Recession Busters: Telecommunications
Reporter: Helen Wellings
Broadcast Date: April 15, 2009
With more mobile phones than people in Australia and 300,000 of us disconnecting landlines each year, we show you how to save money on your phone.
You can say goodbye to home telephone bills. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) enables you to make and receive phone calls using your old telephone handset but without having your phone connected.
It works via the internet and with a VoIP box (about $60-$100) you could save up to $360 a year just on line rental.
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With VoIP, some calls can cost on 10 cents to anywhere in Australia. They are unlimited and untimed.
Calls to mobiles cost 24 cents per minute with no flag fall.
Doug Purdie runs Phonechoice, a free comparison website to help you find the best deal for your home phone, mobile or broadband.
"More and more people are now ditching their landline and switching to VoIP or Skype," he said.
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"The average person is spending $20 a month too much on their mobile phone bill, that is $240 a year they could be saving."
There are still reasons to be careful with your selection.
Teresa Corbin from Consumers' Telecommunications Network urges selecting a plan with a clearly defined cap or opt for prepaid. But prepaid is not for you if you are a high user.
"There are a lot of misleading terms out there such as free and unlimited and the truth is there is nothing free or unlimited, there is always an exclusion," she said.
"There is a little asterisk, that means there is something written somewhere else that you really need to be careful of."
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You will not make much headway with savings until you sit down and assess how you and your family use your phones.
Have a look at your bills, how many calls you make, how long they are, where are you ringing, then you can determine the best and cheapest plan for you, but beware locking into long contracts.
Doug explained that many plans now are 24 month plans.
"That's a long time, I don't know what I am doing in 24 months and most people don't," he said.
"You might be out of a job in 12 months.
"Because it says, for example, $49 a month gives you $300 worth of calls, what they do is they can change the call rates so that you use up that $300 worth of calls very, very quickly and before you know it you are over your cap and you get a big bill."
Voicemail is a waste of money for most people and message bank fees can easily be about 50 per cent of your bill.
Another thing to be careful of is 13 and 18 numbers on you mobile. They are not actually free on the mobile, they are still a timed call.
Another tip with a mobile is if you are near a landline, then use it.
With texting, you are charged the same amount no matter how short your text is and long messages are expensive as they are broken up and charged as multiple texts.
Beware one of the biggest money spinners is unsolicited premium SMS.
You can sign up for these without realising, then find it hard to cancel.
With broadband, the main trap is exceeding your limit downloading songs or movies.
Saving internet costs can be easy by avoiding contracts with huge exit fees. You want to be able to take advantage of broadband deals that are getting cheaper and better.
"With broadband you need to have a look and make sure you go for a plan that includes throttling, which means over your megabyte usage or gigabyte usage in the month, they slow the speed down rather than charging you extra," Doug said.
Bundling all your telecommunications with the one company plan might seem convenient but may not be value for money.
"You really need to be careful with them because you can roll all sorts of things into a bundle and the sums to work out if it is a good deal at the end of the day are very complicated," Doug said.
The best way of saving money is get all the family to study their bills.
Consumers' Telecommunications Network