It’s easy to think every NBN plan and provider is equal, given they’re selling access to the same network. But despite standard speed tiers, performance varies from provider to provider, especially during peak hour.
Australia’s Best NBN plans: not all speeds are equal
While we’re all connecting to the same NBN, the way providers buy capacity on the network means speeds can and will vary from Telstra to TPG, for example. This is most noticeable during busy periods, such as when everyone is trying to binge Netflix at the same time. If everyone is trying to rewatch Community, you can end up with a digital traffic jam.
Thanks to the ACCC, NBN Providers must reveal what kind of speeds you can realistically expect to get during busy hours – not just the speed tier your plan is based on. Fortunately, there are a whole heap of providers that do an excellent job of consistently delivering the speeds their customers pay for, so we’re going to take a look at the best of the best.
We’re going through providers in order of fastest evening speeds for NBN 100 plans, but in some cases, a provider may not be best in class for all speed tiers. Superloop for example, has one of the fastest NBN 100 plans from any major provider right now, but many telcos offer a faster NBN 50 plan.
Best Telstra NBN plans
Telstra is the top dog when it comes to evening speeds right now, ostensibly advertising congestion-free plans. It reports 100Mbps on NBN 100 plans, 50Mbps on NBN 50 plans, and 25Mbps on NBN 25 plans. That’s each plan’s maximum potential speed across the board, which might just be enough to make Telstra’s premium pricing a little more palatable.
Telstra also offers NBN 250 and NBN 1000 plans, but its speed guidance for these is more conservative. The telco reports 215Mbps during busy periods on NBN 250 plans, and 250Mbps on NBN 1000 plans. That’s very much in line with what other providers offer on these tiers.
NBN 250 plans are only available to FTTP customers and 70 per cent of HFC customers. NBN 100 plans are only available to FTTP customers, and 7 per cent of HFC customers. NBN Co hopes that all HFC customers will be able to sign-up for an NBN 250 plan by June this year.
TPG’s evening speeds have fluctuated a bit over time, and while it recently reported NBN 100 speeds of just 80Mbps during peak hour, these have shot back up to 95Mbps. That puts it in equal second place, alongside stablemate iiNet.
TPG also reports typical evening speeds on NBN 50 plans – 48Mbps – which once again ties it with iiNet.
Customers on TPG NBN 12 plans can expect evening speeds of 12Mbps and customers on NBN 25 plans are looking at 22Mbps.
iiNet now ties with TPG in terms of evening speeds, putting it in equal second place. You can expect 95Mbps on NBN 100 plans, 48Mbps on NBN 50 plans, or 22Mbps on NBN 25 plans.
In addition, iiNet has started offering NBN 250 and NBN 1000 plans. In both cases, it is reporting typical evening speeds of 200Mbps, but says these will be updated after it has more real-world performance information.
Superloop may no longer be the fastest major NBN provider around, but it still fares well thanks to typical evening speeds of 90Mbps. This puts it in equal third alongside Optus and SpinTel.
In addition to speed, Superloop stands out because it owns a lot of the infrastructure many other providers typically rent. Every NBN provider sells access to the same network, but that network only connects you to your provider.
After that, your provider is responsible for connecting to you the rest of the internet. This is referred to as “backhaul”. Superloop owns its own backhaul, and as such, says even its home NBN plans are “business class”.
Superloop reports evening speeds of 44.4Mbps on NBN 50 plans and 22.2Mbps on NBN 25 plans.
Superloop also offers NBN plans with speeds faster than 100Mbps. It says customers get typical evening speeds of 215Mbps on its NBN 250 plan, and 250Mbps on its NBN 1000 plan. Just be aware that Superloop’s NBN 1000 plan isn’t unlimited, unlike most NBN 1000 plans. Instead, you’ll get a 3TB allowance. If you manage to exceed it, you’ll be capped to speeds of 100Mbps.
Best NBN Optus plans
Optus’ evening speeds used to be pretty average, but it’s now in equal third alongside Superloop and SpinTel. The telco says customers can expect 90Mbps on NBN 100 plans and 45Mbps on NBN 50 plans.
Optus also has NBN 250 and NBN 1000 plans in its roster and is reporting the stock standard 215Mbps and 250Mbps typical evening speeds on these, respectively.
SpinTel is the last player in equal third, reporting significantly higher speeds than it used to across all three tiers. You can now expect 90Mbps on an NBN 100 plan, 45Mbps on an NBN 50 plan, and 21Mbps on a NBN 25 plan. Considering SpinTel tends to undercut the competition, the combination of high speeds and lower prices certainly makes the telco worth a look.
Best Aussie Broadband NBN Plans
Aussie Broadband must be one of the most loved NBN providers, and it’s easy to understand why. The telco seems to pride itself on ensuring customers don’t encounter congestion, and backs this up with bandwidth graphs showing how much capacity it has on the NBN versus how much is being used.
Aussie Broadband reports evening speeds of 89Mbps on NBN 100 plans, 43Mbps on NBN 50 plans, and 22Mbps on NBN 25 plans. You’ll also find a rather unusual NBN 75 speed tier where Aussie reports typical evening speeds of 66Mbps.
Aussie Broadband also offers plans faster than NBN 100, and currently boasts the fastest NBN 250 plan around, with typical evening speeds of 222Mbps.
Aussie Broadband doesn’t currently report typical evening speeds for its NBN 1000 but has previously suggested typical evening speeds of 250Mbps. It hopes to provide more accurate guidance after it has collected enough data from network testing.
Internode is another solid performer when it comes to NBN 100 and NBN 50 plans, reporting typical evening speeds of 85Mbps and 45Mbps, respectively. It’s NBN 25 plans are a tad slower than they should be for the speed tier, measuring in at 16.4Mbps during peak hours. Ideally, you want a minimum of 20Mbps. Pass on Internode if you’re only looking for an NBN 25 plan.
Internode recently introduced NBN 250 and NBN 1000 plans and reports typical evening speeds of 200Mbps on both. The provider says that these are estimates, and hopes to provide more accurate figures as it gets real world usage data from customers on these speed tiers.
Best Vodafone NBN Plans
Vodafone is another telco that’s also recently increased its evening speed guidance. You can now expect typical evening speeds of 85Mbps on NBN 100 plans, 46Mbps on NBN 50 plans, and 23Mbps on NBN 25 plans.
While Vodafone’s NBN plans are a little on the pricier side, you can earn a discount by bundling one with other postpaid services. Vodafone will add a 5% discount to your entire monthly bill for every plan you have after your first, up to a maximum of 20%. That’s significant if you’ve got the whole family on Vodafone.
Postpaid mobile, mobile broadband, tablet, and NBN plans are all eligible for the bundle discount.
Kogan Internet is quite literally Vodafone NBN by another name. You don’t get the option for a modem with 4G backup and won’t get a discount for bundling, but you’ll get a slightly cheaper plan.
Unsurprisingly, Kogan reports identical speeds to Vodafone. 85Mbps on NBN 100 plans, 46Mbps on NBN 50 plans, and 23Mbps on NBN 25 plans. Kogan also has an NBN 250 and NBN 1000 plan, with typical evening speeds of 200Mbps and 250Mbps, respectively.
Tangerine is a newish NBN provider but has already racked up over 40,000 subscribers. This is partially thanks to heavily discounted pricing during your first six months, and a 14-day risk free trial on plans.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that Tangerine does a solid job when it comes to evening speeds. The telco reports 83Mbps on NBN 100 plans, 42Mbps on NBN 50 plans, and 21Mbps on NBN 25 plans.
If you’re lucky enough to be able to get an NBN 250 plan, Tangerine reports typical evening speeds of 205Mbps on this speed tier.
MATE also reports respectable performance, with evening speeds of 83Mbps on NBN 100 plans, 42Mbps on NBN 50 plans, 19Mbps on NBN 25 plans, and 10Mbps on NBN 12 plans.
If you’re looking for an NBN plan free from promotional discounts, MATE tends to be one of the cheapest providers around. You can also save $10 per month on any MATE NBN plans by bundling them with one of the provider’s SIM-only mobile plans. MATE’s mobile plans start at $20 per month for 5GB and are powered by the Telstra network.
MyRepublic fares well when it comes to evening speeds. Customers can expect typical evening speeds of 83Mbps on NBN 100 plans, and 43Mbps on NBN 50 plans. Avoid MyRepublic NBN 25 plans however, as the telco only reports peak hour speeds of 15Mbps on those. Most other providers report at least 20Mbps on NBN 25 plans during busy periods.
MyRepublic also has an NBN 250 plan, and reports typical evening speeds of 150Mbps on it. That makes it the slowest NBN 250 plan around, but it’s also a little more affordable than other options.
iPrimus isn’t the fastest provider around, but it still does alright. It reports typical evening speeds of 82Mbps on NBN 100 plans, 41Mbps on NBN 50 plans, and 20Mbps on NBN 25 plans. Not spectacular, but not bad either. iPrimus has an NBN 250 plan, but has yet to provide speed guidance for it.
Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website.