You’ve just moved out of home so you’re trying to save money and keep costs down. The last thing you want is to pay extra for faster internet or be slugged with a big bill at the end of the month. Here’s the rundown of everything you need to know about getting the best out of your internet in your new home.

But first things first…

How do you determine what good internet connection is?

Slow internet is the worst. Whether you’re working from home, finishing off uni work, or trying to stream the latest episodes on Netflix, a poor internet connection can quickly become a major frustration in your life. But how can you judge what a good internet connection is?

To understand internet connection, you need to know the term ‘bandwidth’. Bandwidth is the maximum rate at which you can download data from the Internet. The larger it is, the more data you can use in a shorter period of time.

Your bandwidth is shared among all devices on your connection, so if you’re moving into a share house, your bandwidth spreads across your phone, tablet and laptop, as well as all the devices of your housemates. General web surfing, email and social media use the least amount of bandwidth, while video streaming and downloading large files use the most. So the amount of bandwidth you need really depends on how the people in your house are using the Internet.

Most of the big ISPs (that’s ‘Internet Service Providers’) like Telstra, Optus and iiNet provide internet speed tests for their customers, however there are plenty of websites designed to test your internet speed. Check out the following:

If you test your Internet speed and you find that it’s not as fast as promised by your ISP, get in contact with them. If they fail to resolve the issue for you, you can report it to the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission).

What you need to know about the nbn

Ahhhh the nbn. It feels like this term’s been thrown around a lot in the past few years. The National Broadband Network has been designed to give Aussies super-fast internet connection. It’s perfect for share houses as it offers speeds up to 100 Mbps when downloading – that’s 12 times faster than an ADSL connection and means everyone in your house can stream Netflix, download music and online game all at once.

When you move into your new place, find out if it’s connected to the nbn yet. If not, the first thing you need to do is check to see if the nbn is available in your area yet. You can do that here.

If the nbn is available, the next step is to contact a phone or internet provider to choose a plan that will suit your house. Check out Aussie Broadband – they can help organise a connection for you.

If the nbn is not yet available in your area, unfortunately you’ll have to wait. But you can register for email updates to find out when your home will be ready. Once your area gains access to the nbn, you have 18 months to move over to the nbn network before you existing network is switched off.

What is internet shaping?

Internet shaping involves lowering the available bandwidth by your ISP to customers that have gone over their monthly limit. We’ve all been there – a few too many Netflix binges and our internet is slower than an old-school 1998 dial up connection. Harsh right? But it’s common practice in Australia.

Shaping lowers your internet speed to around 56 Kpbs – that’s a massive decrease and prevents you from doing things like streaming movies, downloading large software updates, playing games for long periods of time and downloading high resolution pictures.

Even though this sounds frustrating, it actually saves you a lot of money. If ISPs didn’t shape, your monthly internet bill would be a lot higher to cover the costs of maintaining your internet’s high speed when you go over i.e. extra fees for exceeding your monthly quota. It also means you get ongoing internet even when you’ve reached your maximum for the month, so you can finish off that last minute assignment before the deadline.

If you find yourself getting shaped every month, maybe it’s time to think about upgrading your monthly allowance so you can have high speed internet all month long. Alternatively, if you can’t afford an upgrade, try cutting back on your home internet usage by using your cellular data and hotspot more, or free wifi spots. For example, if you need to download a new update for your smartphone or laptop, use your work or uni wifi to do so.

Get ready for the big move

ISPs, nbn and shaping – it doesn’t have to be confusing. Now that you’re a master of all things Internet, you’re set to go. Pack your bags and get ready for the next chapter of your life.