Best VPN Services for Australia

Best VPN Services for Australia

Australia is the sixth largest country by land area and includes Tasmania to the south and numerous other small islands off its vibrant East coast. For those living, traveling, and studying down under, access to the Internet, largely through point-to-point fixed wireless ADSL broadband, has become widespread over the past three decades with 93% of the population able to access the web as of November 2015, a number which is expected to grow in the next few years despite it being lower than many European and Scandinavian countries.

Despite boasting a developed internet landscape, Australia, has been heavily strengthening its online surveillance initiatives as well as tightening control of access to torrent index sites deemed to host or link to pirated content.

This guide takes a closer look at data retention laws and internet censorship that are enforced in the country and provides a list of the best VPN services to use in Australia (as well as for obtaining an Australian IP address).


Summary

Logo Name Links Monthly Price
VPN.AC VPN.AC Read Review
Visit Provider
$9
HideMyAss HideMyAss Read Review
Visit Provider
$11.52
PureVPN PureVPN Read Review
Visit Provider
$9.95
ibVPN ibVPN Read Review
Visit Provider
$7.95
IPVanish IPVanish Read Review
Visit Provider
$6.49
OverPlay OverPlay Read Review
Visit Provider
$9.95

Quick links


The rise of the ISP

The Internet first became available in Australian universities in 1989 largely through dial-up connections that allowed institutions to send and receive messages. This service was provided by the Australian Academic and Research Network (AARN), and not long afterwards became available to citizens across most urban areas of the country.

In 1992 there were two major ISPs, DIALix, which served Perth, and Pegasus Networks in Byron Bay, as well as the non-profit Australian Public Access Network Association (APANA), which was founded in the same year and operated numerous independent hosts to support bulletin board systems and newsgroups. APANA later developed into an affordable ISP provider of non-commercial access to the web for its members.

By 1995 there were as many as 100 ISPs on offer, a surge in growth that led to the Australian government supporting the ISP Telstra to disperse internet access among commercial customers. By the late 90s, Telstra and the emerging Optus delivered the first broadband access through cable across the east coast, and then ADSL services in 2000. Healthy competition among established and new ISPs led to a reduction in cost for broadband services, as well as a considerable increase in average speeds. In 2006, Telstra introduced the “Next G” High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) network, which in 2008 reportedly covered 99% of the population offering speeds of 14 Mbit/s.

In a bid to increase online access in rural parts of the country, the coalition government in power in 2006 asked ISPs to join a discussion about how to invest $878 million in affordable and fast broadband for these areas. In 2007, OPEL Networks was announced as the only successful bidder, but the funding agreement between the government and OPEL was cancelled in 2008 after government claims that OPEL had dishonored the contract (a statement which is refuted by OPEL).

In 2009, the Australian government began working alongside the industrial sector to deliver a Fibre to Premises (FTTP) broadband network, which is still underway. In November 2015, leaked documents suggested that the Australian government’s $800 million investment in the Optus cable telecomms network had been wasted since the network may need to be rebuilt from scratch.

Data retention & anti-piracy laws

The Australian government, like many others around the world, has gradually extended its powers of domestic data retention in recent years. In March 2015 the Australian Parliament passed mandatory data retention into law, thus allowing law enforcement agencies to retain citizen data for up to two years without a court warrant. Only select journalists, whose data is deemed sensitive, are exempt from the legislation and a warrant must be obtained before their data is accessed.

Months later, in June, the Senate voted in favor of strict anti-piracy laws, which strengthened the rights of traditional copyright holders to take alleged piracy websites to court, while also granting federal agencies the power to block websites if they are ruled to be illegal under the new legislation.

Both legislative changes have drawn widespread criticism from privacy advocates, including from the Electronic Frontier Australia (EFA) which has set up the Citizens Not Suspects campaign as a direct response to mass data surveillance.

citizens not suspects
The EFA campaign voices concerns about what it considers ‘indiscriminate mandatory data retention’ in Australia.

Internet censorship

Online censorship is regulated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and currently enforces restrictions on content as well as overseeing an internet blacklist of websites from outside of the country. The restrictions and the blacklist deal primarily with illegal content, including child pornography, sexual violence, and other criminal activities.

According to the non-governmental non-profit organization Reporters Without Borders, Australia is classified as ‘under surveillance’ since the parliament’s 2008 proposal for mandatory filtering of overseas websites. The proposal met with strong opposition from within and without government for several years, though led ultimately to the current anti-piracy legislation mentioned above.

Best VPN providers

VPN usage has surged in Australia over the past year, and in recent months as a reaction to the government’s stricter data retention and anti-piracy laws. A study carried out in April 2015 found that 16% of Australians had used a VPN (or Tor). Because of the increase in demand, VPN providers are increasingly setting up servers in Australia, while tightening their encryption and improving speeds for Australian users.

Below, we’ve published a breakdown of recommended virtual private network services to use in Australia and for obtaining an Australian IP from abroad:

Logo Name Links Monthly Price
VPN.AC VPN.AC Read Review
Visit Provider
$9
HideMyAss HideMyAss Read Review
Visit Provider
$11.52
PureVPN PureVPN Read Review
Visit Provider
$9.95
ibVPN ibVPN Read Review
Visit Provider
$7.95
IPVanish IPVanish Read Review
Visit Provider
$6.49
OverPlay OverPlay Read Review
Visit Provider
$9.95

1. VPN.AC

VPN Australia

VPN.AC is based in Romania, which, because of its lax data retention legislation, enables the company to operate with strict confidentiality. Because VPN.AC is managed by a team of IT security pros, its VPN service places emphasis on strong encryption with both 128-bit and 256-bit AES available with added options like Obfuscation support.

For Australia, fast and secure server locations include Sydney and Melbourne, though servers are also available in the US, Canada, UK, Netherlands (for P2P transfers), Hong Kong, Singapore, and elsewhere throughout Europe and Asia.

VPN.AC offer bespoke clients for Windows, Mac OS X, and Android; its service can also be configured manually on other platforms that support VPNs. Added subscription benefits include user access to VPN.AC’s Chrome and Firefox Secureproxy extension, which is used to overcome firewalls (and DPI), unblock geo-restricted content, as well as encrypt all browsing activity using TLS.

Pros:

  • Genuine no-logging policy
  • Emphasis on strong encryption
  • Fast servers
  • Skilled online support staff

Cons:

  • No native iOS client (manual configuration available)

2. Hide My Ass!

hidemyass

Hide My Ass! (HMA) has quickly attracted a solid customer base thanks largely to its fast speeds and its unique app features. With its headquarters in London, HMA is subject to UK data retention legislation, however the company states that no customer-specific information is ever stored in the UK.

HMA boast more than 900 servers in 210 countries, making it among the largest providers in business today. Server locations in Australia include Sydney and Brisbane. Servers use OpenVPN TCP encryption as default though subscribers can also choose from OpenVPN UDP, L2TP/IPSec, and PPTP protocols.

The HMA app for desktops is easy to set up and includes some unique features, including a server speed guide, a toggle tool for changing servers, and load balancing software, which recommends low-traffic servers. Apps are also available for iPhone/iPad and Android devices.

The following three price plans are available: the one month ‘kick-ass’ plan costs $11.52, the ‘half-ass’ package costs $8.33 per month for 6 months, and the ‘Smart-ass’ plan is $6.55 a month for 1 year’s access. Anonymous payment methods include Bitcoin and WebMoney.

Pros:

  • Wide range of servers
  • Easy-to-configure desktop app with cross-platform compatibility and quirky features
  • 30 day money-back guarantee

Cons:

  • 256-bit encryption not available for OpenVPN
  • Kick-ass 1 month plan more expensive than average
  • More expensive than average

Visit Provider


3. PureVPN

PureVPN

PureVPN is a large and reputable provider based in Hong Kong, which has lax data retention laws compared with mainland China. The company is well-known for strong encryption, fast speeds, and a server range spanning 140+ countries. Server locations down under include Perth, Sydney, and Melbourne.

VPNs use AES or 256 SSL encryption with the following protocols: PPTP, SSTP, OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, and IKEv2. There are no restrictions on bandwidth no activity logs are collected.

One key benefit of the VPN service offered by PureVPN is that subscribers can connect on up to 5 devices at once, which makes the provider a favourable choice for families and large households. Another advantage is that users can add Smart DNS to their existing VPN plan.

Subscribers can pay for one month, six months, or a year, with the latter including free Smart DNS. Anonymous payment methods include WebMoney and Bitcoin.

Pros:

  • 5 simultaneous log-ins per account
  • Large server range
  • Strong encryption
  • Smart DNS as an add-on
  • Headquarters in Hong Kong (favorable privacy laws)

Cons:

  • Smart DNS not available separately

Visit Provider


4. ibVPN

ibVPN home

ibVPN runs just under 100 servers in 39 countries, and currently have servers in Melbourne. The provider also offers Smart DNS (ibDNS) for streaming and overcoming geo-restricted content with around 200 unblocked channels.

ibVPN’s client offers several useful features, including the ability to adjust security levels depending on your server, as well as being able to toggle easily between PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN, and SSTP protocols. ibVPN does not restrict bandwidth and activity logs are not collected.

Numerous anonymous payment options are available, including Bitcoin, LiteCoin and OKPay.

Pros:

  • Many server locations to choose from
  • Affordable monthly price plans
  • Based in Romania (beneficial for privacy)
  • Free trial available
  • 15 day money-back guarantee

Cons:

  • Only one connection allowed per user

Visit Provider


5. IPVanish

IPVanish VPN

IPVanish is among the largest and most well-known providers with over 200 servers in 60 plus countries. At the time of writing, there are twenty-nine servers in Sydney and two in Melbourne. IPVanish runs operations out of the US.

VPN users can choose from the following protocols: OpenVPN (UDP or TCP), L2TP/IPSec, and PPTP. Subscribers are not restricted in their bandwidth usage and no connection or usage logs are retained.

The IPVanish VPN app for Windows has some useful features, including a toggle function for moving between encryption protocols and servers and specially optimized servers for gaming and streaming, based on user location.

There are three price plans available: one month, three months, and twelve months. The one year plan is the best value-for-money at $77.99 ($6.49 a month). One month costs $10 while three months cost $26.99. Promotional prices may vary.

Users can pay using numerous anonymous methods, including Bitcoin and PaySafeCard.
Pros:

  • Servers worldwide including Australia
  • Handy in-app features
  • Several anonymous payment methods available

Cons:

  • Maximum of 2 connections allowed per account

Visit Provider


6. OverPlay

OverPlay Netflix

OverPlay specializes in Smart DNS, but it also operates a VPN service with a huge range of servers across the world, including Oceania, Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa. There are currently three server locations in Australia, though we recommend users to contact the provider for more detailed information.

The VPN service offers the following encryption protocols: PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, and OpenVPN. For those interested in Smart DNS for streaming and unblocking content, OverPlay offers access to numerous channels with servers in more than 21 countries. Smart DNS also includes an OverPlay app for iOS devices and includes some useful features, such as JetSwitch, which allows users to unblock restricted channels from the client dashboard.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Smart DNS app for iOS
  • 14 day money-back guarantee

Cons:

  • Bitcoin not accepted

Visit Provider


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Glancing back at the curve.

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