Not all internet providers are equal – especially when it comes to the NBN. Buying a fast NBN plan should be simple, but there are a whole lot of factors that affect just how fast your connection is.
How NBN Speeds Differ with providers
Every ISP resells access to the same core network, but the way in which companies like Telstra and Optus buy capacity from NBN Co means download speeds will vary from one telco to another. This can be especially true during busy periods, like after work when the entire neighbourhood is trying to binge Netflix.
If too many people in your area want to rewatch Community at the same time, you can end up with a digital traffic jam if your provider doesn’t have enough capacity. This can be the case whether you’re subscribed to a high-end NBN 100 plan or even a basic NBN 12 plan.
Telcos try to give you an idea of how fast their NBN plans are by reporting typical evening speeds. That is, the kind of speeds you can expect during the busiest hours of the day – between 7pm and 11pm. The faster a provider’s evening speeds, the more reliable your connection will be during the times you use it most. Unsurprisingly, some do a better job than others.
Evening speeds can change, however, and more than a few telcos have recently published new data on how fast their plans are. For the most part, these have been positive changes. As such, we’ve seen a ranking reshuffle. Optus barely used to register in terms of speed when it came to NBN 100 plans, for example, but is now equal second.
To help you pick a provider that consistently delivers the speeds you’re after, we’ve rounded up some of the fastest plans around, based on the most recent evening speed data major ISPs have released.
The fastest NBN 250 plans
If you really want to go hard, you might want to consider an NBN 250 plan. Aussie Broadband currently reports the fastest NBN 250 speeds, measuring in at 222Mbps during peak hours. An Aussie NBN 250 plan will set you back $129 per month.
Optus, Telstra, and Superloop all report typical evening speeds of 215Mbps, with pricing around $130 per month. In the case of Telstra, you will however only pay $130 for your first 12 months, after which your bill will rise to $140 per month.
You’ll only be able to sign-up for an NBN 250 plan if you have a FTTP or HFC NBN connection. At present, only 70% of HFC customers can get NBN 250 speeds, but NBN Co intends to upgrade the network to allow all HFC customers to do so by June 2021.
It’s important to be aware that typical evening speeds disclosed by NBN providers are just an indication of the speeds you can reasonably expect during peak hours. Other factors can still affect the speeds you get at home. These can include the technology you’re using to connect to the NBN, the hardware in your home, and any abnormally high usage in your area.
The fastest NBN 100 plans
Telstra tops the NBN 100 typical evening speed chart, offering a plan with reported typical evening speeds of 100Mbps. That ostensibly means you shouldn’t see any slowdown, no matter what time of day you’re using your connection. A bold promise.
You will pay for it, however. Telstra is unsurprisingly the priciest major NBN provider around. A Telstra NBN 100 plan will set you back $100 per month for your first year, and $110 per month thereafter. Telstra NBN plans also include 4G back-up and a three-month free subscription to Binge. This can be extended by another three months by signing up to Telstra Plus.
Telstra NBN plans are contract-free, but you’ll need to pay out a modem fee if you leave within your first 24 months. This works out to be $9 multiplied by the number of months remaining in your two-year term. For example, if you left after your discount expires, you’d pay a $108 modem fee when you terminate your contract. That’s only $12 cheaper than sticking out the two years.
Optus and Superloop are now tied for second place with typical evening speeds of 90Mbps, but Superloop is easily the cheaper of the pair.
Superloop is currently slinging its NBN 100 plan for $79.95 per month for your first six months if you use the promo code Whistleout10FOR6. You’ll pay $89.95 per month thereafter, and the plan is completely contract-free so you can leave whenever without any catches.
On the other hand, Optus is charging $89 per month for your first year, and then $99 per month thereafter. You’ll also be hit with a $99 setup fee, and a modem fee if you leave within your first three years. This is equivalent to $7 per month for each month remaining in your 36-month term.
This Optus NBN plan also includes a Fetch Mini set-top box which lets you pause and rewind live TV, and an Optus Sport subscription.
Aussie Broadband is a hair behind with typical evening speeds of 89Mbps. An unlimited Aussie NBN 100 plan will set you back $99 per month, but you can drop your bill to $95 per month if you drop down to a 500GB allowance.
If you’re after a cheaper option, it’s worth considering Tangerine. The juicy provider reports typical evening speeds of 83Mbps and you’ll pay just $74.90 per month for your first six months. This will rise to $89.90 per month thereafter.
It’s worth remembering Tangerine’s full price is essentially identical to what you’ll pay for a Superloop NBN 100 plan, who reports faster evening speeds. Tangerine’s plans are all contract-free, so you can always leave after the discount runs out. Hell, you could even become one of those bargain hunters that change NBN plans every six months.
MATE is a solid choice when it comes to plans with no discounts. You’ll pay $79 per month for an unlimited NBN 100 plan with reported typical evening speeds of 83Mbps.
The fastest NBN 50 plans
Telstra is once again your fastest choice when it comes to NBN 50 plans, reporting typical evening speeds of 50Mbps. Of course, Telstra is also pricier than the competition, billing $80 per month for your first year and $90 per month thereafter.
As with its NBN 100 plans, you’ll get 4G back-up and a three-month free subscription to Binge that can be extended by another three months by signing up to Telstra Plus. You’ll also still be up for a modem fee if you leave within your first 24 months. This is equivalent to $9 multiplied by the number of months remaining in your two-year term.
iiNet is up next when it comes to NBN 50 plans, reporting typical evening speeds of 46.7Mbps. You’ll pay $74.99 per month for an unlimited NBN 50 plan with iiNet. This plan is free from contracts and setup fees.
TPG isn’t far behind, with speeds of 46Mbps. While there’s only a fraction difference between the pair, opting for TPG can save you $5 per month. Just be aware that if you’re keen to go with TPG, you’ll need to either pay $129.95 upfront or commit to an 18-month contract.
If you don’t want to sell your soul for 18 months, iiNet’s plan is the better choice. You’d have to spend 26 months with iiNet before a higher monthly bill adds more to your total spend than TPG’s upfront fees.
Internode is currently offering a promo on NBN 50 plans, slashing its unlimited data plan to $59.99 per month for your first six months. You’ll then pay $79.99 per month thereafter. This plan is sold as a six-month contract, but you bounce as soon as the discount runs out.
Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website.
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