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VoIP & NBN Phone Lines

The National Broadband Network has done a lot to change the way Australians use the internet. With a faster and more consistent connection thanks to the use of fibre optic cable, it’s essentially done away with the need for the old copper wires traditionally used for ADSL connections and home phones. So, what does this mean for Australians who still want a landline? While there are plenty of people choosing to drop the home phone line in exchange for cheap mobile plans with unlimited calls, there’s also the option to get a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service.


How does VoIP work?

VoIP essentially allows traditional phone services to be done over computer networks. It converts analogue voice calls into packets of data, like an electronic envelope, and then transmits it over the internet.

Traditional copper-wire phone services needed a physical connection to the copper wires, and would transmit analogue signals through the copper wire from your home to your telephone service provider’s central office. Now, with VoIP it’s those analogue signals (when you speak into the phone) that are turned into packets of data and instead of using the copper wires, you simply plug your phone into your modem.

VoIP home phones still let you call landlines and mobile phones, just over the internet rather than a copper wire phone connection.

How do I get an NBN phone line?

Most of the time to get VoIP you need an NBN service or other type of home broadband, though with the National Broadband Network rollout this usually means an NBN plan. Typically this means bundling your NBN plan with a VoIP line, though some providers like Southern Phone offer VoIP plans separately. You simply sign up for the NBN plan you want, and choose which type of VoIP service is best for you. Most ISPs offer a few different options for VoIP, such as:

 PAYG: Pay-as-you-go VoIP simply means you don’t pay the same rate every month for your VoIP service, only for the service you use. These typically mean you’ll pay somewhere between 20c-30c per call, depending on if it’s to a landline, mobile, 13/1300 number, or international. At the end of the month, you simply pay what you owe.

 Local and national unlimited calls: These plans usually offer unlimited calls to standard Australian numbers, such as landlines, mobile phones, and 13/1300 numbers. There might be certain types of calls that are excluded, and these usually don’t come with any international call options.

 International call packs: These VoIP plans are often the most expensive, but offer the most inclusions. Typically you can get unlimited standard national calls, as well as either unlimited calls, or a set number of minutes or credits, for international numbers.

You’ll typically find call packs cost between $10-$20 extra, on top of your NBN service. If you know you’re not someone who uses the landline frequently, but you still want a home phone, PAYG is a good option for cutting down costs. However, if you frequently call international friends and family on your home phone, that extra $10-$20 per month will often work out to be quite cheaper than PAYG.

Do I need an NBN phone line?

The short answer is no. Unlike ADSL, which required an active phone line that you needed to pay a monthly rental fee for, the beauty of the NBN is that you don’t need to have a phone line and oftentimes it’s quite cheaper to forgo it completely. A VoIP plan can add another $10-$20 per month, on top of what you pay for broadband, and a good mobile phone plan can be much cheaper and simpler to use.

Looking to ditch the landline? Compare mobile phone plans to find a replacement for your home phone

Providers that offer NBN phone lines

Most NBN providers offer VoIP services as an alternative to the old fixed-phone lines, and most of the time you can even use your old handset without needing to purchase any new technology. With over 100 NBN providers, it’s impossible to list them all out but below you can find a selection of the biggest and best NBN providers that offer VoIP services with NBN.

Aussie Broadband VoIP

If you need a phone line with your Aussie Broadband NBN, there are three VoIP call packs to choose from.

  • Casual: PAYG plan for $0 per month, with PAYG rates for local, national, and mobile numbers and international calls from 5c/minute.
  • Everyday: $10 per month for free local, national, and mobile numbers (13 & 1300 numbers not included), and international calls from 5c/min.
  • International Talk: $20 per month for free local, national, and mobile numbers, international calls from 5c/min, and $15 Talk Time credit for select countries and 13/1300 numbers.

Exetel VoIP

If you opt for an Exetel NBN plan and want to get in on their VoIP plans you have two options; pay-as-you-go or unlimited calls for $10 per month. With PAYG phone service from Exetel, all calls except Exetel to Exetel numbers come at a cost. This includes:

  • Unlimited local and national calls: 10c/call
  • Australian mobiles: 20c/minute
  • 13/1300 calls: 25c/call
  • Untimed 1223: $1/call
  • Untimed 1225: $1.65/call

However, for an additional $10 per month, you can get unlimited calls to local and national numbers, unlimited 13/1300 calls, unlimited calls to Australian mobiles, and even unlimited international calls to select countries including New Zealand, USA, UK; Hong Kong, China, Japan, and more.

Flip

Cheap NBN and mobile phone provider Flip offers three optional phone packs to bundle with their NBN plans. Unfortunately with Flip you need to pay a flat rate even if you choose a PAYG plan, but with such cheap Flip NBN deals you’ll probably still end up paying less than many other $0 PAYG options.

  • Basic: PAYG with a $2.95 per month fee. Local calls start at 20c/call, national calls at 20c/minute, and mobile calls at 33c/minute.
  • Standard: $9.95 per month with unlimited local and national calls. Mobile calls at 33c/minute.
  • Bonus: $19.95 per month with unlimited local, national, and mobile calls.

iiNet VoIP

iiNet customers who want a home phone can choose between a PAYG call plan for $0 per month, or one (or both) of their two optional call packs.

  • For $5 per month, iiNet NBN customers can get unlimited local, national, and Australian mobile calls
  • For $10 per month, get the iiNet International Call Pack with unlimited calls to landlines in 20 select international destinations.

Or choose both call packs to get unlimited calls both in Australia, and abroad, for $15 per month plus the cost of iiNet’s NBN plan.

Southern Phone VoIP

As its name suggests, Southern Phone deals in phones and offers VoIP as both a standalone option (meaning you can sign up for your broadband service with a different provider), or bundled with Southern Phone’s own NBN plans on a 24-month contract and get a free modem included with your service.

Southern Phone NBN + VoIP bundles
Plan Typical evening speed Call inclusions Cost / month
NBN Basic
100GB of data
12Mbps Local calls: Unlimited
National calls: Unlimited
AU mobiles: 37c/min capped at $1.49 for 10 min 13 numbers: 40c / call
$60 / month first 24 months
$85 / month first 24 months
(min. cost: $1,440 over 24 months)
NBN Basic
Unlimited data
12Mbps Local calls: Unlimited
National calls: Unlimited
AU mobiles: 37c/min capped at $1.49 for 10 min 13 numbers: 40c / call
$70 / month first 24 months
$75 / month after
(min. cost: $1,680 over 24 months)
NBN Standard
Unlimited data
25Mbps Local calls: Unlimited
National calls: Unlimited
AU mobiles: Unlimited 13 numbers: 40c / call
$75 / month first 24 months
$95 / month after
(min. cost: $1,800 over 24 months)
NBN Turbo
Unlimited data
47Mbps Local calls: Unlimited
National calls: Unlimited
AU mobiles: Unlimited 13 numbers: 40c / call
$85 / month first 24 months
$105 / month after
(min. cost: $2,040 over 24 months)

Source: Providers individual websites. Actual offers may vary. Actual speeds may vary. Comparison does not include all providers, products, or plan features. Valid August 2021.

If you prefer Southern Phone standalone VoIP you can choose one of the following:

  • Small: $10 per month with PAYG calling
  • Medium: $20 per month with unlimited local and national calls but PAYG calls to Australian mobiles and 13 numbers
  • Large: $30 per month with unlimited local, national, and AU mobile calls, plus PAYG calls to 13 numbers
  • Extra Large: $40 per month with unlimited local, national, and AU mobile calls, plus unlimited landline calls to select international destinations.

Telstra VoIP

Telstra is one of the few NBN providers that already bundle their NBN plan and VoIP, giving customers included and unlimited calls to local, mobile, and national numbers, as well as calls to 13 numbers, and varying rates for international calls. If you know you’ll be doing a lot of international calling, however, you can add their International Call Pack for an additional $15 per month.

  • Unlimited calls to local, national, and standard mobile numbers
  • Call connection fee included
  • Unlimited free calls to 1223, 1234, 12456
  • International call rates vary

What about free VoIP for mobile phones?

Chances are you’ve used, or at least heard of, some common VoIP programs. Most of these are free services you can use on your mobile phone or computer, but you might need to pay for additional features such as calling non-VoIP phone lines (such as landlines), or calling outside of the application. These include:

  • WhatsApp
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Google Voice
  • Viber
  • Skype
  • FaceTime Audio

With these services, all you need is to connect your phone or computer to a broadband connection, whether that’s the NBN or the mobile broadband network, and most offer free messaging services in addition to calls.

VoIP FAQ

How much data does VoIP use?

VoIP, in general, neither needs particularly fast download and upload speeds nor uses a lot of data for calls. With most NBN plans coming in at 20Mbps download speed or greater and almost all now offering unlimited data, how much data your VoIP service uses shouldn’t be a real cause for concern.

  • While actual numbers vary, you generally need to have at least 100kbps download/upload speed for VoIP calls, but at least 1Mbps is recommended.
  • VoIP calls can typically use anywhere between 10MB and 40MB of data per hour of call.
The only real concern is if you're using one of the free mobile phone VoIP services such as WhatsApp audio or FaceTime audio while on mobile broadband, as most mobile phone plans still come with a limited amount of data. For a home VoIP line, however, whatever your NBN plan is should be enough.

Can I keep my number with VoIP?

If you’ve had the same phone number for years, and have an attachment to it, the good news is that in general you can keep your old phone number when switching from fixed-line to VoIP home phone services. It’s always best to double check with your ISP, but most of the time it is possible to port your current number to VoIP or between VoIP services.

Is VoIP better than the old fixed phone lines?

The main issue with VoIP is that it relies on the strength of your broadband connection, whether that’s in your home using your NBN phone line or out and about using one of the mobile options available while on the mobile network. If any of us have used WhatsApp audio, FaceTime Audio, or Facebook Messenger, we all know the struggle of losing connection when trying to call a friend. However, for your home NBN phone line, VoIP is just as good as the traditional fixed-phone line.

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