The NBN is the last thing you want going down on you. Many of us are now relying on our home internet connections more than ever, which makes an internet outage all the more frustrating. While outages can and will happen, there are now a small number of NBN providers that offer plans with 4G backup.
How NBN plans with 4G backup work
These plans all work in a similar way: they come with a modem that connects you to both the NBN and a mobile network. If your NBN carks it, the modem will swap to 4G to keep you online.
There is however a catch. 4G backup is slower than normal NBN speeds. Telstra caps its 4G backup speeds to 25Mbps, while every other provider offering mobile redundancy caps them to 12Mbps.
Essentially, you’re either looking at NBN 25 or NBN 12-esque speeds. That’s certainly a downgrade if you’re on an NBN 100 plan, but hey, I know I’d rather have some connectivity rather than no connectivity.
With that in mind, here’s a look at what providers offer 4G backup and their plans.
Telstra NBN plans
All Big T NBN plans come with the telco’s second generation “Smart Modem”, a modem router with 4G backup. Since it has integrated 4G, you can get online before your NBN is connected, but it will also kick in whenever your NBN goes down.
Telstra’s 4G backup pulls from your plans download allowance, but most Telstra NBN plans are unlimited. Telstra limits 4G download speeds on consumer NBN plans to 25Mbps down, and 2Mbps up. This makes Telstra your fastest option for download speeds over 4G backup, but Tangerine has the fastest upload speeds.
Here’s a look at Telstra’s NBN plans:
Telstra is currently running a $20 per month discount on its NBN 100 plan, which brings down the price to $90 per month for your first year. You’ll pay $110 per month thereafter.
Customers who sign-up online will also have the $99 connection fee waived, and can get three months of free access to Binge. This can be extended by another three months by joining Telstra Plus for free.
Telstra NBN plans are technically contract-free, but you’ll need to pay out the prorated value of the included modem if you leave within your first 24 months. This is equivalent to $9 multiplied by the number of months in your two-year term.
If you want faster 4G backup, Telstra’s small business NBN plans are uncapped in terms of speeds. Exact speeds will depend on your location and the time of day, but we’ve found that the Telstra network can comfortably hit speeds between 50Mbps and 100Mbps in most metro areas.
When signing up for a Vodafone NBN plan, customers have the option to grab the Vodafone Wi-Fi Hub modem. This has integrated 4G backup that can be used for up to 30 consecutive days while you’re waiting to connect to the NBN, or whenever you’re experiencing an outage.
Vodafone 4G backup has unlimited data, but your speeds will be limited to 12Mbps down and 1Mbps up.
Here’s a look at Vodafone’s NBN plans:
Vodafone is currently offering a $10 per month discount on all its NBN plans. This lasts for your first six months. You can also bring down your bill further by bundling with any other postpaid Vodafone service.
Vodafone offers a 5% discount for every plan on your account after your first, for a maximum discount of 20%. This includes mobile, NBN, mobile broadband, and tablet plans.
Vodafone NBN plans are contract-free, but once again, you’ll need to pay a modem fee if you leave within your first 36 months. This is equivalent to $5 multiplied by the number of months left in your three-year term.
Optus NBN plans
Optus is the latest major provider to offer 4G backup, via its new Ultra WiFi modem. Once again, you can connect to the Optus 4G network to get online while you’re waiting for your NBN to be set up, and if you’re dealing with an outage.
Optus 4G backup is unlimited, but your speeds are limited to 12Mbps down and 1Mbps up.
Here’s a look at Optus’ NBN plans:
Optus is currently waiving the $99 setup fee on NBN plans for customers who sign up before December 6.
Optus’ NBN plans are contract-free, but you’ll have to pay out a prorated modem fee if you leave within your first 36 months. The modem fee is equivalent to $7 multiplied by the number of months remaining in your term.
Tangerine is the first smallish provider to offer 4G back up, but since it doesn’t have a mobile network, it’s a little different to what’s offered by the big three. 4G backup is a standard plan feature, doesn’t have unlimited data, and costs extra.
If you want 4G backup on a Tangerine plan, you’ll need to drop $189.90 on its 4G backup modem – the Netcomm NL19ACV – when you sign up. You’ll also pay a further $15 per month. This covers 30GB of backup data capped to speeds of 12Mbps down and 12Mbps up. That’s the fastest upload speed of any provider with 4G backup.
$15 per month certainly adds to the price of an NBN plan, but it would typically only buy you around 5GB or so if you were picking up a mobile broadband plan for backup reasons.
Tangerine’s 4G backup is powered by the Optus network.
Here’s a look at Tangerine’s NBN plans:
Tangerine is currently running discounts on all its NBN plans. You can save $10 per month on NBN 25, NBN 50, and NBN 250 plans, or $15 per month on NBN 100 plans. This discount lasts for your first six months.
All Tangerine NBN plans have a 14-day satisfaction guarantee. If you decide you want to bail on Tangerine within your first two weeks, you can get a full refund of your plan fees. Modems can not be refunded, however. Tangerine’s modems are unlocked and will work with any other provider.
Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website.