Using 4G As An NBN Alternative

Just when it seemed like the NBN rollout was finally going to plan.

NBN cancelled Christmas this week when it announced its plan to halt connections to its HFC network, even for homes where the rollout was complete, pushing back connections for about 2.6 million homes by up to 9 months.

This after years of delays, crumby peak hour performance, industry finger-pointing and recent ACCC intervention. No one would blame you if you decided to give up hope for our national internet utopia and started looking about for another way of to get online.

And you wouldn’t be alone. The conversation about wireless technologies, like 4G and 5G, as an alternative to fixed line connections is ramping up. And with some big changes in mobile broadband plans of late, it’s a good time to take a look.

No Contract 4G Broadband Plans

As you can see, the value in mobile broadband plans has skyrocketed recently. Gone are the days when you'd get 20GB for $50 or more. Now, Mobile Broadband pricing is beginning to look more like fixed-line pricing.

VividWireless and Optus Home Wireless Broadband have the best data-per-dollar plans, but both come with similar caveats. The connections are speed limited to 12Mbps for downloads and both have a limited coverage footprint, so you need to check with them before they will sell you a service. That said, both work well for everyday use; we tested the Optus Home Wireless Broadband and could easily stream Netflix in HD while running a few laptops at the same time.

All other plans listed at full speed on the Optus 4G Plus network, with a trade-off in the amount of data on offer. Also note that the plans sold by the smaller providers like OVO and Jeenee Mobile don't come with a modem, so you'll need to source that separately.

If you're looking for Telstra, there are a few options, but as you'd expect it is a fair bit more expensive. You do get your pick of a good quality of modem/router though, including the Netgear Nighthawk M1.

For many, the data included in these plans still won't be enough to cover their standard monthly usage, but if you're stuck with ADSL2+ as your only internet option while NBN gets its act together, you might find less data on a better connection is a trade-off that is worth making.

Also, if you game online, be warned that latency can suck on 4G, with an average ping hovering around 50ms. Although, when I was testing the Optus modem I did play several games of Overwatch without any trouble. But your mileage may vary.

Joe Hanlon is Publisher at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website. He’s been writing about phones and plans for far too long.

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