Review of Australia’s cheapest NBN plans

Do you want the fastest internet speed around, but don’t want to pay top dollar for it? No problem! Canstar Blue has compiled a comparison of the cheapest NBN plans on offer.

Now, the first thing to make clear is that super-fast NBN speeds usually come with a hefty amount of data – unlimited in many cases – and this will be reflected by the price you pay. However, if you really do your homework, and don’t think you’ll need uncapped data, you’ll be able to find some great-value NBN plans that strike a good balance between speed and data allowance. And fortunately for you, we’ve done the hard work for you.

Before we go into detail, it’s important to understand the difference between the five NBN speed tiers available because they are directly linked to price.

  • Tier 1: 12 Mbps download, 1 Mbps upload
  • Tier 2: 25 Mbps download, 5 Mbps upload
  • Tier 3: 25 Mbps download, 10 Mbps upload. (This tier is usually reserved for businesses)
  • Tier 4: 50 Mbps download, 20 Mbps upload
  • Tier 5: 100 Mbps download, 40 Mbps upload

As you’ll find, many NBN plans offered by the big service providers will give you the option of upgrading your speed tier for an extra monthly cost. So let’s take a look at the cheapest NBN plans on offer.

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What NBN plans are the cheapest?

As mentioned, there are four main NBN speed tiers to choose from for residential customers, all at different price points of course. Let’s dive in and see what each tier can offer you, including the cheapest unlimited data plans around:

Cheapest NBN Tier 1 Plans

NBN Tier 1 speeds may not be a great deal faster than what you’re used to with an ADSL2+ connection, but they should certainly meet the basic internet needs of most households, and you’ll easily be able to bag a bargain. If you’re now chained to an NBN reality, these plans can deliver good prices for those not really fussed about doing much more than some light browsing. While you likely won’t be able to stream Super HD Netflix without any hiccups, this tier should take on most ‘day to day’ duties capably.

Nowadays, there are a few Tier 1 service providers offering plans for under $50 per month – merely a year ago you would have been struggling to find such cheap offers. For the most basic, entry-level NBN plans, expect to pay around $30-$40, but you won’t get much data for your pennies. Expect data to be no more than 100GB. Also, it appears that investing even just $10 more a month will see a huge boost in data. Expect the cheapest plans to come from the likes of Dodo, SpinTel, Activ8me and Exetel. These are the cheapest deals you’re likely to find, but if you want stacks more data with your faster internet speed then you’ll need to spend upwards of $50. However, if you’re willing to spend this much then you might as well look at jumping into Tier 2. Here are the cheapest Tier 1 plans for your consideration:

Cheapest NBN Tier 2 Plans

As we mentioned earlier, most NBN plans can be upgraded to a higher speed tier for an extra monthly cost. Again, the likes of Dodo, Activ8me and Exetel are the frontrunners for having the cheapest plans. iPrimus also shows its face, albeit with a relatively low data amount. Overall, expect to pay at least $40, with plans quickly creeping up over $50. At 25 Mpbs download speeds, you should be able to stream HD Netflix and download movies quite quickly, however don’t expect stellar speeds, and peak times could see some frustrating congestion.

If you’re hungry for more data, the cheapest unlimited plans in this tier tend to cost more than $60, with many over the $70 range. Here, expect providers like Tangerine Telecom, Barefoot Broadband and Mate Communicate to bring the cheapest packages. Again, generally the cheapest plans in this tier tend to offer paltry amounts of data, though Exetel does stand out for offering a little more for your money.

Cheapest NBN Tier 4 Plans

As far as tiers go, stepping up into a Tier 4 plan will see your internet speeds start to get to a level where you might say “Okay, this is fast”. When it comes to Tier 4 plans, the cheapest deals start at around the $60 mark, but of course these plans will come with a very modest amount of data. Expect familiar faces such as AusBBS, Activ8me and SpinTel to make an appearance, albeit with plans under 50GB. However, Internode also comes to the game offering increased data and arguably better value.

For unlimited data at Tier 4 speeds, expect to pay over $80 per month. However, SpinTel does offer a near-unlimited 1000GB plan for just over $70. Overall, expect to get a significant boost in speeds, but you’ll also be shelling out a lot more pennies for the privilege.

Cheapest NBN Tier 5 Plans

This is where you’ll find the best-of-the-best speeds and the ones that gained a lot of hype in the media when the NBN first came to fruition. 100 Mbps is a speed mostly unprecedented in Australia up until now. You’ll be able to download movies in a snap, Netflix is easy-peasy and things like video calling across the globe just got a whole lot easier with these types of speeds.

Surprisingly, Tier 5 also seems to be where the value lies. This is due to new provider MyRepublic offering unlimited data for less than $60, which is simply outstanding. All other providers struggle to offer 100GB for $60, let alone unlimited data. Apart from MyRepublic, other unlimited plan providers are around $90 a month and quickly rise after that.

Is a cheap NBN plan worth the money?

The NBN is a great and vital concept – who doesn’t want faster internet speeds? However, to get these speeds you’ll have to be willing to spend over $60 a month, or thereabouts. Quite frankly, anything less than a Tier 4 plan isn’t particularly ‘good value’, especially considering the speeds you can get through other deliveries like cable broadband and ADSL2+. Take a quick look at the pros and cons to see if a cheap NBN plan is right for you.

Pros Cons
NBN subscription can be had for as little as $30 a month You’ll be paying more for any appreciable amounts of data
Tier 1 is the cheapest and adequate for light users Heavier uses may feel disgruntled about having to pay more for better speeds
Lots of providers to choose from Lots of providers also charge hefty setup fees
Light users can get away with the cheapest plans Heavier users will likely be letdown with the amount of data on offer with the cheaper plans
Top-speed plans can be had from around $60 Unlimited plans are easily $90+ a month

If you’re in an area already with NBN rolled out, then unfortunately you don’t have much choice but to go on an NBN plan, and either go for the cheapest you can get away with – about $30 – and put up with slower speeds, or choose a faster plan but pay significantly more for the privilege and the increased data you’ll find to be using from the faster speeds. Overall, to get the NBN speeds promised, you’ll need to be willing to pay $80 or more for a Tier 5 plan, and for any sizeable amount of data you’ll need to be willing to pay $90 a month at least. For some this is simply outrageous, and for others it’s worth the money to be one of the early adopters of a technology that promises the world.

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