Australia’s home broadband market is currently dominated by four major service providers – Telstra, Optus, TPG/iiNet and Vocus Communications (Dodo/iPrimus). However, the advent of the Government-funded National Broadband Network (NBN) means many smaller telcos can now also offer competitive internet plans that rival those of the big guys.
Thanks to the NBN’s combination of a single widespread, high-speed network and affordable wholesale prices, smaller operators no longer need to piggyback on infrastructure belonging to a few big companies.
Dozens of smaller internet service providers (ISPs) have sprung up in the last few years to take advantage of the NBN, and many offer plans which provide similar or even better value compared to the major players. With that in mind, we’ve taken a closer look at some of the best NBN providers you’ve probably never heard of, to see what deals they have on offer. Their are some weird and wonderful names, it’s almost like choosing a runner in the Melbourne Cup!
UPDATE: October 2016
Activ8me provides a combination of fibre-optic NBN plans based first on how much data you’d like, and then the speed at which you’d like to enjoy it. To start with you must decide whether 50GB, 250GB, 500GB or 1,100GB of data is right for you, with basic prices at $39.95, $49.95, $59.95 and $69.95 respectively.
That’s all you’ll pay if you want basic Tier 1 broadband, but you can upgrade to the faster speeds for an additional $10, $20 or $30 per month, meaning Tier 5 NBN with 1,100GB would cost you a total of $99.95 per month. All plan options are available over 12 months or a no lock-in contract basis. Set-up fees and router costs vary depending on which term you go with.
Another provider that offers easy to understand plans is AusBBS, although with this telco you’ll first need to decide what NBN level you would like, and then select your data allowance. Once you’ve picked between 12, 25, 50 or 100Mbps downloads, you can then select from a range of data packs, including a pay as you go (PAYG) option.
Prices start from just $34.95 per month for the Tier 1 PAYG plan and rise to $79.95 for Tier 5 PAYG deal. The PAYG monthly fees include the first 10GB then charges of 85c per GB thereafter. If you want unlimited data, prices range from $54.85 to $175. Activation costs vary depending on your contract term. You can also bundle these NBN plans with the NBN Phone at extra costs.
It’s worth keeping an eye on AusBBS which is set to be acquired by mobile service provider Amaysim, which is keen to get in on the NBN action.
Next up is the imaginatively named Australia Broadband, which only deals in unlimited broadband on month to month terms, or 12 month contracts. Prices start from $54.95 per month for Tier NBN speeds and increase up to $99.95 if you crave the fastest Tier 5 speed. Agreeing to a year-long plan will save you a few bucks, but you’ll face set-up fees regardless. Here are the top end plans.
Self-described as “not your average telco”, Barefoot Telecom has four easy NBN plan options to choose from – all with unlimited data. Named Lite, Mid, Max and Ultra, the prices of $59, $69, $89 and $99 reflect the increasing speeds of these plans, from 12Mbps (Tier 1) up to 100Mbps (Tier 5). Barefoot’s description of itself is probably justified, given all of its plans come with no lock-in contract and no start-up or activation fees if you bring your own modem; if you do want a modem, it will cost you a reasonable $99.
Belong Broadband gives customers the choice of monthly or 12 month contracts, with the latter coming at a discounted rate. Its plans bring up 100GB or unlimited data, with Tier 1 speeds starting at $50 per month on a contract, or $55 if you go monthly. For unlimited data at Tier 1 level it’s $65 or $70. You can then upgrade all of Belong’s plans to Tier 2 or Tier 5 speeds for an extra $10 or $30 respectively.
Bendigo Bank Telco
As the name suggests, Bendigo Bank Telco is a division of Bendigo Bank which offers a simple mix of NBN plans. The most basic NBN 12 Basics plan comes in at $59.95 per month, for which you’ll get 12Mbps downloads and unlimited data, while the 25Mbps plan also comes with unlimited data but a higher price tag of $79.95.
For $89.95 you’ll get 50Mbps downloads and unlimited data, while the most costly $99.95 deal brings the same amount of data but at 100Mbps speeds. All of Bendigo’s plans are on 24 month contracts, and come with a modem included in the cost.
A dedicated NBN provider, Boom Broadband makes it plans easy to understand as you first choose your preferred speed and then your data allowance. Prices start at $45 per month for Tier 1 speed and 50GB of data, or you can bump up to unlimited data for $65.
At Tier 2 speed you’ll get the same two data options, making the prices $55 or $75. And for Tier 5 downloads you’ll pay either $75 or $95 for 50GB or unlimited data. If you are happy with a 24 month plan then that’s all you’ll pay, but start-up fees of $50 or $100 apply if you want a 12 month deal or no lock-in contract.
You can get yourself connected to the NBN with Exetel from as little as $39 per month, provided 100GB of data at 12Mbps downloads is all you need. For the same Tier 1 speed you can upgrade to either 500GB or unlimited data, taking your monthly bill to $49 or $59 respectively. Exetel also offers Tier 2 and 5 plan options, with prices again determined by your data allowance. For the fastest speeds you will pay $69 per month for 100GB of data, $79 for 500GB and $89 for unlimited.
Harbour ISP allows customers to pick their favoured NBN speed with their required amount of data, plus the option of a home phone or home phone and mobile bundle. Prices start from $49 per month for Tier 1 speed, and $59 for Tier 2, with an additional $10 bumping the data allowance up from 250GB to unlimited for those first two plans.
Tier 4 NBN can be yours for $79 and Tier 5 for $89, with an extra $10 boosting your data from 500GB to 1000GB. You don’t need to add any call inclusions, but if you want to they come for a further $10 or $20.
The modestly-named Infinity Broadband offers an easy mix and match option for its NBN plans. First you decide on your preferred tier of download speeds, and then you decide how much data you’re likely to chew through over a month.
Starting at $44.95 for 30GB at Tier 1, prices rise steadily as you increase the amount of data to 100GB, 200GB or 1200GB. The greatest data allowance at Tier 2 will cost $79.95, Tier 4 $89.95, and Tier 5 $99.95.
You can decide for yourself if this NBN provider is really inspired or not. It offers three unlimited data NBN packages based on speed Tiers 1, 2 and 4, with prices at $58, $68 and $88. There will be no connection fee over 12 months, but if you want these plans month to month it will be $99 upfront. A premium router will cost you more if you want it, plus you can add phone call packs up to $25 per month.
The telco that wants to be “best mates” with its customers, MATE Communicate is all about unlimited data at differing price points. For $59 per month you can get your unlimited data at 12Mbps, for $69 the speed increases to 25Mbps, while $89 brings up the 50Mbps mark, and $99 results in the fastest of them all, 100Mbps downloads.
These plans all come with no lock-in contracts “between mates” and no activation fee, although you might need to pay $99 for a modem. MATE Communicate also offers additional unlimited call inclusions with each plan for an extra $9 per month.
MyNetFone is one of Australia’s leading voice and data communications services, and owns one of the country’s largest VoIP networks. It also boasts three simple NBN plans, priced at $49.99 per month for 200GB of data and PAYG rate home phone calls, $59.99 for unlimited data and PAYG calls, and $69.99 for unlimited data and unlimited calls.
These Tier 1 speed plans are all available on no lock-in contract terms, and you can upgrade to fastest NBN for an extra $10 for Tier 2 or $30 for to go all the way up to Tier 5 – taking the maximum amount to $99.99.
Start Broadband provides a super-easy range of NBN bundles to choose from based on whether you want 50GB or unlimited data. For Tier 1 speeds, prices start at $65 and $75 per month respectively. If you want to go faster, prices jump $10 for each speed tier you move up, meaning Tier 5 plans cost $95 and $105 per month respectively.
Your broadband can also be bundled with an unlimited call pack or international pack at an extra cost. Plans are available on six month terms or over 24 months – the former costing you $99.95 for set-up.
Already a big player in the mobile space, SpinTel also offers a suite of NBN plans which include PAYG or unlimited call options. As you would expect, the faster you want your internet speeds, the more you will need to pay, with SpinTel adding an extra $10, $20 or $30 as you upgrade. Data comes in 40GB, 500GB or unlimited quotas for Tier 1 and 2 plans, with the cheapest combination costing $39.95 per month. However, the data is capped at 1,000GB for Tier 4 and 5 plans, meaning the maximum cost before any call add-ons is $84.95.
The most you will pay for call inclusions is $20 – and that’s for unlimited local, national and mobile calls. SpinTel gives you the option of no lock-in contract, but with start-up costs of $149, a 12 month plan with charges of $99, or a 24 month contract with nothing upfront.
One of the newest players in the NBN market, Tangerine Telecom is all about unlimited data and your speed tier of choice – prices at $69 per month (Tier 1), $78 (Tier 2) and $97 (Tier 4). These deals include unlimited local and national calls, but if you just want the broadband, you can chop $10 off each plan.
Over a 12 month contact you will dodge the ‘set-up’ fee, but still need to pay an extra $10 each month for your modem. On no-contact terms, you get your modem at the one-off cost of $99, so it actually works out cheaper going for the monthly deal.
Tellnet provides three unlimited data NBN options to pick from, ranging in price from $59, $79 and $99 accordingly, for Tier 1, 2 or 4 speeds. Tellnet plans are available on 12 month contracts or monthly – the difference is that the flexible approach means you’ll need to pay a $99 connection fee.
Which NBN provider is best?
To cut a long story short, this review of NBN providers gives you a good idea about the value on offer if you’re willing to look past the big telcos, and there certainly are some amazing deals around. MATE Communicate, Belong Broadband, AusBBS and SpinTel all offer some of the cheapest unlimited plans at Tier 1 speed, while the likes of Exetel, MyNetFone and Activ8me are strong propositions at the higher speed levels.
This is not to say the biggest service providers don’t have great NBN deals as well, because they do, but it’s certainly worth considering all of your options before deciding where to spend your money.