Before we go into details about the NBN providers we’ve compared, it’s important to understand the difference between the data download speeds you can pay for, to help you put the prices of these plans into perspective. It’s also a good idea if you check the details of your existing broadband plan, to give you a good idea of what download speed you think you will need – and what is going to represent good value for money for you.
The NBN is available on four different speed tiers that ultimately dictate how fast your internet will be.
- NBN 12: 12/1 Mbps download/upload
- NBN 25: 25/5 Mbps download/upload
- NBN 50: 50/20 Mbps download/upload
- NBN 100: 100/40 Mbps: download/upload
When visiting various Internet Service Provider (ISP) websites, you might realise that you have to do some digging to find out how fast you can go for your money. So, this is what you can expect with the NBN.
The higher the speed tier, the faster your internet should be, with an emphasis on ‘should’. While the speeds listed above are theoretical and achievable, speeds in reality may change based on factors such as demand during peak periods, where you live, and even the weather. The technology through which your NBN service is delivered will also have an impact.
Generally, the faster you go, the more you will need to pay. It’s worth noting, however, that NBN 12 is not actually considered ‘superfast’ internet as it is comparable with standard ADSL2+ connections. Instead, NBN 25 is the first superfast speed tier. Now, let’s assess what some of the biggest NBN providers are offering.
We arrive at TPG first because the telco currently tops our customer satisfaction ratings for NBN service providers – and it’s easy to understand why when you see its broadband plans. TPG breaks its NBN plans into three categories – Standard, Boost and Superfast – all of which come with a Wi-Fi modem and are bundled with the telco’s Digital Voice Service. Each category includes three plan options based on data allowance or call inclusions.
- Standard Plans: TPG Standard plans all come with a maximum download speed of 12Mbps. The cheapest deal at $29.99 comes with just 10GB of data, while the cheapest unlimited plan will cost $59.99. In between you can get 100GB of data for $49.99
- Boost Plans: TPG Boost plans come with a maximum download speed of 25Mbps. All three options boast unlimited data. The cheapest of these Boost plans is the $69.99 package which brings local, national, mobile and international calls at PAYG rates. For unlimited local or international calls, you can upgrade to either the $79.99 or $89.99 plan
- Superfast Plans: TPG’s Superfast plans are for serious internet users, bringing a maximum download speed of 100Mbps. You’ll pay a minimum of $89.99 for 500GB of data, while the other two plans are unlimited. They cost $99.99 or $109.99 depending on your included call preferences
As you can see, TPG offers plans on speed tiers 1, 2 and 4. Unlimited plans are differentiated by varying call charges and inclusions. For example, the cheapest option of the three charges calls at pay as you go (PAYG) rates, while the more expensive options offer unlimited call allowances, and in the case of the most expensive plan, unlimited international calls to several countries.
Standard, Boost and Superfast plans are available with no lock-in contract, or as an 18 month deal. The difference is that if you want the flexibility of leaving any time you like, you’ll need to pay a $99.95 set-up fee.
- Rated five stars on value for money and network performance by TPG customers
- Good choice of easy to understand plans differentiated by NBN speeds, data allowance and then local and international call inclusions
- No contract options provide flexibility, but at a price
This is how TPG’s top-end unlimited NBN plans line up:
Next up is iiNet, which was taken over by the TPG Telcom group in late 2015, but maintains its own identity and broadband plans. It has a solid reputation for good customer service, but iiNet is about more than just friendly voices when you pick up the phone, as its NBN packages will attest. Let’s break iiNet’s plans into two categories – those on NBN speed tiers 1 and 2, and those at the highest tier 4 level. There are a total of seven plans and each includes iiNet’s Netphone (VoIP) service.
- There are four plan options at speed tiers 1 and 2, opening up with a 250GB deal for $59.90 per month, which comes with a maximum download speed of 12Mbps
- However, for $10 more ($69.99) you can upgrade your data allowance to unlimited, still at tier 1 speed
- The other two plans come at tier 2 speeds (up to 25Mbps) and also bring unlimited data – this is a step change for iiNet which previously capped data inclusions at 1000GBs. These plans cost $79.99 and $89.99 respectively
The cheapest tier 4 100Mbps plan is priced at $99.99, and includes unlimited data. After that you could pay $109.99 or $119.99 depending on your call packs preferences.
These iiNet plans are available with no lock-in contract, or over 24 months. However, the former will mean you need to pay a $79.95 activation fee
- Rated five stars on service and bill clarity by iiNet customers
- Good choice of plans for heavy data users
- All plans come with iiNet’s Netphone (VoIP) service. You can also add the international VoIP pack for an extra $10 per month
This is how iiNet’s top-end NBN plans line up:
Optus recently revamped its broadband plans, with a more streamlined approach allowing customers to more easily navigate their options and choose a bundle that’s right for them – and the headline is that all NBN offerings now come with unlimited data. The change means Optus now offers three different NBN bundled options, all with the potential to upgrade speed levels for an additional cost.
Optus’ NBN plans start with the Everyday bundle, which features:
- A basic download speed of 12Mbps, costing $60 per month
- For $20 more ($80) you can upgrade to 25Mbps
- Subsequent speed boosts are about an extra $20 a month
- You will get a home phone line but with pay as you go calls, with home phone packs available from $5 extra a month
The second NBN bundle from Optus is the My Entertainment plan which includes:
- Yes TV by Fetch with a Connect Pack (through which you can access both Netflix and Stan, but you’ll need to subscribe to those services). This plan starts at $80 per month with a maximum download speed of 25Mbps
- All My Entertainment plans include Optus Sport, which contains English Premier League, of which Optus bought the rights to
- PAYG calls with call packs available from $5 a month
All of these plans are available on 24 month contracts, or month to month, but the flexible options attract a $200 upfront fee. Soccer fans can also enjoy a subscription to Optus’ coverage of the English Premier League at no extra charge (conditions may apply).
Just Broadband (Naked)
If you’re not interested in any call time, Optus also offers a single basic NBN alternative. This is identical to the Everyday plan but without the home phone line.
- It costs $80 per month for the basic 12Mbps NBN connection speed
- Or you can upgrade speeds from an extra $20 a month
- Rated four stars on value for money by Optus customers
- Plans allow flexibility of upgrading or downgrading NBN speeds if desired
- Most Optus plans include subscription to English Premier League football at no extra charge
Here is a flavour of Optus NBN plans for your consideration:
Telstra boasts a simple mix of NBN bundles to pick from, based on varying data allowances. The first step is to decide how much data you think you’ll need, and then you can start to consider extras such as Telstra TV (which gives you access to Netflix and Stan) and Foxtel. Telstra also gives customers the option to keep it simple with two only-online NBN plans that simply delivers ultra-fast speeds.
- Telstra’s three NBN bundled plans all come with a maximum download speed of 25Mbps in their most basic form, unless you purchase a speed boost.
- An extra $20 per month takes you up to ‘Very Fast’ 50Mbps download speeds
- An extra $30 gets you hooked up to Superfast 100Mbps internet – the maximum speeds possible
- Telstra bundles start at $90 per month for 500GB of data on the Medium bundle, rising to $120 for 1000GB and finally $140 for 1500GB (which is unlimited in most people’s books)
- As per the above download speed tiers, 50Mbps speeds will cost you a minimum $110 instead, and so on
Besides their varying data allowances, these three plans are also separated by different call inclusions – the more you pay, the more you get. The two most expensive bundles come with Telstra TV and three new release rentals from BigPond movies. It’s worth noting that while these plans are all on 24 month contracts, they cost the same if you decide to go month to month instead. However, you do not get the entertainment add-ons.
Broadband Only (Naked)
If getting your head around Telstra’s bundled NBN plans is a bit much, the good news is you can pick from two simple NBN-only options instead – a Medium or Large plan.
- These are priced at $80 per month for 500GB of data or $95 for 1000GB
- Phone calls on each plan are charged at PAYG rates
- These are 24 month contracts, but if you want to go monthly, a third option is added and the costs change slightly
When you’re thinking about signing up to a Telstra NBN plan, look carefully at the potential start-up costs. Telstra says an additional fee of $240 may apply if you require a professional installation. And if you’re in a new development and not already connected to the NBN, a $300 NBN Co New Development Charge may also apply.
- Rated four stars on network performance by Telstra customers
- Impressive entertainment options available (Telstra TV, Foxtel)
- Condition of 24 month contract for best value bundled plans
- There are no unlimited data or tier 4 plans – you’ll get a maximum of 1000GB and tier 2 instead
Here is a selection of Telstra NBN plans for your consideration:
Dodo has a reputation for providing cheap and cheerful home broadband, and its NBN plans are no exception. Dodo offers three levels of NBN packages based on either 10GB, 50GB or unlimited data, and once you decide how much you need, you can modify your plan according to how fast you want it and whether or not you want any additional call inclusions.
- Dodo’s cheapest NBN plan could cost you as little as $29.90 per month, however this comes with the basic download speed of 12Mbps
- If you want your internet faster, then you can upgrade the 10GB plan to speeds of 25Mbps or 100Mbps, costing you an extra $15 or $35 per month respectively
- A tier 1, unlimited data NBN connection costs $64.90 per month
- Upgrading this plan to tier 2 will once again cost you an additional $10 or $35. You then get the same choice of call options as the 10GB and 50GB deals
Once you’ve decided on your speed and data needs, you can then consider including one of three different call packs. Unlimited local calls will cost you an extra $10 a month, for example. No matter what your preferred mix of data and speed, each Dodo NBN plan is available on 24 month, 12 month or no lock-in contract terms. The monthly option will mean you need to pay a $99 connection fee, while the year-long agreement will see you charged $69 up-front instead.
- Some of the cheapest basic NBN plans on offer
- Great mix of plans that are easily tailored to your data and speed requirements
- Good balance of additional call extras for reasonable prices
Here is a selection of cheap and top-end Dodo NBN plans:
Another telco that starts its NBN offerings out at a very cheap base, iPrimus breaks its plans into three categories based on speed tiers 1, 2 and 4, named Light, Home and Intense. Once you’ve decided what super-fast speed you would like, you can then pick a plan based on its data allowance.
- A $44.90 per month starting price on Tier 1 brings a modest 30GB of data, plus local and national calls, and calls to Australian mobiles charged at 33c per minute
- If you need a bit more data, you can upgrade your plan to 300GB costing $59.90
- The Unlimited plan costs $69.90
- Expect to pay an extra $10 a month for Tier 2 speeds, and another $20 on top of that for Tier 4 speeds
With regards to set-up fees, you won’t pay a cent if you sign up to a 24 month plan, but you will be charged $99 up-front on a 12 month deal and $129 if you want the benefit of a no lock-in contract. If you need a modem, you’ll also be slugged with a fee of either $129 or $159, and may also be charged $14.95 for postage.
- Cheap NBN plans, based first on speed tier and then data allowance
- Good value options for those craving Tier 5 NBN speeds
- Be aware of potentially significant start-up costs
This is how iPrimus’ unlimited data NBN plans line up:
Other NBN providers
In this report we have reviewed the NBN plans of six major service providers, but it’s important to know that there are numerous other telcos out there all desperate to get you connected. You can learn about another 20 of them in our article named: The best NBN providers you’ve never heard of. Who knows, you might even find much better value!
The NBN is still being rolled out across the nation, and as such it’s still in its infancy. Like with any new technology, prices are still quite high and plans are generally more expensive than regular ADSL2+ plans. Quite often you are going to struggle to pay under $90 a month for unlimited data on tier 4, and many tier 1 plans are expensive for the amount of data you get, coupled with the relatively modest speeds afforded to you. However, the bonus is that costs should decrease and level out over time as the whole nation is hopefully covered by some form of NBN. When it comes to your suburb, you have many, many options to navigate.