Australia is a huge country geographically, with not a whole lot of people in it. Even though we are one of the most urbanised countries in the world, building the National Broadband Network (NBN) and providing ‘fast’ internet in general has been no mean feat. In fact, it has been somewhat of a struggle, with providers having to compensate customers for slow speeds, and a whole range of customers ditching the NBN and moving to alternative networks.
With the NBN projected to be finished around 2021, customers are hopeful that their internet speeds will be improved by that time. However, 2021 is still some time away, so what are the fastest speeds Aussies can get right now, and is fast internet actually good value?
What is the fastest internet in Australia?
Generally speaking, the fastest household internet speeds you can expect in Australia are around 100 megabits per second (Mbps) downloading, and 40Mbps uploading.
- 100Mbps means you can download around 12.5 megabytes of content per second.
While there are undoubtedly some households sporadically achieving above this mark, 100Mbps is pretty much the benchmark for fast internet in Australia, while geographically smaller nations like Singapore and even New Zealand are getting access to much faster speeds of up to 1Gbps (gigabit per second), which is 1000Mbps – 10 times faster than the fastest internet available in Australia. Here, Tier 4 NBN plans like the ones below will likely be as good as it gets.
I’ve experienced faster speeds than 100Mbps: What gives?
While there are certainly instances of home broadband speeds faster than 100Mbps downloading, chances are if you’ve done a speed test at a university or large business, you have experienced speeds much faster than 100Mbps. Wireless speeds of 400Mbps or more at a university are not uncommon! This is because they frequently have more advanced infrastructure and different plans as to what’s available to the average home user. Residents of new apartment buildings may also get access to faster speeds than average, probably because of fibre internet being fed straight through the building – speeds of over 100Mbps for both downloading and uploading are often achieved.
How can I get fast internet in my home?
There are a number of things you can do to improve your internet speed without changing your plan per se, but Aussies are generally experiencing faster internet speeds than ever before, with big potential for the future. However, pretty much the most foolproof way is to get an NBN plan on the fastest speed tier – that being Tier 4.
NBN Tier 4 – 100Mbps Internet Plans
Tier 4 represents the pinnacle of NBN top speeds in Australia – with 100Mbps downloads and 40Mbps uploads. NBN Co (the company responsible for the rollout of NBN across the country) says that these speeds are good for 4K video streaming, ‘super responsive’ online gaming, and uploading and downloading large files.
- Optus claims that Tier 4 max speeds are enough to download a 200 megabyte TV show (about a 42 minute long show in high definition) in just 16 seconds
However, with Tier 4 NBN plans, be prepared to pay a pretty penny – often $80 a month or more for unlimited data.
How much does Tier 4 NBN cost?
For unlimited data, the least you can expect to pay is about $70 a month, with most plans around $90 a month or more. For these prices, you usually only get straight broadband and not much in the way of home phone call packs, or any other perks included. At the cheapest end of the scale, keep an eye out for service providers like MyRepublic, SpinTel, Barefoot Telecom and Mate Communicate. This is how their NBN plans shape up.
What if I don’t have fibre NBN?
While fibre NBN customers have the best chance to get superfast internet, other users shouldn’t be completely dismayed.
- NBN Fixed Wireless customers can still get up to 50Mbps download speeds
- SkyMuster customers can still achieve download speeds of around 25Mbps
- ADSL2+ customers can get speeds download speeds up to 24Mbps
- Cable customers can get anywhere from up to 30Mbps all the way up to 100Mbps
While it doesn’t seem so long ago that Australians were used to hearing the beeps and boops of dial-up internet, it’s evident we’ve come a long way in regards to internet speeds.
- Remember: 1 megabit is equal to about 0.125 megabytes, so multiply your theoretical top speed by that amount and that is feasibly how much you could download in one second.
However, keep in mind is that these listed top speeds are a maximum only. Many users report that their internet is much slower than the advertised speed, and as mentioned earlier, there are several factors that can be at fault here. While it makes sense to optimise your internet speed where possible, at the end of the day there are things like congestion that are out of your control that can affect speeds.
The issue of advertised speeds falling short of expectations has become a serious issue, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) investigating service providers to ensure the most accurate performance information is reported before customers sign up to new plans. Some fixed wireless and SkyMuster NBN plans can be found below, for an indication on price:
What’s the best internet for streaming?
Netflix regularly rates how fast popular Australian broadband providers perform in its streaming speed tests. Optus frequently ranks as the best provider for Netflix out of the six main providers tested, usually ahead of iiNet, while Telstra typically rates poorly.
- Netflix recommends a minimum speed of 0.5Mbps for standard streaming and much faster for HD streaming.
- HD streaming requires much more bandwidth and a higher download speed.
Luckily, most broadband connections in Australia can feasibly cover this requirement. However, congestion and other factors can wreak havoc on your Netflix enjoyment. Below are some of the top performers in Netflix’s ISP speed ratings.
Should I get faster internet?
Fast internet relies on countless factors to achieve optimum speeds, so taking a stab in the dark and changing providers on the same connection may not result in the improved performance you crave. However, if your current plan has been rather lackluster for a long time – and at all times of the day – then it could make sense to test the waters and switch providers.
- Arguably the best and easiest way to get faster internet will be to wait until the NBN comes to your house and upgrade to the fastest speed tier available.
- If you’re already on the NBN, you might be surprised to know that a faster speed tier may not be all that much more expensive.
The NBN is Australia’s best hope for reliable, wide-reaching and ‘fast’ internet, but until it’s rolled out across the country, it can pay to make the best of what you currently have and shop around for a better deal.