Which Telco and ISP should you be with? Which mobile phone?

Reuben reviews the telecommunications industry. 

Which Telco? 

Telecom is now called Spark. If you are comparing Vodafone and Spark, you'll probably end up paying $5 more a month to Spark depending on the package, but that will be well worth the spend when you want support. When you call Spark, you will be told at the start of the call how long the wait time, and you get to talk to someone who learned to speak english in NZ, so they will understand you quickly. Vodafone will have you on hold indefinitely, and even then, you may have called the wrong support number, even if you call the phone number on the invoice received. So if you want to save $5 a month, go to Vodafone. If you want good support go with Telecom. If you want to save $5 more go with 2degrees, but they may not have coverage where you need it. 

Irrespective of who you choose, make sure you get a discount for a connected contract mobile account. (The account can be separate, but only 1 discount per phone.)

Once you sign up to an ISP, take great care to not change to often. Inevitably, outages occur during any change of provider for fixed lines. 


Getting Naked 

Irrespective of which Telco you choose, you should be getting a naked internet connection. That means no old school phone line. On average, you pay about $35 for a home phone line, and you'd be better off putting that spend on your mobile phone. Most mobile phone plans of $35 and above, have more minutes than most people need, and a best mate plan will cover off the most called numbers. 

Getting rid of your home phone will also get rid of annoying calls from sales people, surveys and other unwanted callers. 

Faxes won't work on voip numbers, but you can stop using the fax. 

0800 Business Numbers

For businesses who need an incoming number, i suggest you get an 0800 number from 2talk. 2Talk specialise in Voip, but using their web based configuration you can set up voice menus for your team, and forward calls to everyones mobiles if they are not at their desk. 

If you make alot of outbound calls, then invest in a voip headset for your computer, and use 2talk voip service as above. If you have VDSL or fibre, the call quality will be great. Don't use this method on ADSL.

The cost of 2talk is less than a landline cost.  Learn more about 2talk

Fibre, VDSL or ADSL?

If you can get Fibre, get it. If you can't get fibre, then get VDSL. If you can't get VDSL, get ADSL. They all pretty much cost the same, so get the fastest you can. Installation of all of them are either free, or significantly discounted on a 12 month contract. It only costs about $10 more a month to get unlimited, so get unlimited plans, and let your staff or the kids go crazy streaming movies and other content. 

They all have similar outages. Faster is just faster, it doesn't mean it won't have outages. Often outages relate to connectivity at the ISP, international link, or just some technition accidently knocking a wire when setting up a neighbours address.. 

Mobile Phones and Mobile Plans

If you havent reviewed your mobile plan in the last year, then you are probably paying too much.

Most plans on $35 or more a month, now include unlimited texts, and enough minutes for most ordinary team members. 

Heavy use sales people may want a higher plan. The main point of difference between phone plans is data. The cheaper plans have plenty of data for ordinary use, but if you watch videos on facebook every day, then you might want a bigger plan. You can decrease your data use if you use WIFI at home and in the office... Then you only need the lowest price mobile plan. 

Avoid contracts for phone/plan bundles. In most cases, it is cheaper to buy your phone outright, and then get the best plan for your usage. Even if the bundle plan seems good value this year, it won't be good value next year, so year 2 costs more than you might have spent if you had bought the phone for cash. In any case, check with your provider as to the end of your contract, and as soon as you are out of contract, review your plan, you will probably save 50%. 

The best place to buy a mobile phone is via the cheapest shop on www.pricespy.co.nz, or get the app. Before you buy any electronic device, you should check the price on pricespy. But beware, parallel imported products often have slower warranty resolutions. e.g. an authorised reseller like a well known chain store, will have your phone fixed in under 2 weeks, but a parallel importer, may send the phone overseas, and you may be without it for 6 weeks... 

iPhone or Android?

It doesn't really matter, but if you have an extra $100 and really have no techno ability, get an iphone. For the vast majority of us, just get an android phone. Android phones come from lots of different manufacturers. Basically if its not Apple or Windows, then its android.  

Personally i think bigger is better, i like the large format smart phones. I spend more time interacting with my screen than i do talking, so i don't care if it looks too big beside my head. As long as it fits in your pocket or purse, then the biggest you can get is the right size.

Bundled Television

It's cheaper to get Sky via Vodafone, but you can't do it if you have fibre, then you get sky via your vodafoneTV box. The user interface to vodafone TV is aweful, and it's slow to change channels. It's prone to failure, and doing without TV for a few days is not a solution. I would just stay away from Vodafone TV if i was you. 

SkyTV is over priced, but they have the market locked up. It's the only place you can watch "Game of Thrones" legally at the earliest posible release. If you don't want to pay $1000 a year to Sky, then check what you are watching, perhaps most of it is freeview channels anyway. If so, invest about $400-$500 in a MyFreeview box so that you can have the benefits of EPG series linking without being tied to Sky.

Spark (aka telecom) will soon be launching a service called "Lightbox" where you can pay a much lower subscription price for streamed content. It will be in HD they say, but that has many different meanings. If you have ever watched TVNZ or TV3 on demand, via fast internet, you will understand what i mean.. That's not HD! Initially Lightbox will only be available via web browsers and ipads, so it's not much use for your 54 inch tv in the living room, but time will tell. In any case, it will be a good competitor for Netflix.

All the kids are just downloading and streaming pirated content mainly thanks to a well known celebrity in NZ, and many others avoid border control and use NetFlix to watch content the same way Americans can. Officially you can't do that in NZ, but it seems alot do... 

In Summary, 

Get unlimited fastest naked internet for about $85 a month, ditch the home line.

If you are a business, get an 0800 number and voip service from 2talk, about $35 spend a month for a small business.

Downgrade your mobile plans, you will probably only need a $35 plan per staff member. 

It doesn't matter what smart phone you buy, as long as it has a big screen, and a NZ based warranty service.

If you don't watch much sport, then ditch SkyTV, and invest in a myFreeview recorder, and get Lightbox or Netflix on a streaming device like Apple TV or similar. 

If you take this advice, your total spend on telecomunications will be well under $200 a month... Compare that to what you spent last year!

Posted: Thursday 21 August 2014


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