OMG Internet in Australia is so bad (Travel challenges)

As I write this, my Google Chrome browser wheel is on spin.

It’s been that way for the past five minutes. I’m diverting over to my Windows Live Writer to catch up on writing while I wait.

Waiting on Australian internet happens a lot.

We’re in Yallingup, a coastal town not far from Margaret River. Margs is a decent size town and very touristy. The facilities should be in place, just like they should have been in Cairns Australia’s most popular tourist destination.

We stayed nearly two weeks, thinking we could mix up fun exploring the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest, with a bit of online work at the Caravan Park.

But, we couldn’t get on. It was one of the worst services we’ve experienced so far – that is in the places where you get service.

When we signed up to Optus – because they were cheaper – they told us they had 95% of the coverage that Telstra did. They don’t. We’ve travelled the country to verify it.

We had to buy a Telstra mobile broadband device to cover us for that long stretch across the Top End where an Optus signal could not be found. Yep. If you want to fail in business in Australia, travel the country and then choose Optus as your internet provider.

It infuriates us for two reasons

1. We live in a wealthy country. If I can get high-speed internet for $20 a month and unlimited data in the hills of Chiang Rai Thailand, I should be able to get online in Cairns!

2. Even though I understand our country is vast and unpopulated, so there will be places internet won’t be, I’m infuriated that I have to pay over $330 a month for a substandard service. If you give me quality less than par with the hill tribes of Thailand then charge me a price that matches that.

Three hours ago, the internet went from working fine to that painful spin, taking me 15 minutes to send out a tweet.

I am not kidding you – 15 minutes to send out a one-sentence tweet.

I try hard to control my rage and frustration. Thoughts of the next tweet being, I hate Optus, I hate Optus, I hate Optus until I took up the 140 character limit. The internet will be like this now until about 10 pm tonight. No joke. I tested it yesterday.

We have such limited time to work on our online business. When we do get the hours we have our list of things to do, and we know we can get through them as we’re super focused and very efficient at getting things done quickly.

So when you rock up to get the shit done and the internet fails you, you just want to sob – and sometimes you do – because you’ve lost that small window of work time for the day and now you’re further behind and completely stressed out.

Can you imagine the frustration?

Think about your job for a second. What is the most vital tool you need to be successful with your job? How do you feel if you’ve got one that doesn’t work? What does it do with your productivity? How do you earn an income? What happens to your family? Do you want to cry and rage too?

The thing is, if you have a job you might still get paid even if your tools don’t work. if we don’t produce, we don’t earn. If we don’t have internet we can’t produce or earn.

Instead of paying 5 star prices for 1 star service, I want to send Optus a big fat invoice for the amount they have cost us in loss of productivity and income.

Of course, we’re still with them because it costs a lot to get out of our contract. We thought being out of the Top End things would be better. See what an optimist I am. I forgot about Cairns.

I forgot about often not being able to send a Facebook update in the streets of Sydney.

I forgot about the time we attended a world surfing contest in Newcastle to promote their event, sponsored by Optus, and we couldn’t get service! In Newcastle!!

Oh, and try making a Skype call to family and friends whilst you’re on the road. Or to call your web designer while you’re redesigning your website.

And if you’re in a town that swells during the busy school holidays, forget trying to get online, the towers can’t handle the extra demand!!!

AND climbing to the top of a hill with your laptops trying to get connected is common practice out here.

I kid you not.

people using computers on a hiking trail

I reflect back on those two weeks we just spent in the US. God life is easy there. I didn’t even have a sim or a phone plan. I just walked into the supermarket and connected to free wi-fi.

See, here’s our Instagram update enjoying the free wine tasting at Whole Foods, using their free wi-fi.

people eating food

And it was fast. It didn’t matter how many people were using it. I tested it, like at LAX and busy cafes and bars and laundromats, and…Super fast and FREE!!


I was having an issue with my Spotify account recently. There was some bug that was deleting all my downloaded songs. We have the premium version because there is no way we can continually stream with the high data costs in Australia.

But, if I can find a place with fast connection, I can generally download an album here and there to stay within my data amounts and have music to listen to offline.

Spotify’s customer service was excellent and they gave me a month’s free subscription to make up for the loss of my songs. They heard my pain when I explained how much I would be charged if I had to download those songs again.

“You have no idea how expensive internet is in Australia. I can’t go over my data limits.”

“You do know that you can download songs over free Wi-Fi? So you don’t have to worry about that.”

“Dude. I live in Australia. You don’t get free anything!! If any place advertises free wi-fi I just laugh and turn my own dongle on because it won’t work or it’s so freaking slow I can’t even update a Facebook or send a text message.”

He commiserated and laughed along with me.

That’s running a business in Australia.

It causes us a hell of a problem and a lot of stress and is the single biggest reason why I’ve wanted to quit this road trip.

Telstra’s coverage is better. Their service is faster and more efficient. But they are more expensive and their customer service is crap. They’ve had the market from day one and they know it, they don’t give a shit. Optus are pretty quick to respond and help if you get your cranky pants on over Twitter.

I wear my cranky pants a lot

Like now, waiting for the wheel to stop spinning and just load the goddamn page!

There was this one time at the mining town of Tom Price in Western Australia, after returning from Karijini National Park and learning we missed out on a contract worth good money because we didn’t have internet access and couldn’t respond to a timely email, I launched a sale for our eBook.

There was a glitch in my Ontraport set up, which meant no one could buy the book. Yep. Troubleshooting that one in a quick manner was an exercise in how many times you could swear in one sentence.

Of course the service was shit, so I couldn’t troubleshoot and my connection to my Ontraport helper kept dropping and we’d have to start the chat over again. I begged him to fix the issue for me because I couldn’t even log into the site.

He wasn’t allowed to do that. I finally managed to get it fixed in spurts of when the Chrome wheel stopped spinning and actually worked for five minutes. But, the next morning another issue sprang up and people couldn’t buy the books.

I wanted to die of embarrassment. I felt so unprofessional and again so stressed out. I had to drive around the town at 6am to find the spot where I could get decent service. It was like those advertising commercials that came out ten years ago about finding the spot where your call wouldn’t be dropped.

Except this is fucking 2015. Am I stuck in a freakin’ time warp! Wake up Australia, it’s no longer the industrial age, it’s the information age!

I had to sit in the car with the hot sun beating down on me (it’s damn hot near Karijini) for two hours while I fixed it. I’ll add that to the Optus bill.

There’s the constant problem of having to download an app, or training video, or podcast. You know the stuff that is essential to your business. It gets halfway through and then the internet drops and you have to start again.

So on the first attempt it got downloaded 20mb of data. Then you attempt again and it gets through 35mb of data an then on the third it finally downloads all of it before the internet drops, but instead of downloading only 40mb of the original file, you’ve used 95mb because the internet is so bad. Oh yeah and you’re paying for that. At 10cents per mb should you go over your limits!

You can see how easy it is to go over your limits when you’re having to do things three or four times.

[Update: Just yesterday I had to download a 287mb file. It got halfway through and it fucking dropped. Ended up turning into half a gig file to download. Yeah, I’ll pay for that one. Btw, this post is taking awhile to write. Too many drop outs.]

This one was great. There was that time when my account was registering that I was using 8GB a day. Can you imagine my heart attack?!

On a heavy duty work day, Craig and I would use at most 1.5 GB. I am very good at monitoring my data usage because I don’t want to pay excess fees. (But get this right, data recording can be up to 48 hours delayed, so tell me how they can charge you excess data when you can’t properly monitor your usage?!)

I knew it was impossible that we were using this amount each day because we were out exploring Broome and doing things like our Horizontal Falls tour and left with only about two hours of work time a day.

We rarely download anything that consumes a lot of data. I checked to ensure nothing was running in the background several times on both computers. We each have our own separate device, yet they were both still running so high. There was some huge tech bug going on.

On one of those 8GB days we road tripped for 6 hours and had no internet service. Then there was the five day period over that space where we couldn’t get service. Yet still they had our data usage at close to 80GB for that month. Our biggest to date and we were hardly on it.

Totally loved that $1,000 bill.

I was firing verbal bullets.

Thankfully, I had begun the complaint process when I first noticed something fishy was going on and had plenty of screenshots and data to back up what I was saying.

Optus customer service can be good and they did not charge me for it. But, the dude did tell me that it was probably an email file that did not get sent and so every time I logged on it was trying to send it and was stuck chewing up data.

Oh please. A stuck email chewing up 80GB of data? We don’t send big email files. We use Dropbox for that.

Then one morning in Broome, both our 10 month old phones broke. Mercury Retrograde wreaking havoc. My phone wouldn’t connect to the phone charger properly so I couldn’t charge it. Craig’s screen just went black and it couldn’t be used. We had a work around solution. I’d charge my battery through his phone and then pop it in mine when done. A slight pain in the ass, but something we had to do for weeks.

We couldn’t get replacement phones. Why? Because we were in Broome and there’s no Optus store in Broome! (There’s a Telstra one) The nearest Optus store was Geraldton – a distance of 1,900km away and we weren’t meant to arrive there for five weeks.

Did I mention we use our phones for business?

This didn’t seem to matter too much to the customer service rep I spoke to on chat. I basically got a “too bad you have to go to Geraldton to hand in your own phone before we can send you a new one”. So all Broome residents, if you’re with Optus and have a problem you now have to go to Geraldton.

Rural Australia you’re screwed.

Thankfully the team on Twitter responded when I blew a fuse.

They were more understanding and we agreed the chat lady didn’t know what she was talking about. But, we were still screwed. Despite having a business account and really needing our phones, they seriously couldn’t help us much.

We were due to leave Broome and, because of our transient nature, they couldn’t figure a plan to work around the rules that say you have to pick up your replacement phone from the place you sent the broken one from.

They eventually decided they’d let us send it in from where we were and arrange to have it sent back to us at a different address.

We finally get our phones sent in for warranty repair and then we’re told warranty won’t cover it because there’s a scratch on the screen. Both screens have hair like scratches on it, and have for months and have worked perfectly fine with it. The problem was not with the scratched screen but a phone malfunction.

Too bad. Scratch on the screen. You can’t do a warranty claim. You have to go through Insurance. We pay the insurance excess and they send out the new phones.

So a couple of MONTHS after the phones bust, we both get new phones. Mine couldn’t make it until after our White House trip, even though I pleaded with the Optus guy on the phone, something like this

“Okay so we’ve been invited to White House as one of the top digital travel influencers in the world, and I’m going to be arriving without a working phone!! Do you know how embarrassing that is?”

Of course he could do nothing about that. He did give me $100 credit to buy a crappy Sony smart phone as a sub.

Craig’s new phone arrived a few days before so we weren’t too embarrassed. We get to the States, he buys a $50 data pack on a sim card. I have my dodgy replacement sony phone and don’t buy any data package. I’m connected the entire time because you walk into any freaking store in the states and you have free wi-fi AND fast!

And, even after Craig used his data pack, we didn’t get any excess charges. How’s this? They still let you connect to the internet!!! Just at a slower speed, yet still faster than Optus most of the time.

So I pick up my new phone from the store when we arrive home from the States. It came without a battery or a back cover. “What is this?”

“Did you not keep the battery and back cover of your old phone?”

“No. Nobody told me I had to do that, I sent it in with the broken phone. “

“Oh they shouldn’t have done that.”

The guy finally decided to give me the battery and cover of one of his shop phones.

Then my phone doesn’t work. It’s a brand new phone and I go to the nearest Optus store. Sure enough, it’s dodgy and I discover it’s a RECONDITIONED PHONE!!!

“Huh? Why is it reconditioned?

I pay my monthly insurance premium and I expect a new phone as a replacement, not a second hand dodgy one!”

No answer was really given, but they sent away for me to get a new one.

A week later, I pick up the new phone. This one has a back cover, but no battery!

I ask that it be checked to ensure this one works. I ask why I’ve been given a reconditioned phone AGAIN!

She says, “it’s nothing to do with Optus, it’s the insurance company.” I’m confused because as far as I know I pay Optus the monthly premium for my phone so they should have something to do with it.

“Well it’s the one you chose.”

“What do you mean?”

“They would have given you the choice whether to pay the excess for a new phone or a reconditioned one.”

“Ah. No they didn’t. She told me to pay the excess and they’d send out a new phone. There was no mention of reconditioning or of different excess payments. My husband put his insurance claim in the week before and he got a brand new phone. We pay the same excess.”

“Well I don’t know. It’s an insurance thing, it has nothing to do with us. You’ll have to phone them.”

To which I said, (not out loud),

Fuck it. I’m so fucking tired of Optus and speaking to them at least once a month about their appalling service and never ending billing issues. I can’t stomach having to go through this drama for another six months and tell my story to five different people, multiple times, before I get NO ANSWER!

Which reminds me, we have to ring them on Monday as our phone bill is once gain $140 more than it should be. Trust me, we monitor our data usage carefully and we have not gone over.

AND, because I had to take the battery from a phone in the Optus shop, it’s completely crap and doesn’t last long before needing charging.

It’s now a few weeks after I first started writing this post – it takes that long because of the spinning circle.

The other day, my spiritual teacher, Belinda Davidson, who has made such a difference to my life this past year wanted to chat over Skype. I was so excited to talk to her.

But, of course the internet was playing up. I had to run through the campsite with my broadband device up the air until I found the spot where I had enough bars to sustain a Skype call, without video. It’s so 1980’s.

Yes this is a whingey rant post. We rarely put them on the site, because we do like to focus on the positive and we’ll get back to that soon enough. But sometimes life’s a bitch and it’s good for us to show you the reality of what we do.

Yes, we chose to do this road trip around Australia, but c’mon. Australia is not Sydney and Melbourne! You should be able to see the joint AND run an online business!

It’s no secret

No, it’s not just us, we peak to a lot of foreigners traveling around Australia, and other Aussies, and they are SHOCKED at the high prices and appalling state of the internet.

Not to mention the expats who relocate and it takes FOREVER to get the internet connected in their new homes!

Oh, and what about still having to have a god damn land-line at home to get connected in Australia. Who uses a land-line these days??? Lol.

A reader contacted me the other day asking for my advice about Australian internet. He’s arrived in the country and ready to embrace being a digital nomad and share this beautiful country with his community. But, how could he manage the high expenses and poor quality?

“Oh I am so sorry. I want nothing more than to give you some positive advice here. But, Australian internet is appalling. My only advice is don’t be a digital nomad in Australia.”

Don’t ever. Go to the hills of Chiang Rai in Thailand and pay $20 a month for unlimited fast Wi-Fi rather than $330 for pathetic service that causes you unlimited stress and makes you decide to pack your suitcases and move to America.

For real.

Ah, I suppose I should offer you some helpful tips about Australian internet I guess.

Hmm. Let’s dig real deep here.

Tips for using internet in Australia

  • Optus is cheaper. Telstra has the best coverage. Yeah that.
  • If you’re going rural – which let’s face it is most of the country – Telstra is your only option.
  • Believe it or not, Optus service people are nicer than Telstra. Optus customer service gives me angina, Telstra customer service gives me a heart attack.
  • We have a pre-paid Telstra mobile broadband that we use in the areas we can’t get connected to Wi-Fi. And because Optus still charge you whether you get service or not, our data bill then goes through the roof. We’re adding an extra $100 on this month now we are in the outback again.
  • We have flexible plans with Optus meaning, if we know we’re going to go way under our data allowance, or over, we can phone Optus and change the data limits and pro-rata the cost. This is extremely handy. I do thank you for this Optus! It’s just a headache to maintain. So just phone and say you want to upgrade or downgrade your usage for that month.
  • You need a friggin degree to read a phone/data bill. It just does not make sense and impossible to know what you are being charged for nor how much data you have used. Sorry no tips here.
  • Do as much of your work as you can offline.
  • Use free Wi-Fi. I’m seriously laughing so hard here as I type that. Do not hold your breath, nor rely on it. We don’t even bother connecting any more when we see it advertised. But, you might get lucky so you might as well try. If you do then quickly do as much downloading of your apps and things you need.
  • Our friends at Travel Outback Australia recently reviewed an iSavi Wideye iSatHub as an option for people to get connected when they are out bush away from Telstra or Optus service. Read more about it here
  • Sorry, I just don’t know what else to tell you.

I know there will be some people who’ll like to tell us Australian internet is not so bad and we’re ungrateful and traitors for writing this BUT, this is the truth. We’ve travelled the entire country to find the proof and we speak to many travellers who say the same thing.

It’s no secret, internet in Australia is a joke!

The Truth

We were chatting about it the other night with another Aussie who said something really interesting, yet quite frightening:

“In the past, countries who have kept up with infrastructure have slipped into first world status and thrived. The future is not highways and transportation routes, but internet highways. If Australia doesn’t start getting committed and investing in fixing this we are going to slip way behind”.

Our stupid governments won’t see past their four-year term and selfish pursuits so refuse to see the importance of improving the internet for our future and so won’t invest the money right now as they see it as being too risky for their budgets.

Don’t get me started on Tony Abbot. Time to end this rant!

P.S. It just took me 15 minutes to hit the publish button on this post. Yep, we’re in Yeppoon, it’s the school holidays, and the internet sux!

59 thoughts on “OMG Internet in Australia is so bad (Travel challenges)”

  1. Oh good f***ing grief, you’re absolutely right. I’ve been in Australia since January, moving up the coast from Melbourne to Cairns, and I have been struck dumb by how awful the internet is out here. I’m a writer, and need a decent internet connection for my work too, but judging from how bad things are in this country, I should probably have spent three months down an abandoned coal mine in Siberia – where I would no doubt have got a better connection. Also, staring at the mad scrawlings of long dead Russian coal miners would be more fun than watching The Project, but that’s another story. In the twenty or so places that my fiancé and I have stopped, one or two have had decent, reliable, fast internet. Everywhere else has been plagued with slow down, disconnections, and horrible 3G signal. And we’ve hardly been anywhere rural. As I write this I’m in an apartment on the Sunshine Coast using a Dodo broadband connection that is more temperamental than Jeremy Clarkson after three pints of gin. The connection should be 14mbps. I’m getting 0.6. Laughable.
    I go home in seven weeks, and am already dreaming about returning to the UK, and my unlimited fibre optic connection at 70mbps (costing all of $30 a month). Australia may have all these lovely beaches and the kind of weather most people in the northern hemisphere only dream about, but it also has the kind of internet every other bugger in the world had ten years ago. Given the choice between a suntan and an entire season of Game Of Thrones downloaded in an hour, I know which one I’m going for. Tony Abbott is an even bigger c*** than Joffrey.

    1. This is hilarious Nick! thanks for making me laugh. I think I need to follow you to the UK to get some of that fibre optic connection!

    1. Hannah, I’m thinking to moving from Australia to Thailand this yr. Typically how much is data for internet over there. How much do you spend per month on this? Thanks heaps

  2. Since moving to Australia from the UK in late November, I’ve been pretty shocked at how terrible the internet situation is over here. Long gone are the days of free data allowances and being able to download a university powerpoint in seconds- I now have to wait sometimes up to an hour to download lectures I need to use to teach my students- it’s crazy! And this is from someone that is living near the city centre of Brisbane…I can’t imagine how bad it is elsewhere in the country.

    Lizzy from Nomad Notebook

    1. Just embarassing. I’m so tired of having to download something four or five times because it keeps dropping out mid-download. Optus is laughing though as they get to charge me excess fees when I go over because of it.

  3. Yup, internet in Australia is beyond appalling. We’ve been in Australia for three months now, and I was hoping we’d get used to it but nope, it still annoys the crap out of us.

    And what’s with the data caps? It’s like saying: ‘oh sorry, you’ve just run out of TV for the rest of the month.’

    Oh, and by the way; Telstra isn’t much better. Just more expensive. We first bought a Vodafone sim, which meant we had no phone reception anywhere but pretty decent 3G – and now that we’ve switched to Telstra we have phone reception almost everywhere but the crappiest 3G EVER. And not just in rutal areas, in Sydney I couldn’t even check facebook or open a web page – much less try to upload pictures for a new blog post.


    1. Ugh! That kills me that you can’t get connected properly in Sydney. It’s so embarrassing. It’s not like we have huge population numbers so if other cities around the world can still have fast speeds with their high pop numbers, we should be able to.

      The data caps are annoying and just a way for them to rort us with extra fees as they know people will go over.

      I actually forgot to mention that in the beginning we had a Telstra post-paid mobile broadband device, (but not on a plan) We only lasted with them for a month because our first bill was around $800, but we had no way of monitorning our data. It took 4 weeks to actually register for online monitoring, so by the time we could see how much we were using it was too late. They were actually breaking the law here as you have to be able to monitor it and they have to let you know once you start reaching your data caps, and they failed on both occasions. Because of this they wiped the excess charges straight away. As they knew they were breaking the law. It’s so pathetic.

  4. Very surprised that internet in parts of Australia is so bad… and I agree with you even in remotest Thailand you can get great connectivity. Often just for the lunch in a restaurant you get free wifi in Thailand…. I do hope things get better in Australia.

  5. Goodness gracious me, preaching to the choir here.
    I’ve just recently moved to the UK for a gap year, and oh my goodness, the internet here is futuristic. In comparison. The number of times a day that I say “its so fast” and “wow that was quick”… I’m pretty sure my roommate wants to punch me. I’m actually becoming less grateful, I am starting to complain when I have to wait at all… But I simply have to remind myself that living on a farm 10km from THE ENTRANCE (FOR CRYING OUT LOUD) is on satellite internet because there is no data connection, not even 2G for just basic calls and texts. You wonder how on earth such a country could live on this!
    While reading this, I got so worked up in agreement that I decided to ask my Spanish friend to read the post you wrote, she couldn’t believe her eyes! One hundred percent accurate.
    Speaking of phone companies, In Australia I have a phone plan with Telstra – I had 1GB of data with 200 texts and a similarly small amount of calling credit, which cost me $70 per month. In the UK, I am with Three, and spend only £25 ($50 near enough) for UNLIMITED EVERYTHING, plus coverage in a bunch of other countries at no extra cost as well. LIKE WHAT IS ACTUALLY WRONG WITH AUSTRALIA. To be completely honest with you – it is enough to convince me to live in the UK for the rest of my life!
    Now I’m ranting too, but it was so refreshing to read a post about the trials and tribulations of living in the ‘promised land’! Thanks so much for posting this 🙂

    1. Oh wow! It just gets worse! Thanks for sharing with me your experiences. Australia really needs to up its game or so many people will be living in another countries instead and then tourists won’t even come here! I can’t believe you had to have satellite internet 10km from The Entrance!!! That is shocking!

      So happy you have found a fast and cheap deal in the UK. If it doesn’t get better for us on the Gold Coast we’ll be moving to the States. Enjoy your travels over there

  6. My internet in Sahara Desert – southeast Morocco back in 2006 was much better than the Internet I got in Australia in 2015. After traveling in Central and South America, I got frustrated of arriving in Australia and having non-free – slow internet. I couldn’t believe it. Although I loved the country of course and Australians are for sure one of the most social people in the world. Greetings from Ouarzazate! (the OZZ city – for airport code) 🙂

    1. Yes! Australia is an amazing country and the people are wonderful. That’s one reason I get so annoyed with the internet as I know we are letting ourselves down. When you get into small towns as well and speak to the locals and the small business owners they are struggling a lot due to internet. Even kids in schools are limited because they can’t get connected. It’s so frustrating.

      We’re so happy you had a great time down here regardless!

  7. I am nodding my head as I read this Caz.
    Last week I was in Bali using the free WiFi at the hotel and had faster coverage than what I do at home in Perth in a suburb 5 minutes from the city centre using Telstra with unlimited data.
    Bring on NBN – though will it really be any better?

  8. I live in China and while it’s not quite as bad as you’ve described above, it’s pretty freakin’ annoying! While sites hosted in China are super fast, anything hosted outside the country is purposefully slowed down. Websites shouldn’t be FASTER with my VPN. For example, Pinterest isn’t blocked in China, but I can’t even load one photo without my VPN. When the VPN doesn’t work, there is literally no point in the internet. Half the time I can’t watch youtube or Facebook videos, and FORGET about uploading anything to Youtube. Phone VPNs are really fickle, so half the time I can’t even get on Instagram. How am I supposed to build up my Instagram following if it takes 20 minutes to post one photo? At least it’s cheap. I’m only spending $30 for 6 months. I can’t imagine paying over $300 a month. That’s crazy!!!

    1. Oh yeah, China sounds like a headache! It will be some time before we can visit there again. Being a digital nomad comes with its challenges.

  9. Certainly agree about Telstra being the only one to use in Oz! We have the same issues outside of Melbourne. Currently travelling Europe and finding the free WiFi rather slow and frustrating, but we were in Poland and had the most amazing WiFi ever! Totally free at a truck stop – loaded tonnes of my photos up to dropbox whilst having a cheap, but delicious, coffee! Go Poland!

      1. Definitely do Craig! Poland is a winner all round. We just went up the cable car from Chamonix, 3872 metres.. stunning views… stunning day… and I planned to skype my husband from the top so he could say happy 10th Birthday to our daughter… no free or paid wifi! Grr.. I know I ought have my own data set up, but it is so costly. Great day all the same. It does make one sad though to realise just how much we want, expect and need internet connections these days though!

  10. Brenda & Andrew (@DishOurTown)

    I can’t believe how bad Australia’s internet is, it’s truly unbelievable. I guess I should count my lucky stars and not complain about what I have here in NYC. With that said, you two are so efficient and productive, I never notice that you struggle with slow internet.

    1. We’ve gotten good at managing it, but it’s still so frustrating. We can’t wait to stop the travel so we can be more productive.

  11. I feel your pain. I never understood why people complained about internet when I lived in Melbourne but now I’m in Tassie and I totally understand.

    I won’t use Telstra because I’ve had such bad experiences with their customer service. I used to work for them and they’d have all these grandiose corporate plans and I’d think — or you could just stop outsourcing your customer service. I have a prepaid mobile plan because I’ve got stung with every post paid service I’ve had.

    I’m currently staying with Mum so have to use Dodo. OMG. There are three of us in the house and only 2 of us can use the wifi at a time! If I have to use it for work, I sit up after 2am so I know the service won’t cut out and I’m terrified to do any kind of financial transactions in case it cuts out in the middle of transferring money.

    1. How annoying. One of the reasons we didn’t originally go with Telstra was because I thought their customer service was appalling. After awful experiences years ago, I decided I’d avoid them at all costs. In hindsight now, I wish I broke my own promises!!

      It’s appalling that people have to stay up to 2am to get stuff done. It was like that for us in Bright. We’d have to wait until 11pm to start work.

  12. It is absolutely ridiculous!!! I have just returned from 8 weeks in SE Asia, most of that time in Cambodia and EVERYWHERE I went had free wifi! Even an overnight bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap I was connected!! Now I’m in a hotel on the Sunshine Coast and they offer 30mins free then another 30mins for $5, 2hrs for $10, 24hrs for $18 or a whole week for $85!!! How ridiculous!!

    1. Oh geez!! It just gets worse. This annoys me so much as travellers will stop coming to Australia soon if it doesn’t improve. I find too many Australians say, yeah but Australia is so wonderful. Just disconnect and enjoy your holiday. Maybe so. But the world is so digital driven now. Many people travel for various reasons and many can work remotely while they travel. If our country keeps sticking it’s head in the sand and trying to rely on the fact that we’re an amazing country so it doesn’t matter, we’re going to lose out and fall way behind the rest of the world. It concerns me greatly.

  13. I’m in Australia right now and decided that since I was here for a week in the Blue Mountains that I might as well stick around and work here for a few weeks since I didn’t have to be anywhere else…why not? Well – had I read your post before I had made this plan I probably would have said “I’ll just go back to the US and work”. But I didn’t – and now I”m here struggling with internet and I’m in Sydney suburbs! So – I do feel your pain…even if it’s only a little bit.
    It’s baffling to me why Australia (and New Zealand) are so far behind on connectivity. I lived in Vietnam 7 yrs ago and had much better internet. crazy.

    Totally admire you for dealing with it and love that you wrote about it as trying to run an online business without connectivity is horribly stressful – I understand.
    Good luck! I’m outta here in 2 weeks and back to good internet where I’ll be able to upload video and photography once again!

    1. Oh I’m so sorry Sherry. That’s awful. It’s so frustrating for us, but I get even more frustrated that people who visit here from other countries have such an awful time with it. I wish we could offer better! I saw some of your photos on Instagram – awesome. Love the Blue Mountains.

  14. OMG. This. This This. We have just been home (Gold Coast) for the past 2.5 months after spending a long time overseas and the internet has given me the shits! Free WiFi was easier to find in a town, an hour from the Amazon forest in Peru (true story) than it is in “developed” Australia. And, I fully hear you about Optus. We bought a 3G dongle when we first arrived and boy was it crap! We used Telstra for a while after that but it was hard to get work done when you’re counting megabytes. Finally, we’ve ended up working from a coworking space because we just got over not being able to get stuff done! It’s a joke.

  15. This post is so accurate. I’m exhausted just reading what you have had to endure to bring us your amazing posts. You’ll be pleased to know that Tony’s all over it and has a grand plan for 2019 ….. NOT:

    I had similar issues around the country and a number of heated phone calls with Telstra customer service after being “overcharged” several times. Thank GOD for the ability to screen shot. They don’t have a leg to stand on when you produce the evidence. Still these are hours and days wasted on hold ….you never get them back. So infuriating.

  16. Firstly, I feel ya. When we first moved to Australia nearly 8 years ago it took us forever to find a broadband provider that wasn’t insanely expensive. However, since then it is SO much better, so now whenever I go back on holiday every year I really appreciate their current internet situation even though I now live in London so am used to super fast broadband. When we lived there we had a 2GB limit per month…for a family of four with two kids at school needing internet for homework etc.

    However, you need to remember that Australia is HUGE and most of it untouched. The majority of the population live in the cities and major towns in the southern half of the country. For you to be able to get fast internet all over the country would cost an insane amount for the providers and hardly anyone would use it as most people don’t roadtrip and work. You’re in a remote part of the world and you need to appreciate that. In Australia it’s just understood that when you’re in woopwoop you forget about the internet, unless you’re with Telstra and happy to pay their prices (which few people do). Hell, even the big mining companies don’t have internet and phone coverage etc when they’re up north, they use satellite phones for everything (which are insanely expensive and only used in emergencies).

    I know you’re just venting and angry etc, but please *please* don’t judge Australia just on their internet. They know they’re behind and have a lot of catching up to do, but you need to understand how absolutely huge the country is and how expensive it would be to make sure every rural location had top notch internet and phone signal. It’s only in the past twenty years or so that the country has even been accessible for most normal people travelling from overseas.

    Maybe in future if you wanna roadtrip Aus again, make sure you plan it around the main cities, and set up an out of office response for when you’ll be in a remote location so potential business partners know that you’re not ignoring them (that’s what I do).

    Also even though the majority of internet is slow, I love how most cafes and restaurants in Western Australia offer free wifi, far more offer it there than in England, some of it’s pretty fast too, you just gotta find the right cafe or library and stick to it.

    I do understand where you’re coming from, but at the same time I think you need to be a little more understanding on how huge and empty the majority of Australia is.

    C x | Lux Life

    1. Yeah I’m glad you realised finally that we’re Aussie and from Sydney because this comment really annoyed me and showed you don’t know us too well. We get how big Australia is, and this post speaks a lot about places like Cairns, Margaret River (which by the way is touristy), Broome and Sydney. We actually don’t even talk much about the remote places, we’re talking about places where there is civilisation.

      And if you spend a bit of time on our site you’ll clearly see that we LOVE Australia and we’ve promoted it intensely for the past 18 months and have inspired and encouraged THOUSANDS of people to visit here and will continue to do so forever. I appreciate that you realised we are actually Australian, but perhaps it is noted for you in the future to read posts properly and to look more into a person’s site and story before commenting.

      We’re more than just venting here. We love and care about our country immensely. We want it to be great and we want people to visit here. This is a serious issue that affects tourism in a lot of ways. Tourism is one of our major industries in this country, if we can’t give travellers what they need digitally and at a fair price, they won’t come here. How much does that affect our economy?

      But, it’s also small businesses who are affected. Since writing this post, we’ve had small business owners writing to thank us for making this issue known and for using our voice in a way to help. It’s not just venting. One lady in particular told me she has to pay $1,000 a month to cover her internet costs. This is outrageous! That’s seven people she has to put into beds each month just to cover that. Do you think that is fair or good for our economy? Perhaps you need to be a little more understanding about that.

      There is also the fact that our students will soon have to do their standardized testing online (I’lll leave that vent for another time) What’s the issue here? Many of them can’t even get online. We spoke to the community members of a small town (considered rural by Telcom except it’s only 2 hours from Bundaberg, hardly rural) Their children’s education is being impacted because of the lack of internet coverage. This is not a problem?

      I’m not sure if you know too much about the leaders of our country, but they are useless and spend all their time bickering and arguing rather than implementing things that will help grow our country. We are a wealthy nation and we have the money to improve the services. Just because people live in rural areas doesn’t mean they should be cut off. Another example of a small remote area just west of Alice Springs – it would cost Telstra $20,000 to put a tower in, which would serve quite a large region and help those trying to live a good life there. But, they refuse to do it, so those people have to pay huge dollars to use satellite internet as well.

      It’s unacceptable. We rant because it’s annoyed us, but also because we believe our country is better than this and more should be done to help travellers, yes, but mostly the small businesses that are the lifeblood of an economy and who already struggle with many rules and regulations placed upon them by the government not to mention things they have no control over like drought, cyclones and floods. Internet should be one less issue for them to worry about and our country should be doing more.

      1. I understand what you’re saying, but there’s no need to get so angry at me. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, even if you don’t agree with it. Are you saying that only people who are regular readers of your site are allowed to comment, unless it’s a glowing comment telling you how amazing your post is? I understand what a pain it is, trust me, I had to do my year 12 TEE’s with only 2GB of internet a month, and I KNOW how shitty your leaders are, but at the same time I understand how hard it must be to get the entire country connected with good internet given how huge it is compared to other countries. Even here in the UK we have shitty or little internet and phone coverage in remote areas of the countryside, and we’re a teeny tiny country!

        Australia has always been backwards, in every part of the digital age, and I just can’t see it changing any time soon. Heck, they’re still asking for engineers and traders from other countries, despite the mining boom being pretty much over and all of the miners going back to the cities and working in trade (because of the miners coming back there’s a massively saturated market in WA with electricians, and now loads of electricians are out of work), and yet they’re not asking for digital and online/tech specialists who have years of experience in other countries who are further ahead than them in digital and tech! If they want to catch up with the rest of the world, then they’re gonna need to get these people from overseas to go and work in Australia and train Australian workers so they’re up to scratch with the rest of the world. It’s not just a simple issue with them not putting in a new tower, it’s an issue with their immigration policies too. How can they advance in the online/tech/digital space when they have both workers and leaders with an extreme lack of experience in it?

        Oh, and sorry for not reading the post properly, it’s pretty long and full-on, and I had just got home after a 24+ hour flight from Australia to London and was pretty jetlagged. I make that journey and visit Australia every year because I love your country so darn much and miss it like crazy, even if it did take me 8 hours just to upload a 5 minute video to Youtube using free wifi.

        1. I was annoyed because your comment was clearly written with a total lack of understanding of who we were and the point we were coming from. I welcome your opinion, as I do anyone, I just ask that you make sure you read things properly before you do (including the other comments which spoke about the difficulty of getting connected in places like Sydney), otherwise your I’m not really open to hearing your comment when you talk to me as if I’m a tourist in Australia. If someone commented on an article of yours when it was obvious they didn’t read the post properly, I’m sure you’d be kinda annoyed too. It’s like having a conversation with someone in real life who clearly is not really listening to you.

          I care about my country and I want things to change. Australia has not always been backwards. In fact, our progress considering where we started is amazing. Australia can fix this internet issue, even if it means hiring people from overseas.I don’t think getting the entire country connected is the answer as most of it is uninhabitable. I’m talking about the civilised places, like Sydney that has big populations. I don’t believe making excuses and burying our heads in the sand is the answer.

          Thank you for loving our country so much and I hope you recover from your jet lag soon. Take your shoes off and go stand on the ground for 30 minutes. The earthing will help you recalibrate

  17. Ouch! Sounds like a huge pain in the butt especially when you rely on the internet for your work. I’m happy to switch off when on holiday but when it comes to working off site the internet is invaluable and needs to be reliable. NZ is also a pretty poor performer for internet especially in the smaller, rural towns however I did find that the hotel charges for internet access were minimal compared to what I’ve had to pay in Australia.

  18. The internet is surely Australia’s biggest embarrassment. As an expat blogger not a day that goes by that I don’t suffer at the hands of Australian internet providers. Even the super expensive Telstra dongles are unreliable and have often denied me internet access for several hours at a time. I’ve had better internet connections in Africa!
    Having said that, I the NBN I used in Canberra was decent. It was faster, without the usual connection interruptions, than any other internet I have experienced in Australia over the past four years! Why, oh why, are they not prioritising it’s roll-out?

  19. Oh dear!

    Not sure if this has been covered in the comments, but I find having ALDI mobile a huge lifesaver. ALDI use the Telstra network (at much cheaper prices) and I just use my phone hotspot when I’m blogging in rural Aus. I gave up Optus a few years ago as it’s just terrible. You can get 4gb of data with ALDI (to use within 30 days) for $45 and when it runs out you get another gig for $10.

    Might be helpful!

  20. soon enough even the ADSL 2 network will be bogged down with so called cheap unlimited plans that dial up speeds will be here once again.

  21. For anyone who’s stumbled across this post (out of the many awesome posts that are on this site) out of frustration digital nomads have in Australia, try checking out global gig!

    It’s $50 for 10GB’s on a month-to-month (with less expensive options) SIM card. I can’t speak to how reliable it is (it’s using the OPTUS network) but it’s cheaper.

    They also have international plans as well! Wanted to provide some light in a seemingly dark hole of the internet space in Oz!

  22. oh wow! in Moldova (eastern Europe) , where i lived for 20 years , i get such fast internet, it’s crazy. i download stuff with 5-6 mb per second. And the cost is like 10 Australian dollars per month. The same situation is in Romania, where i live currently. Even tough these countries are considered among the poorest in Europe, the Internet is one of the cheaper and faster in the world. Your situation reminds me of how it was here like 12-15 years ago, with dial-up connection , right when the internet was a novelty.

  23. It might help all digital travellers to understand (one part of ) why Australia’s internet is so limited. There are (currently) only two main undersea nodal points into Australia. One into Sydney and one via Singapore into Perth. 90% of all data must go out (and come in)to the rest of the world through these interchanges.
    below is a visual map that might help…(scroll to australia, coloured lines are the main points of data entry.)

    Legislative incomptence by our government aside, if all Aussie ISP providers gave unlimited data plans it would create bottlenecks at these points and things would actually be worse.
    Good news is apparently Australia will be get two new dedicate undersea interchanges layed sometime in late 2016.

  24. Whole heartedly agree, I’m an Aussie in Japan. I get 2gb/s for 60 dollars a month. Going back to Aus in December, and even at the Gold Coast finding a hotel with good internet is hard, and you usually have to pay…get it together Aus

  25. We have been ‘trying’ to connect a decent service to our business for almost a year. We have explored all avenues and has just explored a dedicated wireless link after the copper infrastructure is completely useless for business. This too has become a real challenge. We have been given all types of obstacles and excuses why we can’t have good internet. At best our current internet reaches speeds of 2M but at worst it is 0.05M. It tends to err closer to the lower speeds most of the time. Emails take sometimes hours to send or receive and outages for more than 2 hours are the norm.
    Our business is in Punchbowl, Sydney Australia. Being in the largest city in Australia doesn’t guarantee fast internet either. We are never going to see the NBN as promised and I believe when we get it we will be very old.

    1. Justin that is so horrible – and you’re in Sydney!!!! We’re now living on the Gold Coast and it hasn’t gotten any better. We finally were able to ditch Optus – and the dramas with them long continued after this post. I certainly would NEVER recommend them to anyone. But, we’ve switched over to Telstra and to be honest, they’re not much better. Our home broadband is not the cable speeds they sold to us, and the connection on our phone rarely goes above one bar. It’s so pathetic.

      I really hope they come through with that NBN for you. It sucks to run a business reliant on Internet in Australia. We’re looking forward to travelling the US next year and having way better connection.

  26. OMG I know this is a year ago but I stumbled across this on Pinterest and have been in fits of laughter (and crying from pain). The tips section at the end “Optus customer service gives me angina, Telstra customer service gives me a heart attack” – every point there had me in tears of laughter and sorrow. I know this is a rant but you couldn’t make this stuff up right? I don’t deal with telco’s at all anymore, especially bills. I just ring the Ombudsman for everything as they literally get fined $800 or so (an actual employee told me that) if they don’t resolve it in a week so mostly they just let the bills go, but with internet coverage there’s nothing we can do. I have microwave broadband but you can’t travel with that and I shouldn’t HAVE to set up a private internet system in a 1st world country because the asshat telstra decided not to put enough ports in on my street and because they are sulking about not doing the NBN or whatever childish shit they are all up to. It’s a joke and seriously apparently by the time the NBN goes in it will be out of date.

    PS loved your swearing in this… briliant!

  27. I’m in America atm, on wifi, absolutely marvelous.
    You mention, “Australia isn’t just Sydney and Melbourne.” Trust me, Sydneysiders don’t have any luck either. In our Potts Point apartment (3kms East of Sydney CBD), we have zero Telstra mobile service, and the Optus service we receive is only H+ on one to two bars at best – but during evenings and weekends, forget it, the towers can’t stand the extra demand.
    This is 2016, Australia. Come on!

  28. Interesting, The speed of Internet in Australia seems to be among the highest in the world however. Perhaps because you have such a big country with so few population, it becomes difficult to provide coverage for all areas (especially the ones with less population?)

    I was under the impression that everyone in Australia has internet access on their phones. Is it a wrong assumption?

  29. Just arrived in Australia and really shocked about the state of internet. I think the best way for the government is to increase competition and bring international investors.

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