Wireless Broadband: Is it Right for Your Household?

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Due to NZ’s often challenging geography, not all homes have access to fibre internet. However, thanks to wireless broadband, it doesn’t mean you have to forego speedy internet access.

If you’re looking for quick and easy internet access, without the commitment of a cable connection, home wireless broadband could be the way forward. Wireless modems typically deliver plug-and-play functionality, making it possible to get set up and online in quick time.

When it comes to home broadband connections, the ultra-fast broadband (UFB) rollout has, of course, been the primary focus in recent years. However, for some households going wireless may be a more convenient option, as home wireless broadband provides faster-than-ADSL speeds.

For households falling into this category, there are a range of retailers offering home wireless broadband services. And it’s well worth exploring the pros and cons of the different plans on offer.

What is home wireless broadband?

Unlike UFB and ADSL modems, which connect to a provider’s broadband network via cable, wireless broadband modems connect wirelessly to a provider’s 4G mobile network.

Wireless broadband modems are similar to UFB and ADSL modems in that they can create a wi-fi home network, providing for the wireless connection of different devices. Some modems also have ethernet ports, allowing for the wired connection of devices.

Meanwhile, home wireless broadband differs from mobile broadband in that it’s designed to be used at a fixed location. Whereas mobile broadband, delivered via devices such as USB modems that plug directly into a laptop or desktop, is intended for on-the-go use.

It’s also worthwhile noting that some 5G wireless broadband services are starting to emerge amid the initial rollout of 5G networks. While 5G is still very much in its early stages, this will be an area to keep an eye on in the coming years.

Home wireless broadband: what to keep in mind

Home wireless broadband may be a viable option for your household if you live in an area that doesn’t yet have UFB, or if installing a cable connection presents issues. While renters, who don’t plan on being at a residence long term, may opt for a quick and easy wireless connection.

If you’re considering signing up for a home wireless broadband plan, it’s important to confirm that it’s available in your area. Many retailers allow you to enter your address and check availability online.

The following are some additional factors to keep in mind when weighing up the pros and cons of home wireless broadband plans:

  • Modem – a retailer will provide a modem either at an upfront cost or with a plan. It’s worth noting that retailers typically stipulate that the modem can only be used at the customer’s nominated location. So, if you plan on moving, it’s important to contact your retailer.
  • Flexible or fixed-term plan – plans may range from flexible month-to-month plans to fixed-term plans, such as 12-month plans. If you choose a fixed-term plan, it’s worthwhile keeping in mind the process and fees that will apply in the event of its early termination.
  • Data caps – plans typically come with data caps. Always confirm what will happen once a cap is reached, and the cost of extra data.
  • Home phone – some plans are available with the option to include a home phone.
  • Account management and monitoring – what sort of online account management and monitoring tools are provided? For instance, keeping track of data usage may be important if you’re consistently close to your data caps.
  • Incentives – are retailers offering any additional incentives, such as different types of discounts or the ability to bundle with other services, to join?

Home wireless broadband plans

The following are some of the home wireless broadband plans on offer from retailers in urban areas around the country (rural plans typically have different price structures).

spark_logo

Spark

Spark’s home wireless broadband service is available across most of New Zealand, using its 4G network. It recently removed data caps on its Unplan Metro Wireless plan, which had limited customers to 600GB per month.

Users on Spark’s Unplan plans move automatically between three price tiers, based on their data usage every month. It’s important to be aware of potential data restrictions, with further information available at the Spark website.

Unplan plans are available on 12-month terms, with consumers able to add a landline for $10 per month.

 

Plan Monthly data Download/Upload Cost (per month)*
Unplan Wireless Up to 60GB/60-120GB/120GB+ 4G/4G Up to 60GB: $65

60-120GB: $75

120GB+: $85

Unplan Metro Wireless Up to 60GB/60-120GB/120GB+ 4G/4G Up to 60GB: $65

60-120GB: $75

120GB+: $85

Unplan Netflix Wireless Up to 60GB/60-120GB/120GB+ 4G/4G Up to 60GB: $75

60-120GB: $85

120GB+: $95

Unplan Netflix Metro Wireless Up to 60GB/60-120GB/120GB+ 4G/4G Up to 60GB: $75

60-120GB: $85

120GB+: $95

vodafone_logo

Vodafone

Vodafone’s home wireless broadband service runs on its 4G mobile network, which it describes as providing “a super-fast, reliable broadband service”. Vodafone’s network guarantee offers consumers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Consumers have a choice of 300GB and 600GB plans. You can also buy extra data if required, available as 1GB, 15GB and 50GB add-ons. Currently, Vodafone offers a joining credit of $300 with both of these plans.

Vodafone’s plans are available on 12-month terms, with customers able to make unlimited national calls for an additional $10.

 

Plan Monthly data Download/Upload Cost (per month)*
300GB Wireless Broadband 300GB 4G/4G $75
600GB Wireless Broadband 600GB 4G/4G $85

Skinny

Skinny’s home wireless broadband plans use the Spark 4G network. It offers consumers a 30-day money-back network guarantee.

Skinny offers 60GB, 120GB and unlimited plans. Customers are also able to repurchase their plan at any time to get another 60GB or 120GB, or buy a 10GB data add-on for $20. Currently, Skinny offers the first month free with each of its plans.

Skinny’s prepaid plans are available on a monthly basis (without a landline), and the Skinny 4G modem costs an additional upfront sum of $99.

Plan Monthly data Download/Upload Cost (per month)*
60GB Wireless 4G Broadband 60GB 4G/4G $39
120GB Wireless 4G Broadband 120GB 4G/4G $49
Uncapped Wireless 4G Broadband Uncapped 4G/4G $65

trust-power

Trustpower

Trustpower’s home wireless broadband plans use the Spark 4G network. It describes its wireless broadband speeds as being “typically faster than ADSL broadband but generally slower than fibre”.

Trustpower offers 60GB, 120GB and 300GB plans. An extra 10GB data pack is automatically added and charged to a customer’s account if they use all of their base plan’s data. If this additional data is used, customers can choose to add manual 10GB data packs ($10 per pack) – up to four packs for the 60GB and 120GB plans, and two for the 300GB plan.

Trustpower offers a range of bundle offers with its plans, along with home phone lines ($10 per month), which are available on a monthly basis.

Plan Monthly data Download/Upload Cost (per month)*
60GB WBB 60GB 4G/4G $84
120GB WBB 120GB 4G/4G $94
300GB WBB 300GB 4G/4G $104


*Further information on pricing can
be found at individual retailer websites. This should be used as a starter guide and not considered an actual quote.


Compare broadband providers with Canstar

For a clearer picture of broadband providers in NZ, Canstar Blue rates all the providers in the market annually. We survey thousands of broadband customers and ask them to score their providers across categories including Value for Money, Network Performance and Customer Service.

Canstar Blue’s 2020 review of NZ internet providers compares NOW, 2degrees, Bigpipe, Contact, MyRepublic, Orcon, Skinny, Slingshot, Spark, Stuff Fibre, Trustpower, Vodafone and Voyager, and awards the best our 5 Star rating:

See Our Ratings Methodology

The table above is an abridged version of our full research, so to find out more about NZ’s best broadband providers, just click on the big button below:

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