Our customers say...

" ...the tech support, initial & ongoing, has been excellent!  The plans are also very competitive! "


Virtual Access ADSL Q&A (removed 23 Aug 11) Print

So you have questions!
Who Doesn't?


Everyone Has Questions.




You can find below a list of the most commonly asked questions about ADSL broadband services. Simply click on the question to see the matching answer.




What is ADSL?
What is Broadband?
Will my PC work on ADSL?
What's a filter (microfilter, central filter, central splitter)?
If I move house, what happens to my service?
Can I access the Internet when I am away from home, at the office or traveling?
Can I keep my email address?
Are Virtual Access ADSL services compatible with X-Box Live?



How does the cost of ADSL compare to dial-up?
I saw a plan that looks cheaper than yours, but is it really cheaper?



What's a firewall?
I've heard people talk about firewalls.
Do I need a firewall?
Why do you recommend hardware firewalls? How can I protect my computer and network?

Applying, churn and activation


How do I apply?
How long does it take to activate a service?
What is churn?
Does Virtual Access support churn?
Can I install the ADSL service myself?
Do you provide an installation service?
Which telephone products are incompatible with ADSL?


What is ADSL?

Back to the List of Questions

ADSL is a high-speed Internet service. It provides for Internet access at around 7-100 times the speed of a dial-up modem (depending on the ADSL service speed, and the performance of your current modem). ADSL also allows you to use your phone and be online at the same time.


What is Broadband?

Back to the List of Questions

Broadband is a generic term that applies to a range of "faster than a modem" Internet products. These include cable, satellite and ADSL. ADSL is one type of broadband Internet access product.


Will my PC work on ADSL?

Back to the List of Questions

While it's true that most PCs can connect to ADSL, for some it's a bit like putting a V8 into the Volkswagen. After all, you want broadband because it's fast, right? If your PC isn't able to keep up, an ADSL service could seem just as slow as a dial-up modem!


For the best results on ADSL, a minimum PC with a Pentium 3, or 4, or a Celeron processor is recommended, along with Windows 2000 or XP and 256Mb or more RAM. Simply, the "bigger" and "faster" the better! While Windows 98 or ME do work, they're really getting old, and support for them from Microsoft is decreasing quickly. When new technologies are introduced, or new security problems are discovered, Windows 98 particularly doesn't always get fixed or improved to deal with these issues. Upgrading is strongly recommended if your PC still runs these older versions of Windows.


If you plan on using a USB modem, you'll need a spare USB port.


If you're connecting an Ethernet modem directly to a single PC, you'll need an ethernet (LAN) port to do that.


If you're connecting an Ethernet modem into your existing network, you'll need a spare port on you hub or switch, or you can choose a modem that has a LAN switch built in and get some extra ports.


Where you have a choice between USB and Ethernet connections, we recommend Ethernet.



What is a filter?
(Microfilter, Central filter or Central Splitter)

Back to the List of Questions

ADSL operates on a standard phone line and can be used at the same time as other telephony devices. To do so, the Broadband modem and the telephony devices need to be shielded from each other. This is done with inline filters (also called microfilters) or a central splitter (also called a central filter).


Microfilters are small boxes that connect between the telephone socket and your telephone. One filter is required for each device that you connect to the phone line (apart from your ADSL modem, which doesn't need a filter).


When considering how many devices need to be filtered, don't forget to count these devices:


  • Telephones - Including cordless phone base stations
  • Answering machines
  • Fax machines
  • Eftpos terminals
  • Foxtel Digital - Uses a telephone connection for interactive features
  • Back-to-base monitored alarm

A Central Filter or Splitter is an alternate option to individual microfilters. Central filters are recommended when:


  • You have more than 3 devices that need to be filtered. A central filter may be more economical, and may maintain telephone line quality superior to that of discrete microfilters (less 'insertion loss')
  • You have an environment where devices are connected/disconnected frequently. Any time an unfiltered device is connected to your ADSL line, either the ADSL service, that device, or both will fail to work properly. If this is a regular occurrence (eg in a busy office), a central filter is recommended.
  • Back-to-base alarms: Unless you know where your alarm plugs in to the phone line, your easiest option is probably to contact your alarm company. Reputable alarm companies have qualified Austel installers available, and will be able to install a central filter for you.
  • PABX systems (eg Commander): It is usually preferable to install ADSL services on lines that don't act as part of your phone system, such as the office fax line. If this is a requirement though, talk to your telephone technician about installing a central splitter to provide a "branch outlet" for your ADSL modem, and filtered service for your PABX.


Because of the hard-wired nature of central filters, they must be installed ONLY by Austel licensed cablers.



If I move house, what happens to my ADSL service?

Back to the List of Questions

ADSL services are specific to the phone line that they are enabled on. When you move, you need to apply for a new service and disconnect the old service.


You can download an address change form by clicking here


Contact our office on 1300 132351 if you require assistance with the process.


Can I access the Internet when I am away from home, at the office or traveling?

Back to the List of Questions



There are a couple of alternatives, depending on exactly what you need to do.


Your email can be accessed from any Internet connected PC (at a friend's house, your office, an Internet cafe, etc) using Virtual Access WebMail. Just visit www.virtual.net.au and click on "My MailBox".


Your ADSL service also allows you to use our dial-up service from almost anywhere in Australia at local call rates. Each calendar month, the first 10 hours of dial-up time are INCLUDED AT NO EXTRA CHARGE with your Virtual Access ADSL service. A low $0.33/Hr fee applies for any additional usage, and charges appear on your next monthly invoice.


Can I keep my email address?

Back to the List of Questions



If you're a Virtual Access dial-up customer, you can move to our ADSL service and retain your current email address.


Are Virtual Access services compatible with X-Box Live?

Back to the List of Questions



Your X-Box Live will work with our ADSL Services. Microsoft recommend service speeds of 512k/128k or better for optimum performance (ie not 256/64k)


How does the cost of ADSL compare to dial-up?

Back to the List of Questions

The answer to this question really depends on your current usage and expenses, but consider these factors:


Dial-Up Costs:


  • Every time you connect to your ISP (or dial and fail to connect), you pay your phone company for a local call. If you connect on average 3 times a day, that's about $20 per month on top of your ISP plan costs. These costs no longer apply when using an ADSL service
  • If you have installed a telephone line especially for your modem's use, it's no longer required with ADSL. Disconnecting that line will save you around $25 - $35 per month in line rental fees.


Other features:


You can use an ADSL service for more than you currently use dial-up for. As an example, by connecting up to a VoIP telephony provider, you might make some huge savings on your phone bill. Talk to Virtual Access about how this works.


Time is money:


By far and away the biggest benefits of ADSL for most people can be summed up on two words: speed and convenience. Not only is an ADSL service "always on", but it's also much faster than dial-up. Your time is precious, and if your use the Internet regularly, you'll find you spend a lot less time getting things done. The savings you make here can be better spent on your business or family, and that's hard for us to put a value on.


The equation:


Ultimately, everyone's equation is different. For some people, ADSL actually turns out to be cheaper than dial-up. For most, ADSL is a few dollars a month more expensive. However, when you consider the speed, convenience and access to new technologies that ADSL offers, the additional cost is usually well worthwhile.


I saw a plan that looks cheaper than yours, but is it really cheaper?

Back to the List of Questions

Here's a few of the things to be careful about when comparing plans:


  • Download metering method

Some providers count traffic in BOTH directions (uploads and downloads) on broadband services. Typically, dial-up service usage has been reported as DOWNLOAD ONLY, and that can muck up your estimates quickly.

Virtual Access measures DOWNLOADS ONLY on both dial-up and ADSL services.


  • Excess use charges

Excess use charges probably vary more than any other attribute of ADSL service plans.

Virtual Access charges a LOW fee - 0.99 cents per Megabyte (or $9.90 per Gigabyte). By comparison, many providers charge up to 20 cents per Megabyte. While that doesn't sound like much, when you think of it as $200 per Gigabyte, the potential bill for excess use will mount up quickly!
  • Long Contracts

Many plans come with minimum 12 or 24 month contract terms, often involving your landline and mobile telephone services as well as Internet access. Before you sign, check what it is you're really getting into - the overall package may not be the value it appears to be. Buyer beware!


Virtual Access offers a range of contract terms - from 0 to 24 months - to suit your needs and budget.


  • Low Grade Hardware

Cheap plans usually come with cheap hardware. We looked at the need for firewalls elsewhere in this FAQ. On a low cost plan, you shouldn't expect one to be provided for you - you'll need to bring your own.


On ALL Virtual Access plans, you get to choose your hardware - from simple modems to advanced wireless router/firewalls - or you can bring your own if you prefer!


  • Poor Support

Some low cost plans have poor support. Help may only be available during business hours, or you may have to wait a long time (30-60 minute delays are reported at some low-cost providers) to talk to an operator.


Before you sign up, ask your new provider for their support number and make a few test calls to check the time it takes to get through to a support person at various times of day.


  • Headline Rates


Larger ISPs often use headline rates as a means to get your attention, and then "hook you".


Often a headline rate disguises hidden expenses, or obscures the amount of service that's included for the advertised price. These providers recognise that the vast majority of customers on these plans will have to upgrade to a more expensive (i.e. profitable) plan in time, and can afford to take a finanical risk (loss) on those who don't need to.


Most times, getting the advertised price will involve "bundling" of multiple services - like your landline and mobile phone for example. In a bundling scenario you may end up with a great Internet plan, but with telephone plans that costs more than you saved on the Internet. After all, it doesn't matter how good the deal looks. What matters is how much it costs you.


You get what you pay for, and you're generally stuck with it for a while. Before you sign, check how much it will cost to change your service later, and that your budget will allow you to upgrade the plan quickly - you might need to. Also check that you're happy with the whole package on offer and the service you'll receive.


What's a firewall?
I've heard people talk about firewalls

Back to the List of Questions

A firewall is a device or program that protects your computer from hackers and some kinds of viruses and trojans. It can be either a program that runs on your computer, or - our prefered type - a hardware device. (That is, a "box" that goes between the Internet and your computer.)


Do I need a firewall?

Back to the List of Questions

The "always on" nature of ADSL means that your computer is often visible at the same Internet address for days at a time. This gives would-be attackers ample opportunity to find your computer's vulnerabilities and exploit them.


Fact: Any time you get a crowd of people together, not all of them are "good folks", and the Internet is probably the biggest "crowd" you're likely to find yourself in!


It is not unusual for an individual computer that's online for a day to be the target of around 100 attempts at unauthorised access. Some are just accidental, but most are due to virus activity or automated probes that report on vulnerable targets for later attacks. Some are even attacks themselves. We cannot (as your ISP) block these intrusions, because all of them could be legitimate traffic.


Keeping your Operating System up-to-date through Microsoft Update (http://update.microsoft.com) and regular (at least twice weekly) updates to antivirus software are part of the security solution. With broadband though, a firewall is also highly recommended - without it, your computer is an electronic "sitting duck" - especially with earlier versions of Windows.


Why do you recommend hardware firewalls?
How can I protect my computer and network?

Back to the List of Questions


While it is possible to set up firewalls using software on your PC (or PCs), it's often simpler to have one as part of your ADSL modem or router - This is also known as a "Hardware Firewall".


Benefits of hardware firewall:


  • One firewall services all of your PCs, so if you have more than one, the hardware option is all that you need. By contract, you would need to install a software firewall on every PC with Internet access.
  • Because it's not on your PC, it's unlikely to be tampered with by other software (eg a virus that tries to circumvent security)
  • Being configured separately from your PC, it's also less likely to be effected by well intentioned friends (the "here, let me fix that for you" type) or the kids


Ultimately, the cost of a hardware firewall adds very little to the price of your ADSL hardware. We feel that the additional few dollars is a great investment in security.


How do I apply?

Back to the List of Questions

Download and print the application form (PDF). Complete it and return it to Virtual Access by fax or mail (full details are on the form).


How long does it take to activate a service?

Back to the List of Questions

Most services are activated in around 5 working days.


Please note that in some cases, it takes longer to get service due to capacity issues at your local telephone exchange, or problems with your telephone line.


Virtual Access proactively monitors the status of pending ADSL orders, and reports any news to you by email as soon as it is known.


What is churn?
Does Virtual Access support churn?

Back to the List of Questions

Churn is the name given to a process that allows you to move an ADSL service from one ISP to another without actually disconnecting. A service undergoing a churn usually suffers disruption for only a few hours. Disconnecting and reconnecting would involve at least several days downtime.


Virtual Access participates in the industry churn programme through our upstream partners. This means that if you already have an ADSL service, you can churn to Virtual Access at any time.


For more information, see the Virtual Access ADSL Churn form (PDF).



Can I install the ADSL service myself?

Back to the List of Questions



If you purchase your ADSL modem from Virtual Access, we'll provide a simple guide to the installation process. If you run into trouble, you can always give us a call.


Do you provide an installation service?

Back to the List of Questions



However, if you require one, give our sales office a call. We regularly work with a number of field technicians and may be able to provide a referral to someone in your area.


Which telephone products are incompatible with ADSL?

Back to the List of Questions

The following telephone products are incompatible with ADSL:


  • Analogue NT1
  • Call Diversion Number Only
  • Changed Number Information Service
  • Communic8 Prepaid Home
  • Customer Loop Metering
  • CVPN
  • Easy Call + Multiple Number - Auxiliary number
  • Faxstream Deut - Auxiliary number
  • InContact
  • IPSTS (Mobile) Service
  • IPSTS (Satellite) Auxiliary Service
  • ISDN 2
  • ISDN 2 Enhanced
  • ISDN Home
  • MessageBank Virtual
  • OnRamp 2, 10, 20, 30
  • Payphone
  • Ported Local Number
  • Satellite Services
  • Siteline




Contact the Virtual Access sales office for further information on these products if required.


More information? Download our:

Application form (PDF, Approx 160Kb)
Churn authorisation form (PDF, Approx 100Kb)
Plan change request form for existing customers (PDF, Approx 80Kb)
  Address change/Service relocation form for existing customers
(PDF, Approx 120Kb)