NBN Showdown: Telstra vs Optus

NBN Showdown: Telstra vs Optus
Image: iStock

Telstra and Optus are two of Australia’s largest NBN providers, with both skewing toward the premium end of the pricing spectrum. More expensive NBN plans often come with perks like more reliable peak hour speeds and other bonuses, but if you’re going to drop top dollar on your internet plan, which provider should you pick?

Speeds

Telstra and Optus both report some of the fastest typical evening speeds around, at least on plans as fast as NBN 100. Here’s how they compare.

Telstra and Optus both report typical evening speeds of 100Mbps on NBN 100 plans and 50Mbps on NBN 50 plans. This means you shouldn’t see any difference between Telstra and Optus on these speed tiers.

Telstra does however have the edge when it comes to plans faster than NBN 100. It’s currently reporting 250Mbps on NBN 250 plans, while Optus is reporting a still respectable 215Mbps.

The gap becomes much wider when it comes to NBN 1000 plans. Telstra reports 700Mbps on its NBN 1000 plan, which makes it the fastest performer we’ve seen on this speed tier. Optus only reports 250Mbps on NBN 1000 plans.

Telstra also has an NBN 25 plan, while Optus doesn’t.

Contracts and Setup Fees

Telstra and Optus NBN plans are both technically contract-free, but you’ll get stung with a modem fee if you leave “early”.

Telstra plans include a second-generation Smart Modem with 4G backup, valued at $216. If you leave within your first 24 months, you’ll need to pay out the prorated value of your modem. This is equivalent to $9 per month left in your term.

Telstra NBN plans normally have a $99 setup fee, but the telco will waive this if you sign up online.

You’ll find similar on Optus. Plans are bundled with the Ultra WiFi Modem with 4G backup, valued at $252. If you leave within your first three years, you’ll pay out a prorated amount equivalent to $7 per month left in your term.

If you want to add in a WiFi Booster to extend your network range (included in Optus’ Ultimate plans) you’ll also need to pay off the booster. This is valued at $216, which works out to a further $6 per month for each month left in your three-year term. This means you’re looking at a total exit fee of $13 per month you’ve got left.

Optus also has a gamer plan that comes bundled with an ASUS DSL-AX5400 WiFi 6 gaming modem available on NBN 100 and faster. If you go for the gaming option, you won’t get 4G backup and you’ll be hit with a modem fee of $14 for each month left in your three year term if you choose to leave early.

NBN 50 plans

When it comes to NBN 50 plans, Optus plans start at $79 per month, while Telstra plans start at $95. Telstra will currently give you your first month for just $1.

Optus also has a family NBN 50 that includes the aforementioned WiFi extender. This will set you back $79 per month for your first six months and $89 per month thereafter.

NBN 100 plans

Optus has three options available when it comes to NBN 100 plans. Firstly, there’s the standard plan where you’ll pay $89 per month for your first six months and $99 per month thereafter.

Next, there’s the gamer plan at $99 per month. This plan includes the ASUS gaming modem and a free static IP.

Lastly, there’s the family plan with a WiFi extender at $90 per month for your first six months and $109 per month thereafter.

On Telstra, you’ll pay $110 per month, but you can get your first month for just $1.

NBN 250 plans

Once again, Optus has three NBN 250 options. The basic option at $99 per month for your first six months, and $119 per month thereafter. The gaming option at $109 per month for your first six months, and $119 per month thereafter. And the family option at $109 per month for your first six months and $129 per month thereafter.

Telstra has just one NBN 250 plan where you’ll pay $140 per month, but just $31 for your first month.

NBN 250 plans are only available to those with FTTP or HFC connections.

NBN 1000 plans

It’s a similar story on NBN 1000 plans. Optus has three choices. A standard plan at $129 per month for your first six months, and $149 per month thereafter. A gamer plan at $139 per month for your first six months, and $149 per month thereafter. And a family plan at $139 per month, and $159 per month thereafter.

Telstra charges $180 per month for its NBN 1000 plan, but you’ll get your first month for $71.

NBN 1000 plans are available to FTTP premises, and about 90% of HFC premises.

Extras

Given both Telstra and Optus and NBN plans are a little more premium in pricing, it’s natural to expect a few perks.

Firstly, both Telstra and Optus’ bundled modems offer 4G backup if your NBN connection carks it. In the event of an outage, you’ll be able to keep using your plan with download speeds of up to 25Mbps. The one exception to this is Optus’ gamer plans.

Big T customers also get access to the Telstra Plus perks program. Telstra Plus members get:

  • $12.50 movie tickets for Event and BCC cinemas, excluding sessions after 5pm on a Saturday, public holidays, and special events. A $3 surcharge applies after 5pm on Saturdays and on public holidays
  • Free popcorn and drink large combo upgrade when you book a movie ticket through Telstra
  • Discounted tickets to select sporting events
  • Presale tickets for select concerts and events

You’ll need to join Telstra Plus to get these offers.

Telstra is currently giving new NBN subscribers three months of free access to Binge.

In addition, joining Telstra Plus earns 10 points for every dollar you spend on your monthly bill as part of a Frequent Flyer style rewards scheme. You can spend these points on selected gadgets or use the points discounts on devices.

Optus used to have a perks program, but now all it offers is discounted tickets for Hoyts cinemas. These will set you back $12.50 for an adult ticket or $27 for LUX for any session on any day (including Saturday nights).

Optus NBN customers also get themselves a free Optus Sport subscription.

What about the rest?

If neither Telstra or Optus seem right for you, here’s a look at how their NBN 50 plans stack up to the competition:


Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website.