5G vs NBN: What’s the best internet?

With 5G now a reality for selected lucky Australians, there’s one hot debate that’s set to dominate the telco world in 2020. Can the next generation in mobile network technology replace the NBN as Australia’s go-to broadband connection?

Although it’s still early days for 5G in Australia, the new network is anticipated to reach gigabit speeds. In comparison, the NBN has been met with controversy as it seemingly flounders – despite offering top speeds of up to 100Mbps. With 5G home broadband plans now available from Optus and Telstra – and Vodafone hot on the tails of both providers – could this new mobile network really be better, faster, and more reliable than the NBN?

Read on to find out more about what 5G can offer, and if it’s truly the ‘NBN killer’ Australia deserves.


5G vs. NBN: key points

  • 5G is a next-generation mobile technology that will offer faster-than-ever speeds for mobile phones, tablets, and more.
  • Telstra, Vodafone and Optus have switched on 5G in limited areas, and are currently expanding their 5G networks across Australia. 
  • Optus 5G home broadband and Telstra 5G mobile broadband plans are available now in selected areas. 
  • 5G offers faster maximum speeds than the NBN, but coverage is currently extremely limited in comparison.
  • 5G could be a NBN alternative for some users, but is unlikely to replace other broadband plans and options.

5G Phone Plans

The following table shows a selection of published 24-month plans for the 64GB iPhone 12 on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

The following table shows a selection of published 24-month plans for the 128GB Samsung Galaxy S21 5G on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

The following table shows a selection of published 24-month plans for the Google Pixel 5 on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

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

5G internet is the natural progression of 4G mobile internet, but this next 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. Access to 5G services is now available to Optus and Telstra customers in selected areas, while Vodafone went live with its 5G network in 2020 and currently only offers 5G-capable phones.

In comparison, the NBN rollout is due to be completed nationally by 2021. So overall, the turn of the new decade could see a dramatic uptick in internet speeds across Australia, thanks to the combined adoption of the NBN and 5G cellular networks.

Telstra 5G Mobile Broadband Plans

Telstra was the first to launch 5G mobile services, and now offers several 5G-ready phones and plans. Customers in 5G-enabled areas can also access the fledgling network through Telstra’s 5G home broadband device, the Telstra 5G Wi-Fi Pro. The modem is available now to customers on 12,24 or 36-month mobile plans, which you bundle with a month-to-month Upfront mobile broadband plan.

The 5G Wi-Fi Pro offers coverage both on the new 5G network and Telstra’s existing 4GX service, and 5G access is provided free to all customers on select plans. If you’re on a Medium or Large mobile broadband plan, you will have access to 5G included, but customers on Small and Extra Small options not be able to access the 5G network.

The below table features all published Telstra mobile broadband plans from Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost from lowest to highest and then by data allowance.  These prices do not include the cost of the 5G Wi-Fi Pro. These are products with links to a referral partner.

Telstra Mobile Broadband Plans

The following table shows a selection of published Telstra mobile broadband plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

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

Extra Small

  • SIM only plan – pay upfront via AutoPay
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • No 5G access
  • Share your data with up to 10 plans across your account

min. cost $15 over one month

5GBMax Data**/billing period $15Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Telstra Logo

Small

  • SIM only plan – pay upfront via AutoPay
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • No 5G access
  • Share your data with up to 10 plans across your account

min. cost $25 over one month

30GBMax Data**/billing period $25Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Telstra Logo

Medium

  • SIM only plan – pay upfront via AutoPay
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • 5G access included
  • Share your data with up to 10 plans across your account

min. cost $55 over one month

75GBMax Data**/billing period $55Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Telstra Logo

Large

  • SIM only plan – pay upfront via AutoPay
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • 5G access included
  • Share your data with up to 10 plans across your account

min. cost $85 over one month

400GBMax Data**/billing period $85Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Optus 5G Home Broadband Plans

Optus’ new 5G network is live in selected suburbs, and the telco now sells several 5G-capable smartphones. If you’re looking for a 5G home internet solution, then Optus is also offering unlimited 5G home internet to customers in eligible areas. Qualifying customers can now enjoy unlimited data on the 5G network from only $75 per month for speed capped at 100Mbps, and $90 for unlimited speeds with a Fetch Mighty set top box and channel pack. Currently, Optus is throwing in your first month free.

Optus 5G Internet is available both on a two-year contract and on a month-to-month plan. 24-month plans feature no additional setup costs, but month-to-month customers will need to pay a $200 upfront start-up fee. Both plan options include a wireless Nokia 5G modem with 4G/LTE backup.

Optus 5G home broadband also comes with a 50Mbps Satisfaction Guarantee. Customers who don’t achieve download speeds of a least 50Mbps, or who experience 5G signal issues, are free to cancel their service with no cancellation fees, provided the included Nokia 5G modem is returned in good condition.

The following table shows selected published Optus 5G home internet plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest.

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

Optus 5G Internet Everyday

  • Speed capped at 100Mbps
  • 50Mbps satisfaction guarantee
  • Includes the Optus supplied Nokia FastMile 5G Gateway Modem ($576 modem cost)
  • Stay connected for 36 months and pay $0 for the modem
  • Special offer: $0 Start-up fee + 1 Month free

min. cost $655 over first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $79Advertised Cost^^/billing period Link to provider unavailable
Optus Logo

Optus 5G Internet Entertainer

  • No speed cap
  • 50Mbps satisfaction guarantee
  • Includes the Optus supplied Nokia FastMile 5G Gateway Modem ($576 modem cost)
  • Stay connected for 36 months and pay $0 for the modem
  • Special offer: $0 Start-up fee + 1 Month free
  • Intro offer: $89/mth for first 6 mths, then $99/mth T&Cs Apply

min. cost $675 over first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $89Advertised Cost^^/billing period Link to provider unavailable
View all NBN 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 which provider you’re with, and what technology they’re backing. However, there is no good reason why 5G and NBN 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 its 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 that in that time NBN could gain even further ground. Nevertheless, Vodafone has started rolling out its own 5G network, playing catchup to the big two.

Vodafone is the newest of the ‘Big Three’ telcos to offer NBN plans, while Optus and Telstra have had their offers available for some time, offering broadband along with entertainment bundles, discounts, and deals. While it may seem Vodafone is backing down on the NBN hype, its CEO did push the ‘co-existence’ model, rather than 5G taking over NBN or vice versa. Although some think that 5G might be the death of the NBN, the broadband network is certainly not going away.

Fast NBN Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Premium Evening Speed (NBN 100) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Superfast NBN plans: NBN 250 and NBN 1000

If you’re on a Fibre to the Premises or selected HFC NBN connection, you may be eligible for super-fast NBN 250 or NBN 1000. These NBN plans offer speeds that up to 1Gbps, although realistically your real-world performance won’t be quite that high. However, these are still incredibly fast options for NBN customers looking for a better speed than NBN 100, but wanting a reliable fixed fibre connection with unlimited data.

NBN 250 Plans Compared

The following table shows selected published unlimited NBN 250 plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of their standard monthly cost, from lowest to highest, then alphabetically. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

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

elite mates Home Superfast BYO

  • Superfast 250/25 Evening Speed (NBN 250)
  • Special offer: $89 per month for the first 6 months, then $109 per month ongoing. Terms apply, offer available until withdrawn.

min. cost $109 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $109Advertised Cost^^/billing period
iPrimus Logo

NBN 250

  • Home Superfast Speed (NBN 250)
  • $70 setup fee
  • Modem included ($15 P&H)
  • PAYG calls

min. cost $185 over first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $115Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
MyRepublic Logo

Unlimited NBN Superfast

  • NBN 250/25Mbps speed
  • Optional WiFi hub+ modem for $149 upfront plus $10 P&H
  • Special offer: $95 for the first six months, then $115 ongoing. Terms apply.

min. cost $115 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $115Advertised Data^^/billing period
Kogan Logo

Platinum Unlimited

  • Home Superfast Speed (NBN 250/25)
  • Modem available for $69 upfront

min. cost $119.90 for first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $119.90Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
Superloop logo

Unlimited Superfast 250/25

  • Home Superfast Speed (NBN 250/25)
  • Special offer: $99.95 for the first six months, then $119.95 ongoing. Offer expires 31/10/21, terms apply.

min. cost $119.95 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $119.95Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site

Power User

  • Home Superfast Speed (NBN 250/25)
  • Optional modem from $149 ($15 P&H)
  • Special offer: First month free when you use code ‘FASTMONTH‘ at checkout. Terms apply.

min. cost $129 over first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $129Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
Internode

NBN250 Unlimited

  • Home Superfast Speed (NBN 250/25)
  • Special offer: $99.99 for the first six months, then $129.99 ongoing. Terms apply.

min. cost $129.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $129.99Advertised Cost^^/billing period
iiNet Logo

NBN250 Liimitless

  • Home Superfast Speed (NBN 250/25)
  • Special offer: $99.99 for the first six months, then $129.99 ongoing. Terms apply.

min. cost $129.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $129.99Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Telstra Logo

Superfast NBN

  • Superfast Speed (NBN 250)
  • Typical evening speed: 215Mbps
  • $216 modem (free when you stay connected for 24 months)
  • Special offer: $99 connection fee waived (online only)
  • Special offer: Get 3 months BINGE standard subscription, terms apply. Offer available until withdrawn.
  • Unlimited local, national & mobile calls included

min. cost $3,459 over 24 months

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $140Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Aussie Broadband Unlimited Superfast (NBN 250) and Ultrafast (NBN 1000) Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Aussie Broadband NBN plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

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

Power User

  • Home Superfast Speed (NBN 250/25)
  • Optional modem from $149 ($15 P&H)

min. cost $129 over first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $129Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site

Power House

  • Home Ultrafast Speed (NBN 1000/50)
  • Optional modem from $149 ($15 P&H)

min. cost $149 over first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $149Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Superloop Superfast (NBN 250) and Ultrafast (NBN 1000) Plans

The following table shows a selection of published Superloop NBN plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Superloop logo

Unlimited Superfast 250/25

  • Superfast 250/25 Evening Speed (NBN 250)

min. cost $119.95 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $119.95Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
Superloop logo

Ultrafast 1000/50

  • Ultrafast 1000/50 Evening Speed (NBN 1000)

min. cost $139.95 over one month

3TBMax Data**/billing period $139.95Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
Superloop logo

Unlimited Fast 200/200

  • Fast 200/200 Evening Speed (NBN 250)

min. cost $209 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $209Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
Superloop logo

Unlimited Superfast Plus 250/100

  • Superfast Plus 250/100 Evening Speed (NBN 250)

min. cost $209 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $209Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Telstra Superfast (NBN 250) & Ultrafast (NBN 1000) Plans

The following table shows a selection of published Telstra NBN 250 and NBN 1000 plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of their standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

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

Superfast NBN

  • Superfast Speed (NBN 250)
  • Typical evening speed: 215Mbps
  • $216 modem (free when you stay connected for 24 months)
  • Special offer: $99 connection fee waived (online only)
  • Special offer: Get 3 months BINGE standard subscription, terms apply. Offer available until withdrawn.
  • Unlimited local, national & mobile calls included

min. cost $3,459 over 24 months

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $140Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Ultrafast NBN

  • Ultrafast Speed (NBN 1000)
  • Typical evening speed: 250Mbps
  • $216 modem (free when you stay connected for 24 months)
  • Special offer: $99 connection fee waived (online only)
  • Special offer: Get 3 months BINGE standard subscription, terms apply. Offer available until withdrawn.
  • Unlimited local, national & mobile calls included

min. cost $4,419 over 24 months

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $180Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Pros & cons of 5G

The fastest speeds currently available to NBN customers in Australia are 1Gbps, with Wollongong in NSW being dubbed ‘Gigatown’ after MyRepublic picked the city to debut its one gigabit-per-second broadband plan. However, this is still up to 20 times slower than the speeds which are theoretically possible with 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 lead to a significantly improved experience for online gamers.

Optus currently guarantees speeds of at least 50Mbps on its 5G home broadband plans, and has reported that customers have so far experienced peak speeds of 295Mbps. Telstra’s 5G network has recorded speeds of over 1Gbps on 5G-enabled devices such as the OPPO Reno 5G and Galaxy S10 5G, and both mobile and broadband speeds are noticeably faster than what you’ll experience with 4G.

While 5G is faster than 4G, it’s unlikely to be as widely available as the 4G services operated by Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone. Around 99% of Australians can access some form of 4G coverage, but 5G isn’t expected to be nearly as expansive — another reason why the NBN isn’t likely to be usurped as Australia’s number-one broadband option.

4G Mobile Broadband Plans

Not yet covered by Telstra or Optus’ 5G networks? 4G data is still widely available as an on-the-go alternative to fixed broadband. The following table shows a selection of published mobile broadband plans from leading providers on Canstar Blue’s database.

Telstra Mobile Broadband Plans

The following table shows a selection of published Telstra mobile broadband plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

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

Extra Small

  • SIM only plan – pay upfront via AutoPay
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • No 5G access
  • Share your data with up to 10 plans across your account

min. cost $15 over one month

5GBMax Data**/billing period $15Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Telstra Logo

Small

  • SIM only plan – pay upfront via AutoPay
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • No 5G access
  • Share your data with up to 10 plans across your account

min. cost $25 over one month

30GBMax Data**/billing period $25Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Telstra Logo

Medium

  • SIM only plan – pay upfront via AutoPay
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • 5G access included
  • Share your data with up to 10 plans across your account

min. cost $55 over one month

75GBMax Data**/billing period $55Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Telstra Logo

Large

  • SIM only plan – pay upfront via AutoPay
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • 5G access included
  • Share your data with up to 10 plans across your account

min. cost $85 over one month

400GBMax Data**/billing period $85Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Vodafone Mobile Broadband Plans

The following table shows a selection of published Vodafone mobile broadband plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

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

10GB Mobile Broadband Plan

  • SIM Only plan

min. cost $20 over first month

10GBMax Data**/billing period $20Advertised Cost^^/billing period

Link to provider unavailable

Vodafone Logo

40GB Mobile Broadband Plan

  • SIM Only plan

min. cost $40 over first month

40GBMax Data**/billing period $40Advertised Cost^^/billing period

Link to provider unavailable

Vodafone Logo

100GB Mobile Broadband Plan

  • SIM Only plan

min. cost $60 over first month

100GBMax Data**/billing period $60Advertised Cost^^/billing period

Link to provider unavailable

View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Amaysim Mobile Broadband Plans

The following table shows a selection of  published Amaysim mobile broadband plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

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

SIM Only 7GB

  • SIM Only

min. cost $15 over 28 day billing period

7GBMax Data**/billing period $15Advertised Cost^^/billing period

Link to provider unavailable

Amaysim Logo

SIM Only 50GB

  • SIM Only

min. cost $40 over 28 day billing period

50GBMax Data**/billing period $40Advertised Cost^^/billing period

Link to provider unavailable

Amaysim Logo

SIM Only 90GB

  • SIM Only

min. cost $60 over 28 day billing period

90GBMax Data**/billing period $60Advertised Cost^^/billing period

Link to provider unavailable

View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Southern Phone Mobile Broadband Plans

The following table shows a selection of published Southern Phone mobile broadband plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

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

Extra Small

  • SIM Only

min. cost $180 over 12 month plan period

7GBMax Data**/billing period $15Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Southern Phones Logo

Small

  • SIM Only

min. cost $300 over 12 month plan period

15GBMax Data**/billing period $25Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Southern Phones Logo

Medium

  • SIM Only

min. cost $480 over 12 month plan period

50GBMax Data**/billing period $40Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Southern Phones Logo

Large

  • SIM Only

min. cost $780 over 12 month plan period

100GBMax Data**/billing period $65Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

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. And with 5G now live in major metro areas (and a growing number of 5G-capable devices now on the market), lucky Australians finally have the opportunity to test out this next-generation technology for themselves.

With its fast speeds, low latency, and high bandwidth capacity, 5G has the potential to revolutionise internet in Australia — but don’t count out NBN just yet.

More information on 5G in Australia

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