5G Vs NBN: What’s the best internet?

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It’s the hot debate starting to flare up as 5G edges closer to becoming a reality. 5G is hotly anticipated to reach gigabit speeds, while the NBN has been met with controversy as it seemingly flounders with 100Mbps top speeds. Find out more about what 5G can offer and if it’s truly the ‘NBN killer’ Australia deserves.

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What is 5G internet & when will it arrive in Australia?

5G is the natural progression of 4G mobile internet, but this generation looks set to be a big one. Pundits say it could deliver speeds up to 20 times faster than the fastest fixed line internet in Australia, so it has some big claims to its name already. 5G was due to be rolled in the United States in the latter part of 2018, with big telcos AT&T and Verizon keen to pioneer the technology.

Telstra is already on-board, having switched on 5G sites across Sydney and Melbourne in late 2018. Australia’s largest telco boasts 187 5G-ready stations across Australia, with more being added in time for the 2019 launch. The only downside is that we still have to wait until the first 5G-ready mobile phones hit the market, with manufacturers like Samsung and OPPO having confirmed plans to release 5G phones in 2019.

Not long after Telstra’s big announcement Optus came to the 5G game after launching a 5G home broadband plan. For $70 per month ($1,690 over two years), this will be available to select customers who can apply for access via an expression of interest program. The first roll out was focused in three locations, with two suburbs, Manuka and Dickson, in the ACT and Glendenning in Sydney. This will roll out to more locations across Australia throughout 2019.

The NBN rollout is due to be completed nationally by 2021, meaning the turn of the new decade could see a dramatic uptick in internet speeds across Australia. Access to 5G services is a fair way off, which may not be completed until well into 2020. Fixed wireless internet customers may be among the first to see the benefits, connecting to a hub that then connects to a 5G data service.

Below is a list of providers with 4G mobile phone plans with at least 10GB data on board. Each have a direct link to their respective websites.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Boost Mobile

$40 Prepaid

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Unlimited international calls to 15 countries, 100 mins to 35 countries, 100 texts to 50 countries

min. cost $40 over 28 day billing period

22GBMax Data**/billing period $40Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Exetel Logo

Extra Value 4G

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Unlimited international SMS
  • $300 international call value

min. cost $419.88 over 12 month plan period

18GBMax Data**/billing period $34.99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Moose Mobile Logo

Moose 29 SIM Only – 12M

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • $400 international call credit

min. cost $348 over 12 month contract

18GBMax Data**/billing period $29Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Hive Mobile

$28.80 SIM Plan

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS

min. cost $28.80 over one month

10GBMax Data**/billing period $28.80Advertised Data^^/billing period More Details
Amaysim Logo

UNLIMITED 10GB Prepaid

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Unlimited standard international calls to 10 countries

min. cost $30 over 28 day billing period

10GBMax Data**/billing period $30Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
View all mobile plans listed on Canstar Blue

5G Vs NBN: What could be better for home internet?

Aside from speed comparisons, what ends up being better for home internet could entirely depend on what provider you’re with and what technology they’re backing. However, there is no reason the two services cannot complement each other, like how 4G is used for mobile applications and NBN services home internet needs today.

While Telstra and Optus have not been coy about their support for 5G, the third big carrier in Australia, Vodafone, is a bit more reserved in his approach to 5G. CEO Inaki Berroeta has downplayed the hype, saying that the new spectrum will not realistically be available for a few years and in that time NBN could gain even further ground. Nevertheless, Vodafone is building its own 5G network and aiming to have it up and running in 2020.

Vodafone is the newest of the ‘Big 3’ telcos to offer NBN plans, while Optus and Telstra have had their offers available for some time, offering entertainment bundles, discounts, deals and the like. While it may seem Vodafone is backing down on the NBN hype, its CEO did push the ‘coexistence’ model rather than 5G taking over NBN, or vice versa. While some think that 5G might be the death of the NBN, it’s certainly not going away as the roll out continues and more areas are switched on.

Below are brands that feature unlimited data on the fastest NBN speed tier – 100/40. Brands have a direct link to their websites.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
iiNet Logo

Ultimate

  • Premium Evening Speed (NBN 100)
  • $79.95 activation fee

min. cost $278.94 over first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $99.99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
MyRepublic Logo

Unlimited Premium plan

  • Premium Evening Speed (NBN 100)
  • Optional WiFi hub from $1 + $10 delivery fee

min. cost $1079.40 over 12 months

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $89.95Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Vodafone Logo

Premium NBN (Month to month contract)

  • Premium Evening Speed (NBN 100)
  • $180 Upfront modem reduced to $0 over 36 months

min. cost $269 over first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $89Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Exetel

NBN Premium Unlimited

  • Premium Evening Speed (NBN 100)
  • $0 Upfront cost

min. cost $89.99 over first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $89.99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Internode

NBN Platinum Unlimited

  • Premium Evening Speed (NBN 100)
  • $99 Upfront

min. cost $198.99 over first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $99.99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Start Logo

Unlimited As Fast as it Gets

  • Premium Evening Speed (NBN 100)
  • Optional Start ‘Gateway’, with $15 delivery fee

min. cost $95 over first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $95Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Pros & Cons of 5G

The fastest speeds currently available in Australia are 1Gbps, with Wollongong in NSW being dubbed ‘gigatown’, which is up to 20 times slower than what could be achievable on 5G.

The fastest NBN speed tier available to most Australians is 100Mbps, while 5G could reach up to 20Gbps – 200 times faster. Aside from speed, 5G may also reduce ‘ping’ times, which could be a game changer for online gamers.

In past trials, Optus said it achieved real-world results of 2Gbps. However, could 5G feasibly replace NBN as the home internet king? Coverage of 5G is a major concern. Telstra had previously come out saying that one million Australians will be covered – less than 5% of the total population – while 3G and 4G services currently cover up to 98% of Australians at present.

The Final Word on 5G

While 5G may not totally replace the NBN, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get a little excited about it! With up to 20Gbps download speeds a theoretical possibility, Australia could experience a whole new world when it comes to the internet. As the big telcos are building their 5G networks and with 5G phones on the horizon, there isn’t long to wait now.

Further, like with 4G in the past, expect data to be expensive at first. It will be interesting to see how the many telcos and Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) receive 5G and what they’ll charge for it. Nevertheless, 5G has the potential to revolutionise internet in Australia, but don’t count out NBN just yet.

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