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When you arrive in Canberra and ACT you will need phones and internet. Below is some information:

Mobile Phones:

If you already have a Mobile Phone –Ask your current phone provider if there is an International Roaming Agreement with an Australian neeork so that you can access the network with the phone you already have. Check your network provider for more details to explain what costs are involved. Do take care: this is often not cheap especially for data usage. If you can, turn off your data and use your phone only for texts and short phone calls until you make alternative arrangements.

With an 'unlocked' mobile handset (so not locked to a mobile phone provider) you will be able to use the handset and then invest in a local sim card.

Advantages of Pre-paid Options – Buying a prepaid handset, sim and calling credits, means you are able to make inexpensive calls straight away. The set up will cost around $50 - $250 depending on the make or model of the handset. These phones are available at Supermarkets and Post Offices and most of the Phone 90c per minute at peak times and 34c per minute off peak.

Advantages of Post-Paid Option – You can get lower phone costs from a contract and capped plan contracts offer benefits such as no limit texting or social data services as well as bonus credit. There are many various deals so it is worth investigating thoroughly. Contracts will usually be for a 12 or 24 month term. Sim only contracts (where you already have your own handset) are in the region of $20 a month or, including a handset, (which is charged over the course of the contract term) from $30 a month. IPhone 4 or a later models are more expensive at around $60 a month or above. Investigate call and data inclusions as exceeding your quota can result is high excess charges. Check your  data usage regularly, to make sure you stay in budget, online or by calling their allocated number.

Please note: Taking out a contract usually requires a credit check – this can be tricky when you first arrive and have no credit history. To improve your chances bring copies of ID (passport/Driving Licence), proof of Visa/Residency status and proof of current income/letter of offer from your employer. Some companies will have more stringent regulations than others so you can try a few providers. To learn more about improving your credit history see our section on Banking.

Staying in touch with overseas friends and family:

  • Investigate mobile phone plans for competitive rates for overseas calls.
  • Calling cards give you low cost overseas calls (a little more fiddly as you first dial a number and then enter your Pin) are available at convenience stores (from about $10) and save costs and allow you to stay within budget. Different cards are good for different countries so it may be worth getting two if you want to call two different counties. You can add calling credits with a credit card. See:
  • Skype, as long as you have an internet connection or a Skype App on your phone is still very reasonable and you can see your friends or family if you have a camera function.
  • Viber is another App allowing free calls and texts to Viber members.
  • WhatsApp sends text and photo messages free to other WhatsApp users.
  • Voxer, from the itunes store, is a walkie Talkie style App leaving free voice messages for other Voxer users.

Internet :

Mobile Internet - To get connected to the Internet immediately with the added bonus that it is a portable option a USB modem which clicks into your laptop, a Wi Fi modem or a SIM (for ipad and mobile use) is a good option. Costs vary but allow at least $79 for a Vodaphone USB modem to up to $300 for a Telstra Wi Fi Modem. Buy data credits and top up as you go or monthly online or in store. A twelve or twenty-four month data contract will often include the device with the cost spread over the term of the plan. A contract offers better rates but you are tied in for a certain period. Charges above your agreed usage can be very expensive. These portable internet devices are best for people who only need occasional use with data quotas starting from 2Gig.

Wireless Internet – If you would like broad coverage at home then plans are available from a six month to a much longer contract with one of the main providers – TPG, Telstra, DoDo.If you have high usage but  want to ensure no huge excess data charges and to access the internet across a range of devices in the home then this is a good option.

Free Wifi – Canberra offers free Wifi in most of the ACT libraries, some cafes, hotels and also in some public places. Find your nearest Wi-Fi outlet by downloading an APP called WI-Fi Finder – see


Fun Fact :) The popular iphone term, “Selfie”, is originally an Australian slang term. A drunk in Australia first used it in an online forum. This term became the most international word in 2013.

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