Most Australians are pretty familiar with the NBN. It’s that thing that connects us to the internet and has taken a million years to roll out. What you may not be aware of, however, is that there is more than one broadband network in Australia.
I learned this very abruptly when I moved into a new apartment complex and was told that my building cannot get an NBN connection because it is on the LBN network.
What on earth is the LBN you ask? Let’s break it down.
What is LBN?
LBN stands for Local Broadband Network. It is a privately owned independent company that operates a broadband network in competition with the NBN.
LBN Co offers high-speed fibre-optic connections straight to the home and is often found in new apartment buildings or complexes. Like the NBN, LBN Co onsells its infrastructure network to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who then sell their plans to customers.
LBN offers different tier plans that range from 12 – 250 Mbps. This already exceeds many NBN plans that are inhibited by the copper technology available. However, LBN does not offer gigabit-speed plans right now.
How is it different to the NBN?
The main difference between NBN Co and LBN Co is that one is government-owned and one is independently owned. Just think of them like public and private schools or hospitals.
NBN Co is owned by the Australian government and is available nationally. Meanwhile, LBN Co is a private company offering fibre-based infrastructure that is only available in a handful of locations.
LBN: pros and cons
Because the LBN offers only FTTP and FTTB connections it means it can get very fast average internet speeds. Add on the fact that LBN is only available in a small number of premises and you get less congestion and a more reliable connection.
The trade-off here is that there are only a small number of ISPs for the LBN network – most of which you may never have heard of. Some LBN providers are only available in specific Australian states, while others have nationwide availability.
Because the LBN is privately owned and its prices aren’t regulated by the ACCC, it also means its internet plans tend to be a little pricier. For example, a lot of LBN 25 Mbps plans start around $70 per month, whereas you can get NBN 50 plans for less than that.
ISPs on the LBN also don’t have to adhere to minimum average speeds so there’s no guarantee your internet will be consistently fast.
If you move into a home that’s connected to the LBN network you typically won’t have the option to connect to the NBN at all. You can choose to connect to a mobile broadband internet plan, but if that doesn’t appeal to your best bet is to do your research thoroughly and find an LBN service provider with a plan that works for you.