If you’ve got unreliable NBN, it’s time to look at some alternatives. 5G home internet options have become more widely available, there are more 4G home internet plans than ever, and there are even a couple of supersized mobile broadband plans.
While these alternatives might not be right for every kind of user, home wireless broadband and mobile broadband plans can be genuine fixed line alternatives.
Here’s what you need to know about home wireless broadband and mobile broadband, and some of the best plans for both.
5G home wireless broadband
5G isn’t available to everyone yet, but Telstra’s 5G footprint now covers 75 per cent of the population, while Optus says its 5G is available at over 1.2 million addresses.
Both telcos now have 5G home internet plans – that is, a 5G-powered internet solution designed to work as an alternative to a fixed line connection such as the NBN. These plans are designed for home use, which means the modems require a constant power source. This does however mean the modems you get tend to be rather robust, and have extras like multiple gigabit ports.
Telstra has just one 5G home internet plan, which comes with a 1TB allowance. If you go over this, you’ll be capped to speeds of 25Mbps. Telstra is currently offering new customers their first month free, after which it charges $85 per month. The plan is genuinely contract-free, however. You can cancel at any time, you’ll just need to return your modem if you do so within your first two years.
Telstra reports typical evening speeds of 378Mbps on its 5G home internet plan, but says download speeds can range between 50Mbps and 600Mbps.
Optus has two 5G home internet plans, both with unlimited data. The first is billed at $79 per month, and is capped to speeds of 100Mbps, but you can get your first month free. The second features uncapped speeds, has a free month, and then your next six months discounted to $79 per month. You’ll then pay $99 per month thereafter.
Optus reports typical evening speeds of 83Mbps on its capped 5G plan. On the uncapped plan, these jump to 210Mbps. In both cases, Optus says 50Mbps is the lowest download speed you should see.
If you’re consistently getting under 50Mbps, Optus has a satisfaction guarantee that lets you cancel your plan without paying a modem fee. The plans are technically contract-free, but there’s a catch. If you leave within your first 36 months, you’ll be hit with a modem fee. This is equivalent to $16 multiplied by the number of months left in your three-year term.
4G home wireless broadband
If you can’t get 5G yet, 4G home wireless broadband works much the same way – the plans will just be a bit slower.
Some home wireless broadband plans have speed caps, while others run at full 4G speeds. The TPG family – TPG, iiNet, Internode and Vodafone – all have 4G home internet plans with unlimited data, but you’ll be restricted to download speeds of 20Mbps. That’s just a bit slower than NBN 25.
If you want faster home wireless broadband, the likes of Optus, Moose Mobile and SpinTel offer plans with uncapped 4G speeds. In our testing, we’ve experienced speeds between 20Mbps and 50Mbps via Optus 4G home wireless providers.
4G mobile broadband
As the name might suggest, mobile broadband is an internet connection similar to the kind you get on your smartphone. The majority of mobile broadband plans are powered by 4G networks, with pricing similar to what you’d get on a standard mobile plan but with a larger data allowance.
The average mobile broadband plan has less data than a 4G home wireless broadband plan, but you won’t deal with speed caps and they can be more flexible. The dongles and portable hotspots you use with a mobile broadband plan tend to be battery-powered, so they’re great for hitting the road. Alternatively, you can just get a SIM-only mobile broadband plan and use it with your own hotspot, a tablet, or even a spare phone.
Here are some SIM-only mobile broadband plans with at least 100GB. Just be aware that you’ll need to bring your own modem with these.
SpinTel is one of your cheapest options for a big data plan, doing 200GB for $54.95 per month for your first six months, and $59.95 per month thereafter. SpinTel is powered by the Optus network.
Telstra has the largest mobile broadband plan around with a massive 400GB allowance. You’ll pay $75 per month for your first two years, and $85 per month thereafter.
5G mobile broadband
In addition to 4G mobile broadband, you can also opt for faster 5G mobile broadband. Of course, this does require a hotspot or modem with 5G network support. As it stands, Telstra is the only telco with a 5G-ready portable hotspot available. Your cheapest option is the Telstra 5G Wi-Fi Pro, which will add $24.95 per month to your bill in device costs on a 24-term month.
Not all Telstra mobile broadband plans support 5G. If you want next-generation coverage, you’ll need to opt for the telco’s 75GB plan at a minimum, but if you’re looking at actually replacing your NBN connection, the aforementioned 400GB plan is the better pick.
Here are Telstra’s 5G-ready mobile broadband plans. Note that these exclude modem costs:
Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website.