The best NBN providers you’ve never heard of

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 this in mind, we’ve taken a close look at some of the best NBN providers you’ve probably never heard of, to see what deals they have on offer. There are some weird and wonderful names, but beneath those names lies some good-value NBN plans.

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UPDATE: December 2016

Activ8me

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 prices starting at $39.95 a month for 50GB on NBN Tier 1. Unlimited data on NBN Tier 1 comes in at $59.95 a month.

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. For example, 50GB on Tier 2 will cost $49.95 a month. But for the same monthly price on Tier 1, you can get 250GB, so you’ll have to see whether that extra speed boost is worth it, while compromising your data allowances.

The mac daddy offer – the unlimited Tier 5 NBN plan – costs $89.95 per month and is called the ‘Hypersonic’ plan. All Activ8me 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.

AusBBS

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.

Australia Broadband 

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 $59.95 per month for Tier 1 NBN download speeds and increase up to $99.95 if you crave the fastest Tier 5 speed going. 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.

Barefoot Telecom

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. Its name ‘Barefoot’ is describable of its no-fuss NBN plans.

Belong Broadband

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 is $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 bank has expanded into telco recently, with mobile phone plans too. 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 (Tier 4), while the most costly $99.95 deal brings the same amount of data but at 100Mbps speeds (Tier 5). All of Bendigo’s plans are on 24 month contracts, and come with a modem included in the cost.

Boom Broadband

A dedicated NBN provider, Boom Broadband makes it plans easy to understand as you first choose your preferred speed level 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 the cheapest unlimited data plan 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.

Exetel

Exetel has some of the cheapest NBN plans out there. You can get yourself connected to the NBN with Exetel from as little as $39.99 per month, provided 100GB of data at 12Mbps downloads is all you need or want. For the same Tier 1 speed you can upgrade to either 500GB or unlimited data, taking your monthly bill to $49.99 or $54.99 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 $69.99 per month for 100GB of data, $79.99 for 500GB and $89.99 for unlimited.

Harbour ISP

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. Harbour ISP also has a range of wireless NBN plans on offer, so keep your eyes peeled for those as they become more popular and NBN’s ‘SkyMuster’ satellite is fully launched in February 2017. Here’s a snapshot of their fibre NBN plans:

Infinity NBN

The modestly-named Infinity Broadband offers an easy mix and match option for its NBN plans. Ironically, not all of its plans are ‘infinite’. 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 per month for 30GB of data at Tier 1 speeds, 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.

Inspired Broadband

You can decide for yourself if this NBN provider is really inspired or not. It might inspire you, who knows. Inspired offers three unlimited data NBN packages based on speed Tiers 1, 2 and 4, with prices at $58, $68 and $88 per month respectively. 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 biggest benefit is these plans are all unlimited – no messing about with data caps or confusing plan configurations.

MATE Communicate

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 either, 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. If you’re tired of waiting for a mate to call you back, perhaps use your NBN connection to contact them online. Here’s a snapshot of the different speed and price configurations on offer:

MyNetFone

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.

MyRepublic

MyRepublic is a relatively new addition to Australia, originating out of South East Asia. Its broadband plans are easy to follow, all come with unlimited data, and only deal in the maximum Tier 5 NBN download speeds. As it stands, MyRepublic provides the cheapest combination of unlimited NBN data and Tier 5 speeds. The only differences in the plan configurations are if you want a VOIP phone plan included, or if you opt for either a contract or monthly plan.

SpinTel

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’ll 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 – 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.

Start Broadband

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.

Tangerine Telecom

One of the newest players in the NBN market, Tangerine Telecom is all about unlimited data and your speed tier of choice – prices at $59 per month (Tier 1), $68 (Tier 2) and $87 (Tier 4). Tangerine offers its plans either on a 12 month contract or without a contract.

While you pay a set-up fee with no contract, you don’t have to pay extra for a modem. As it stands, there’s little cost benefit to opting to stick with Tangerine long-term. It actually works out cheaper going for the no-contract deal, which means great news for renters.

Tellnet

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 download speeds. There are no Tier 5 plans. Tellnet’s NBN 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. 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.

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.

Without a doubt though, MyRepublic stands out as being the cocky upstart and offers some of the cheapest Tier 5 unlimited broadband plans in Australia. All of the providers mentioned above offer at least fairly good value and each have their own selling points. It’s worth comparing a range of different providers to see what plan is right for you.

NBN providers rated by customers

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