Excess bandwidth charges in Australia

What is bandwidth?

A quick explanation for non-techies. Think of an internet connection like a water pipe. You can choose what size of pipe to order. The bigger the pipe, the higher the water pressure. Internet is the same. But as well as the speed / size of your pipe, you also have to think about your total usage. So how many litres of water you pull through the pipe. In internet terms, that’s bandwidth usage.

Typically, in the UK / Europe / US / Canada, you choose your size of pipe, and that’s it. You can run the water almost as much as you like. If you leave all your taps on all the time, the company will complain. But otherwise, you’ll be fine. Not so in Australia. All connections charge you per litre, or in internet terms, per gigabyte. It’s the same in South Africa.

It’s not such a bad deal. The more water (or bandwidth) you use, the more you pay. Seems fair enough.


You choose your quantity up front. So you might pay for 2Gb or 4Gb or even 40Gb. The pain comes if you should go over your pre-ordered usage. Your pre-ordered bandwidth will cost you anywhere from $2.50 to $10 per Gb depending on how much you buy. Once you go over that, the excess charges are typically described as “15c per Mb”. That’s $150 per Gb.

Your first 6Gb cost $10 each, then use one more by mistake, oops, here’s a bill for $150. Arrrgggghhhhhh.

In South Africa when you run out, your connection shuts off. Then you can call your company and pay for some more. At a little over the regular price. In Australia excess bandwidth costs 15 to 60 times more than standard bandwidth. If I were an Australian citizen I’d campaign to have this type of excess charging banned.

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