Reader Steve wrote asking for internet and mobile suggestions for seniors. You know those that eschew NBN, hate Tel$tra, don’t want to be tempted by the Apple ecosystem and just want it to work.
What Steve really wanted was advice to help him avoid being ripped off by Telcos, smartphone and laptop sellers. I will summarise Steve’s request on advice for Internet and mobile suggestions for seniors
- Don’t use or need Microsoft Office 365 (Word/Excel/Outlook, etc.). What that means is no need for an ongoing $129 per year subscription
- Current data use is two-to-four GB per month via Vodafone 4G modem ($15/5G over 36 months)
- Wants flexibility to change plans – no lock-ins
- Needs a decent mobile to replace an aging Sony Experia (he is a ‘value’ person but wants good quality)
- Needs a laptop/computer/tablet for emails, manage accounts and payments, and Google for research.
- Does not play games or stream
- Mainly uses devices at home although may travel
Steve is not alone. Tens of thousands of seniors have been conned into home NBN, mobile phone voice/data plans (that are not great value) and the wrong laptop/computer/tablet for even basic productivity needs.
And if you are like my septuagenarian neighbours on a fixed income you need to simplify life and stop getting bills for everything.
So, here is a technology savvy sexagenarian’s Internet and mobile suggestions for seniors
There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but the trick is to identify your needs and use and try to avoid duplication.
Let’s look at NBN first
NBN is a voice and data solution at home. You need to know that you pay for speed and data.
Speed-wise a 12 or 25Mbps plan is fine for most smaller households and allows for Netflix and other streaming. You only need more if you stream a lot (multiple TVs or computers) and have a heavy use for work, e.g. VPN, remote work etc. Then you can upgrade to 50Mbps or 100Mbps plans.
Data wise it depends on your use. My wife and I are remote workers, like streaming (we hardly watch free to air TV) so we chew up somewhere between 100 and 200GB a month (occasionally when the family is staying, we may double that).
So, it makes sense for us to have the 100Mbps, Unlimited $99 plan. We also set our phones to use VoWi-Fi (voice-over Wi-Fi calling) and Wi-Fi data so when we are at home; we are not using mobile data. Put simply that reduces the need to have a larger mobile phone plan.
And if you are a senior faced with NBN don’t be conned – you can get a voice only (no data) plan at pretty much the same cost as you pay now (about $25 a month)
Research how much data you really need. Then go to Whistleout (a good place to research plans) but be aware it does not compare all providers and makes a commission or receives a click-through payment.
OK you don’t want NBN and don’t need a landline
I suspect that the two-to-four GB Steve talks about may severely increase once he discovers Netflix etc. – but more on that later.
Most mobile phone carriers (whether Telstra, Optus or Vodafone or a reseller) have mobile broadband. You can read more from GadgetGuy here. This is what Steve uses to get Broadband at home for ‘emails, manage accounts and payments, and Google for research’.
These are usually too slow to stream TV and often only have 5/10/20GB monthly data allowances. WhistleOut has plans here.
But there is another way – use your mobile phone as a ‘tether’ to the laptop for internet
Back to Steve, he wants a new mobile phone and a new computing device.