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Setting up the Internet, mobile phones and home utilities in Australia

Not to be forgotten on that "moving house" checklist are the niggling mandatories in life – the Internet, mobile phones and household utilities. Here’s how to set them up in Australia.

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You might take household utilities for granted in New Zealand, but you’ll soon remember their importance when you land in Australia. Now, where to start organising it all? Indeed, you shouldn’t jump on the first plan or provider you find, especially when setting up an Internet/broadband or a mobile phone plan. So before you commit to a purchase, compare your options. It could work in your favour and save you heaps.


Mobile phones

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You might already have a mobile phone that you plan to take with you to Australia, but you might want to consider purchasing a local SIM and a local phone plan when you arrive. If you’re planning to remain in Australia for a while and call or message Australian phones, this may save you a lot of money compared to putting your international number on roaming.

Depending on your needs, you have various options for mobile phone plans, and each provider has different “bonuses” and offers. As a Kiwi, you might like to look into plans that have low call rates to New Zealand so that you can remain in contact with your family and friends without added fees and charges.

How do I apply for a mobile phone/plan in Australia?

Different providers may have a different set of eligibility requirements and processes to apply for and set up your mobile phone plan. However, there are a few key things that can make setting up a phone much easier. They are:

  • Ask questions: Many mobile phone providers have online chat forums, telephone help services and stores throughout Australia. Once you consider all your options and are aware of what you want/need in a phone plan, you can contact a representative of your chosen provider to clarify details and help you set up your phone.
  • Personal contact details: In Australia, to purchase a phone and/or SIM, you might need to provide certain identification details, including name, date of birth, a photograph, signature, current Australian residential address and a current contactable phone number. If you don’t have a set address yet, that might still be okay as some providers accept your travel accommodation (hotel/motel) as a valid form of address.
  • Personal identification documents: Some providers might require you to support the activation of your plan with identification documents. These can include a valid passport and visa (if needed), bank account statements, ATM card, a valid Medicare card, utility bills in your name, credit cards and a driver’s licence. A list of acceptable forms of identification is given to you by the provider during the application process.
  • Low credit risk: If you’re new to Australia, you probably don’t have a bad credit rating with any phone providers, which may have seen your application being denied. However, the provider may request proof that you can finance your phone plan.

Once you purchase your plan and activate it (usually using your personal identification details), you can start using your phone.


Setting up the Internet and broadband

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Australia is fast transitioning to a digital future with an Australia-wide plan to upgrade the fixed-line telephone and Internet network to high-speed broadband. Many main cities can already access broadband service, and you can utilise this with a suitable broadband/Internet plan.

Depending on your needs, you have various options to choose from when it comes to Internet providers and their services. These options include fixed landline Internet, broadband (ADSL), mobile wireless broadband, and bundled packages, including mobile and Internet services. The speed and amount of data you wish to download per month also plays a part as, naturally, it costs. Carry out research and compare your options before you commit to the best service for your situation.

How do I apply for an Internet bundle in Australia?

Once you decide on a suitable provider, you can then begin the application process, which may be done in-store or online for your convenience. If you wish to purchase broadband for your home, the provider needs to assess whether your residence is in an eligible area for the service before continuing with your application.

During the application process, you need to provide your personal details, including name, address, date of birth, contact phone number and contact email address. Some form of identification is also required, for example, either an Australian driver’s licence or an international passport number, so it’s good to have these handy for a smooth application process.

NB: If you’ve just landed or are still setting up home in Australia, it might be good to scout around and see where your nearest Wi-Fi hotspots are so you still have access to the Internet. Places such as shopping centres, libraries, coffee shops and some fast food outlets tend to be good options for free Wi-Fi.


Home utilities

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If you’re currently renting or are in student accommodation, your home utility bills (water, gas, electricity) might be incorporated in your rent, or you might be charged separately for these by your landlord. However, if you’ve purchased a home or you are responsible for the household utility bills, you need to know your options.

Australia has several providers for energy and gas needs, including EnergyAustralia, Origin Energy and AGL. Some providers service specific states only (e.g. ActewAGL offers residential energy to the ACT and certain parts of NSW). If you’re in a position to choose which provider you deal with, then it’s recommended you compare their prices (taking into account their fees as well) to get the most out of your energy and electricity. Another option that may be available to you is solar power. While this is still a relatively emerging form of energy, it’s still worth comparing for long-term benefits.

Different water companies service different areas in Australia, so you might not have too much of a choice when it comes to which company supplies your water. Nevertheless, you should still do your research to find out what options are available for your home.

Bear in mind that different states charge different rates for household services, so some cities may be more expensive than others when it comes to the average cost of utilities.


How do I pay for my Internet, mobile phone and utility bills?

Each provider has its own set of options for paying your bills. Generally, you are either billed by paper (a bill in the post) or electronically (a bill via email). Your bill states how much you owe, the due date and the methods of payment you can use. If you have any queries or are unsure how to pay your bill, you can directly contact your provider. Many bills allow you to pay via credit card and direct deposit and others allow you to pay via the Internet. In contrast, some might allow you to set up a direct debit, which takes the money owed out of your account on a specific date – so you don’t have to worry about missing a payment and any additional fees that can come with this.

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