Australians coming to the UK and looking to find an ISP will find names that are familiar from home, as well as some that will be new. The leading ISPs in the UK are BT, Sky Broadband, Virgin Media, TalkTalk, Post Office, Vodafone UK, KCOM Group, Ask4, Zen Internet and Entanet.
This large number of providers offers a variety of different services, but overall, the actual business of setting up an account and getting internet access is relatively straightforward.
You will generally be able to choose between: a pay-as-you-go service; a flat rate service (a fixed rate per month); or a combined service, where you play flat rate for off-peak services, and a per minute charge during peak times. For broadband packages, the faster download speed you require, the more you will generally be required to pay. Provided you have access to a telephone line that is compatible with your proposed ISP provider, you will be able to get the internet connected.
Mobile phone connection
As with ISP providers, Australians in the UK will find that the many of the names of mobile phone companies are already familiar to them. The biggest UK networks offering mobile phone services are Vodafone, O2, and Three, although there are a number of other significant players in the market, including Giffgaff (owned by O2), Sky Mobile, Tesco Mobile, Virgin Media and EE.
There’s a huge range of different plans available, and on the whole mobile phone costs tend to be lower in the UK than they are in Australia (this is certainly the case when it comes to roaming costs and using your phone abroad). You can choose between SIM-only plans (where you use your existing handset), monthly plans (get a bill at the end of the month) and pay-as-you-go (pre-paid in advance). These packages will tend to include a set amount of data per month for accessing the internet on the go, as well as free minutes to UK numbers, and free texts.
You can also choose from a range of plans that include a mobile device in the package. These will usually only be available on monthly plans, and you can expect to pay an initial up-front fee as well.
The best value SIM-only plans will be in the region of £10 per month, and include a small amount of data and a couple of hours’ worth of UK calls. A monthly plan, including a latest version handset might set you back around £40-£60 a month (plus a similar up-front fee), and this will also include data and a set number of minutes of calls to UK numbers; a similar deal with an older model phone will likely be in the region of £20-£30 per month.
While the internet is not subject to the same government controls as in many countries (at least at this stage!), this doesn’t mean that a VPN is not useful for Australians in the UK. VPNs mask your IP address and location so that you can access sites as though you were in Australia rather than abroad. This is especially useful if you want to be able to access sports websites, news and broadcasts that are exclusive to Australia.
There are plenty of choices when it comes to VPN providers — perhaps too many! However, if you’re confused about VPNs then a comparison site like Top5VPN can guide you around the buying process. When you’re comparing plans, make sure you check out the security and protocols that are offered, the speed and device support, as well as the price, before you make a decision.
If you intend to call home, or anywhere else in the world on a regular basis, it will be far more cost-effective to use Skype (a form of Voice over Internet Protocol or VOIP) rather than call from your mobile or landline. As long as you have internet access, can use the Skype app to make free video and voice calls to other people who are on Skype, or voice calls directly to a phone number anywhere in the world.
Skype can also be used for instant messaging, in the same way as other messaging apps like What’sApp, and this is free as well.
There are also a growing number of Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) alternatives out there to Skype and What’sApp. Many of these alternatives are also free (although some do have charges) and mean you can call Australia (or anywhere else in the world) as much as you like without having to keep an eye on the clock and worrying about the size of bill you’re running up.
Google Hangouts let you make video and voice calls to up to ten people at the same time, and you can use it as a messaging app as well. You can get an app for iOS and Android. Appear.in lets you make video and voice calls and is very simple and straightforward to use; there is also an app for iOS. OoVoo is similar to What’sApp and is available online and on Android, iOS and Windows. You can make free calls to others on OoVoo, with up to twelve people at a time, as well as paid calls to mobiles and landlines. Viber is a very popular app for making international calls, and you get free texts, voice and video calls to other Viber users.