How do the NBN speed tiers work?

The NBN, or national broadband network, is an upgrade to Australia’s existing telecommunications infrastructure, replacing the existing copper wire and hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) networks with much faster fibre optic cable technology.

The NBN is a long overdue overhaul to Australia’s existing internet infrastructure, as the NBN will allow internet speeds of up to 100 Megabits per second, which is 4 times faster than the current fastest ADSL2+ broadband currently on offer in Australia. Along with higher speeds, the NBN also has the following advantages:

  • It is less prone to weather conditions than broadband networks, such as rain and hail
  • It can handle more devices on the same network at any given time
  • It will allow Australians to keep up with the increased need for downloads in the digital world, be it in the workplace, your home or place of study
  • It will also allow Australians to stream high-quality online content with increased ease

NBN speed tiers

When you’re choosing an NBN plan, it’s not just about the cost of the plan or how much data you’re going to need. You need to consider how fast you want it.

The National Broadband Network is delivered in 5 speed tiers, with download speeds ranging from 12Mbps to 100Mbps. The increased speed comes at a cost, which is why we will explain what each of the five tiers can do for you, to help you make the most informed decision for your home or business.

Please note: You should enjoy most of the advertised speeds; however, there are factors that come into play which can potentially slow things down for you. These include:

  • The distance from your home to the telco exchange
  • The quality of your hardware (i.e. modern/router)
  • Any time of day download restrictions imposed by your service provider

NBN Tier 1

Suitable for: Standard residential use

Not too dissimilar to the speed you’ll experience with an ADSL2+ connection, Tier 1 speed is okay for everyday residential use. It’s best for households who need the internet for basic online tasks such as image uploading to social network sites (e.g. Facebook). At 12Mbps download speeds, this kind of connection probably wouldn’t be suitable for small businesses. You should also be wary that the speeds of tier 1 connections can drop below the 12Mbps threshold dependent on the three factors listed above.

Cost: For unlimited data at Tier 1 speed, you’ll need to spend between $50 and $65 per month.

NBN Tier 2

Suitable for: Moderate to heavy residential use

With a maximum download speed of 25Mbps, Tier 2 NBN plans are ideal for streaming videos or online movies. An average iTunes movie download is about 1.5GB, so the time it would take to download the entire file on a Tier 2 connection would be about 8-10 minutes. So if you and your family are heavy consumers of video content, then you might want to consider a tier 2 connection if you haven’t already.

Cost: For unlimited data at Tier 2 speed, prices range from $69 to $80 per month.

Tier 3

Suitable for: Small businesses

This NBN speed tier is aimed at business rather than residential users, so you’re unlikely to see any plans claiming to offer a Tier 3 quality connection. The upload rate for this tier is around 5-10Mbps, which tends to be the more important factor for business users, rather than residential users. The business would need to be quite small though, because if too many users are sharing the bandwidth, the data will quickly bottleneck.

Cost: A tier 3 connection will likely set you back a similar amount to tier 2 connections; about $69-$80 per month.

Tier 4

Suitable for: Heavy home users

With a maximum download speed of 50Mbps, Tier 4 NBN plans should make most internet applications seem instantaneous. This speed will be ideal for online gaming and steaming videos, as latency issues will be almost non-existent.

Cost: For unlimited data at super-quick Tier 4 broadband speeds, you’ll need to spend between $89 and $100 per month.

Tier 5

Suitable for: Small to medium businesses, or extreme home users

Speed tier 5 is the fastest NBN service plan available. If you have NBN and want to take full advantage of it, this speed tier is for you. As a home user, you will be able to download full-length HD movies in a matter of minutes at 100Mbps speeds. For SMB owners, the Tier 5 plans are ideal when several employees are using the connection simultaneously. With upload speeds of 40Mbps, this will allow a business to share photos and videos online and is essential for large data backups.

Cost: The best of the best NBN speed, and unlimited data, can be yours for between $89 and $120, although the most expensive options on the market can cost as much as $175 a month.

Compare NBN providers

Share this article