but given 80% of survey respondents had an NBN connection, this is unsurprising.
There is some variation between the general and NBN-specific scores, but not a significant amount.
Unfortunately, when non-NBN connection technologies weren't included, we didn't have enough data to report on iPrimus as an individual provider and so it's been wrapped up into the "Other" category.
Australians aged 18 years and over told us about their experience with their internet and mobile providers in an online survey. Quotas were placed for state, gender and age to ensure we got a nationally representative sample of Australian adults who are solely or jointly responsible for decisions relating to their telecommunication providers. The data has also been weighted to ensure that it is nationally representative.
Respondents needed to have either an internet connection or a mobile phone service to take part in the survey. 1850 Australians completed the survey and said they have a current internet connection.
Providers who had 30 or more respondents stating current usage have been included in our scores tables. Satisfaction scores are calculated out of 100. Respondents were asked to rate their service provider on various attributes and Overall satisfaction on a seven-point scale, ranging from terrible to excellent. This was then converted to satisfaction scores out of 100.
The average score refers to the category average and includes not just the brands listed but also all other brands which had a sample of fewer than 30 respondents.
This survey was in field from 1–22 February 2021. CHOICE designed the survey and fieldwork, and survey execution was managed by Dynata (formerly Research Now SSI, who conducted the fieldwork for our 2017 and 2019 Telco Satisfaction Surveys). Dynata is an ISO 20252 / ISO 26362 accredited panel provider and complies with all applicable industry standards published by ESOMAR, the MRS and the AMSRS.
Stock images: Getty unless otherwise stated.