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Networking

I'm looking for a reasonable wireless Internet plan that will not break the bank.

I'm looking for a reasonable wireless Internet plan that will not break the bank.

You've got quite a few options to get online wirelessly.

For home use you could get an ADSL or cable service and use a wireless router to allow you to connect wirelessly around the house. But to get your laptop online when you're out and about, you'll need a mobile broadband or wireless internet provider. The big players in Australia are Telstra, Optus, 3, Vodafone, Unwired and iBurst.

Ask yourself some questions first before signing up:

  • Where do I intend to connect to the Internet?
  • How much data, on average, will I use each month?
  • Is this intended to be my home Internet connection, too?
  • What connectivity does my laptop offer (eg. Bluetooth, USB, ExpressCard)?
  • What download speeds will I be comfortable with?
  • How much am I prepared to pay per month?

ISPs offer vastly different coverage areas, hardware packages, customer service, download speeds, download quotas and roaming charges -- doing your homework and shopping around will get you the best deal for your needs.

Our reviews of the latest wireless broadband services from 3, Telstra and Vodafone are a good place to start. Unwired and iBurst also offer wireless plans, but only in metro areas.

You can get monthly accounts or pay-as-you-go for wireless hotspots from companies like Starbucks and Azure resellers, but these aren't as flexible and you need to be in the vicinity of one.

You could also use a mobile phone to connect your laptop to the internet wherever you are, although check you're getting the best value by considering added cost of another device (and plan). The recent CNET.com.au Editors' Choice Award winning Palm Treo 750 is a good choice if you choose to go down this path.