Are you trying to figure out which internet plan best suits your data needs? Canstar Blue has compiled a comparison of the biggest National Broadband Network (NBN) providers and their plans, from the cheapest with the most basic speeds, to unlimited deals with lightning-fast downloads. If you’re in a rush, check out our key takeouts from each provider and you’ll be better informed about your broadband options.
Before we go into details about the NBN providers we’ve compared, it’s important to understand the difference between the data 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 five different speed tiers, with the prices of plans reflecting this. The NBN providers often don’t declare which of the five NBN speed tiers their plans will give you, but you can easily work it out by checking the specific details of the plan. Broadband download and upload speeds are measured in megabits per second (Mbps), referring to the data transfer rate. The five NBN speed tiers are as follows:
- Tier 1: 12Mbps download, 1 Mbps upload
- Tier 2: 25Mbps download, 5 Mbps upload
- Tier 3: 25Mbps download, 10 Mbps upload
- Tier 4: 50Mbps download, 20 Mbps upload
- Tier 5: 100Mbps download, 40 Mbps upload
The higher the speed tier, the faster your internet will be and the more you are likely to pay. If you’re not sure which speed tier a particular plan brings, check the quoted Mbps download speed. Now, let’s assess what some of the biggest NBN providers are offering.
UPDATE: OCTOBER 2016
We arrive at TPG first because the telco currently tops our customer satisfaction ratings for NBN 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.
TPG Standard plans come with a maximum download speed of 12Mbps (Tier 1). The cheapest deal, which comes with just 50GB of data, will cost you $49.99 per month. This is a fairly modest amount for most families, so you may want to look at the three other Standard options which all come with unlimited data. These plans, costing $59.99, $69.99 and $79.99 per month respectively, 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.
TPG Boost plans come with a maximum download speed of 25Mbps (Tier 2) and 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. The other two Boost plans, priced at $79.99 and $89.99 per month, distinguish themselves similarly to the Standard plans with varying call allowances. This means you’ll get unlimited call time, rather than PAYG rates, and in the case of the most costly plan, you’ll also get the unlimited international inclusions.
TPG’s Superfast plans are for serious internet users, bringing a maximum download speed of 100Mbps (Tier 5). To reflect the superior speeds, these plans cost $89.99, $99.99 and $109.99 per month respectively, with the first offering 500GB of data and the others unlimited. Once again, you can decide which might be best for you based on their local and international call inclusions.
Each Standard, Boost or Superfast plan is 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 and then local and international call inclusions.
- Strong unlimited data packages, particularly for higher speed tier plans.
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 5 level. There are a total of seven plans and each includes iiNet’s Netphone (VoIP) service.
Tier 1 and 2 plans
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 (Tier 1). However, for $10 more 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 two plans, priced at $79.99 and $89.99 per month, are differentiated by their call packages, with the former bringing local and standard national calls, while the latter also brings Australian mobile calls.
Tier 5 plans
At this stage iiNet’s plans start to get really serious, with three further options continuing the theme of unlimited data – this time with a maximum download speed of 100Mbps (Tier 5). The first, priced at $99.99 per month, is a basic package without the bonus call inclusions, while the $109.99 plan adds in local and standard national calls. And the biggest plan of the bunch, iiNet’s $119.99 offering, also throws Australian mobile calls into the bargain.
Each of these seven iiNet plans is 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.
Optus recently revamped its NBN 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 My Basics bundle, which comes with a basic maximum download speed of 12Mbps (Tier 1) and costs $80 per month. For $10 more you can upgrade to 25Mbps (Tier 2), while an extra $20 gets you up to 50Mbps (Tier 4) and $30 brings up the ultimate NBN speed of 100Mbps (Tier 5). Aside from speedy broadband, this plan also provides unlimited standard local calls to landlines.
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 $110 per month with a maximum download speed of 25Mbps (Tier 2), but you can also upgrade for an extra $10 per speed tier. This deal also brings more call inclusions, with unlimited standard national calls and unlimited national calls to mobiles thrown into the mix.
My Entertainment Plus
Then there is the My Entertainment Plus plan from Optus which also comes with Yes TV by Fetch, but this time with an added Entertainment Pack (more than 30 channels). This plan is only available with the maximum NBN speed of 100Mbps (Tier 5) and includes unlimited international calls to selected counties on top of the call inclusions of the other plans. All this can be yours for $140 per month.
All three of these plans are available on 24-month contracts. Only the My Basics plan is available as a month-to-month option if you sign-up online, but you will also need to pay $200 up-front. Soccer fans can also enjoy a subscription to Optus’ coverage of English Premier League at no extra charge (conditions may apply).
If you’re not interested in any call time, Optus also offers a single basic NBN alternative called My Broadband. This is identical to the My Basics plan but without the unlimited local calls. It costs $80 per month for the basic 12Mbps (Tier 1) NBN connection speed, or you can upgrade right up to Tier 5 – at which point you’d be paying $110. This offer is only available as a 24-month contract.
- 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.
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, Stan and Presto) 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 (Tier 2) in their most basic form, unless you purchase a speed boost. An extra $10 per month takes you up to 50Mbps (Tier 4) download speeds, or an extra $15 gets you hooked up to 100Mbps (Tier 5) internet. The three bundles comes in Small, Medium or Large form, with Telstra pointing potential customers to its Medium offer as the most highly ‘recommended’ of the bunch.
The Telstra bundles start at $70 per month for 100GB of data, rising to $90 for 500GB and $120 for 1000GB (unlimited in most people’s books). As we mentioned, upgrading any of these plans to faster speeds will cost extra, meaning that for the cheapest of the three ($70), Tier 5 NBN speeds will cost you $85 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 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.
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. These are priced at $75 per month for 100GB 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.
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 (Tier 1). If you want your internet faster, then you can upgrade the 10GB plan to speeds of 25Mbps (Tier 2) or 100Mbps (Tier 5), costing you an extra $15 or $35 per month respectively. Once you’ve decided on speed, you can then consider including one of three different call packs. Unlimited local calls with cost you can extra $10.
Dodo’s mid-range package starts at $44.90 per month for a Tier 1 speed connection. Once again you can upgrade this to faster levels for an additional $10 or $35, and do likewise with the optional call extras. These include an unlimited call pack for local, national and Australian mobile calls, plus an international landline pack, and international landline and mobile pack.
If it’s unlimited data you crave, then Dodo is offering a Tier 1 speed NBN connection for $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.
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 month-to-month 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.
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 5, 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.
If a maximum download speed of 12Mbps (Tier 1) will meet your home internet needs, then iPrimus can set you up with a $39.90 per month deal that brings a modest 10GB 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 50GB or unlimited, costing $49.90 and $69.90 respectively.
The iPrimus Home plan range sees the maximum download speed increased to 25Mbps (Tier 2), and once again you can select a plan that brings either 10GB, 50GB or unlimited data. Call inclusions remain the same, but the faster speed is reflected in the prices of $49.90, $59.90 and $79.90.
The aptly-named Intense NBN plans from iPrimus are for the heavy internet hitters, with a maximum download speed of 100Mbps (Tier 5). Call inclusions again remain unchanged, but this time you’ll pay either $69.90 for 10GB of data, $79.90 for 50GB, or $109.90 for unlimited data at unrivalled speed.
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.
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 19 of them in our article named: The best NBN providers you’ve never heard of.