Optus recently refreshed its entire range of NBN plans with some significant changes. Lock-in contracts have been axed, you get a modem with 4G backup, and the plans are a little bit pricier. But are they actually worth it? Let’s take a closer look.
4G backup is arguably the most interesting change, and sees Optus follow the likes of Telstra and Vodafone in offering broadband customers a bit of extra redundancy. If your NBN goes out, you’ll fallback onto an Optus 4G connection. You’ll still have unlimited data, but your speeds will be limited to 12Mbps down and 1Mbps up. You’re also able to use the 4G connectivity while waiting to get online, if it’s your first time connecting to the NBN.
This service is facilitated through the new Opus “Ultra WiFI Modem”. The modem is included with all Optus NBN plans at no extra cost, but if you leave within your first three years, you’ll need to pay the remaining value of the modem.
This is equivalent to $7 per month for each month remaining in your 36-month term. Telstra and Vodafone’s NBN plans both have a similar catch, although the monthly repayment value differs from telco to telco.
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Before we take a look at how the new offering stacks up, here are Optus' four core new NBN plans:[whistleout src="https://www.whistleout.com.au/Widgets/BroadbandSearch/Embed/2721783?n=14&s=false" ampsrc="https://gizmodo.whistleout.com.au/Widgets/BroadbandSearch/Embed/2721783/Amp?n=14&s=false"]
Optus' "Internet Everyday" plans are its standard option, whereas its "Internet Entertainer" plans also include a Fetch TV subscription for an extra $15 per month. This gets you a Fetch Mighty set-top box and one Premium Channel pack.
So are Optus' new plans a good deal? Here's how they compare.
Optus Unlimited NBN 50 plans[whistleout src="https://www.whistleout.com.au/Widgets/BroadbandSearch/Embed/26554311?n=14" ampsrc="https://gizmodo.whistleout.com.au/Widgets/BroadbandSearch/Embed/26554311/Amp?n=14"]
Optus' new NBN 50 plan is somewhat middle of the road, at least when you exclude timed promotional discounts. It's not the cheapest NBN 50 plan around, but it's far from the priciest. Even if it's a bit more expensive than what it used to be, 4G backup and comparatively high evening speeds of 44Mbps make it a respectable choice.
If you're not interested in 4G backup, Tangerine is your cheapest choice, coming in at $59.90 per month for your first six months and $69.90 per month. Tangerine reports typical evening speeds of 42Mbps, just 2Mbps shy of Optus.
If you want to avoid promotional pricing, TPG reports some of the fastest NBN 50 speeds around: 45.6Mbps. You'll pay $69.99 per month for this plan. If you're interested in TPG, you can either sign an 18-month contract, or pay $129.95 in upfront fees for a contract-free option.
Optus Unlimited NBN 100 plans[whistleout src="https://www.whistleout.com.au/Widgets/BroadbandSearch/Embed/26554282?n=14" ampsrc="https://gizmodo.whistleout.com.au/Widgets/BroadbandSearch/Embed/26554282/Amp?n=14"]
When it comes to NBN 100 plans, Optus is easily one of the more expensive options around, billed at $105 per month. Telstra is the only provider with a pricier NBN 100 plan, at $110 per month.
Optus reports typical evening speeds of 80Mbps on its NBN 100 plan, which is slower than what is available on most cheaper plans. For comparison, Mate, who has one of the cheapest NBN 100 plans not subject to promotional discounts, reports typical evening speeds of 83Mbps.
Superloop reports typical evening speeds of 90Mbps and Aussie Broadband 86Mbps, and both providers offer cheaper NBN 100 plans than Optus.
Optus however also publishes monthly average peak hour download speed figures based on a representative group of customers. The most recent numbers come from February, where Optus was reporting average speeds of 88.8Mbps between 7pm and 11pm. These figures exclude under-performing connections. Telstra also publishes a similar monthly report that excludes underperforming connections.
Of course, Optus does have the benefit of 4G backup. Vodafone is the only provider to offer unlimited 4G backup at a cheaper rate, even when you exclude discounts. Vodafone's NBN 100 plan will set you back $75 per month for your first six months, and $95 per month thereafter.
While the plan is contract-free, you'll face a similar modem situation to Optus if you want 4G backup: if you leave within your first three years, you'll need to pay out the remainder of your modem fees. It's equivalent to $5 per month multiplied by the number of months you've got left in your term.
Tangerine also lets you add on 4G backup to its plans for an extra $15 per month, which brings you to a total of $104.90 per month for an unlimited NBN 100 plan after your discount expires. Tangerine's 4G backup is powered by the Optus network, but you are limited to 30GB per month. You'll also need to pay $199.90 for your modem upfront.
This post was originally published on April 17.
Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia's phone and internet comparison website.
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