A Little Adrift

A Little Internet… Why is the Internet So God-Awful in Australia? (And How to Get Connected)

To anyone who has noticed my absence, don’t send out a call to the embassy — I am 100% OK. The reason for my silence lands squarely in the hands of the Australian internet monopolies. As a digital nomad working from the road, I hadn’t considered that my biggest issue in Australia would be how to find reliable, affordable internet access. I had assumed that Australia would offer access and speeds similar to the U.S., but that has not borne out. In fact, internet is scarce. Considering that I am in Australia, I am surprised to have gone back ten years in the internet boom.

In 2008, the owner of one hostel didn’t understand the concept of wireless internet. In subsequent years, internet access is a tad more widespread, but it’s still expensive. Luckily, travelers can also buy a SIM card and create mobile hotspots, which extends coverage quite a bit (though this has it’s own issues as you can run into snags obtaining a SIM in Australia). When I first traveled Australia, I needed internet access about three days per week. This meant that I wandered many of the country’s tiny towns in search of the elusive connections. And even with that flexibility, poor quality internet, so speeds and horrifically high prices made it a terror to work from the road.

The thing is, it’s not just me. Internet in Australia is notoriously bad. Reddit has a dedicated thread. There is no way around the bad internet, either. Neither love nor money will fix the problem. As of 2016, it is still a huge issue if you plan to work on the road. And for the Aussies dealing with this, they have some rage built up around the sorry state of internet in their country.

The reality is that you should not travel Australia if you have major time-sensitive internet-based work. Nor if you need to upload big files. You will pay through the nose for it. I have paid $16 USD per hour for a weak, lousy connection. It pains me to pain for bad service, but it’s the reality for Australia-bound travelers and digital nomads. But, if you’re heading to Oz, it’s time to talk about how you can get connected, and the most affordable options, as well as the most effective options (in Australia, they are rarely the same).

How to Find Reliable Internet Access in Australia

If you’re a traveling digital nomad, check out my travel guide for Australia, or for your next destination. The A Little Adrift Guides include the best sites and activities, as well as a thorough breakdown on the information travelers need to stay connected on the road.