Our world is a connected one, and the ease with which you can access 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 ready to try a new ISP, how do you know if the new one will be any better than the last?
For our satisfaction survey we gathered feedback from more than 1600 people to find out what Australians think of their ISP.
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.
The internet landscape in Australia has been uncharacteristically stable over the past two years, possibly because the NBN is close to saturation.
Between 2017 and 2021, our surveys saw active NBN connections soar from 28% to 80%. But this meteoric rise has hit a wall – our latest results revealed no significant change since 2021.
That said, this new normal might be a temporary lull. Already, the major telcos are positioning their fledgling 5G home internet services as alternatives to the NBN.
The market share of ISPs has barely changed over the past
two years. Telstra still dominates the market with 33% of respondents, followed
by Optus at 15%. Combined, TPG and its subsidiary iiNet account for 16%.
We saw no market share change for any individual provider greater than 1% compared to 2021. The only exception is AGL (2%), which we only included for the first time in this year's survey.
We asked people how satisfied they were with their ISP across 11 categories:
- overall satisfaction
- connection speed
- value for money
- reliable, consistent connection
- bill clarity
- ease of initial setup
- customer service/technical support
- connection speed relative to price
- data privacy and security measures
- sustainability and ethical conduct.
The final three of these are new to this year's survey. Where we had fewer than 30 responses for a single provider, we grouped ISPs into the 'Other' section.
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.
Most common problems
Almost half (44%) of respondents experienced problems with their ISP within the six months leading up to the survey.
A total 31% of respondents said their issues were related to speed and connection, including:
- disconnections, dropouts or variable performance (19%)
- very slow speeds (15%)
- left without connection for hours or days at a time (7%)
- failure to connect (7%).
Another common problem was long wait times with customer service (8%).
Note: Some respondents reported multiple issues.
Why do people change providers?
By far the largest factor people consider when looking for a new internet provider is the reliability of a connection (58%), which is hard information to come by. Measuring systems such as the ACCC's broadband monitoring program can only record internet speeds in short bursts throughout the day, which likely won't pick up intermittent or short-term fluctuations.
Because of this, one of the best ways to find out connection reliability is to ask customers to report on their experiences with a given provider.
The next two factors concern price – connection speed relative to price (38%) and data allowance relative to price (36%). Customer service/technical support (32%) comes in fourth, after which the percentage of people worrying drops significantly.
While a reliable connection is seen as important when looking for a new provider, it's not the reason most people switch. When respondents who had switched providers in the previous 12 months listed their reason, cost/found a cheaper plan (36%) was by far the most common.
Next came poor technical/customer support (21%), moved houses/states and the ISP wasn't available in the area (19%), reliability/consistency of connection (19%), and connection speed (18%).
How often do people change ISP?
Despite almost half of the people we surveyed experiencing problems, Australians don't change ISPs often. Only 11% of respondents had switched within the previous 12 months and 26% within the previous two years. By contrast, 38% had been with their current provider for 5–10 years, and 33% for more than 10 years.
Telstra customers in particular are in for the long haul, with over half (54%) staying put for more than a decade.
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.
Tips for switching providers
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 customer 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.
Survey respondents with Aussie Broadband were by far the most satisfied overall.
Aussie Broadband was also the highest scorer in all other 10 satisfaction categories, though not always by a wide margin.
Aussie Broadband had the most satisfied customers for NBN plans, once again scoring highest in every category. For NBN satisfaction, all providers scored within 1% of their overall internet plan results, though the rankings did change between the two data sets.
Given 79% of respondents claimed to have an NBN connection, the similarity of scores is unsurprising.
We didn't have enough NBN data to report on iPrimus or AGL for NBN satisfaction.
About this survey
Australians aged 18 years and over told us about their experience with their internet service provider in an online survey. Of those who completed the survey, 1734 respondents said they have a home internet connection.
Quotas were placed for state, gender and age to ensure we received 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 make sure it's nationally representative.
This survey was in field on 1–17 February 2023. The survey was approximately 10 minutes long. CHOICE designed the survey and fieldwork, and survey execution was managed by Dynata (formerly Research Now SSI, who conducted the fieldwork for our 2017, 2019 and 2021 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.