There’s nothing worse than when the internet drops out for no apparent reason, knowing it’s not your fault. But, that’s a fact of life for many Australians, including those on the National Broadband Network (NBN). While there are countless different routers and modems out there, few have dual access to a 4G connection should your home internet go awry. And even fewer again do the hard work for you – Telstra and Vodafone are some of the only telcos in Australia that provide home internet plans with 4G backup modems. Review what you can get below, and how much you can expect to pay.
Internet Plans & Routers with 4G Backup
There are two key service providers in Australia that backup their plans with 4G in case things go awry – they are Telstra and Vodafone. Both offer modems that, should the NBN go down, switch to a 4G mobile data connection so you can continue browsing as if nothing happened.
Telstra Smart Modem & Plans
Telstra has released its updated ‘Smart Modem’, which switches from the home network to Telstra’s mobile network if and when needed. Users can also get online sooner and start browsing without the need for home installation – they can use 4G until it’s installed.
- It comes with an inbuilt SIM card, which it automatically switches to should the home connection drop out.
- 4G mobile data speeds are limited to 6/1Mbps – enough to do the basics and maintain about one stream if conditions are right.
The Telstra Smart Modem is available on ADSL, VDSL and NBN internet connections and is included on 24-month contracts. Month-to-month customers must pay $216 upfront for the modem.
Vodafone Wi-Fi Hub Modem & Plans
Vodafone has also come to the game with a ‘Wi-Fi Hub’ modem that enables 4G access before home line installation and if the home network drops out.
- The Wi-Fi Hub enables instant access while you wait for NBN to be installed, up to 30 days or until the home service is activated.
- The Hub also acts as a 4G backup should the NBN connection drop out.
- Max speeds are 12/1Mbps – the equivalent of NBN Basic speed.
Vodafone’s max speed is faster than Telstra’s, but depending on network congestion, end user speeds could be about the same. 12/1Mbps at its best is good enough for a High Definition stream and basic browsing. Plans come on 24-month contracts as standard, and all include unlimited data. There is no extra cost associated with the Wi-Fi Hub. Vodafone solely deals in NBN plans for fixed line internet.
Other Solutions When the Internet Drops Out
You don’t necessarily have to throw the baby out with the bath water when the internet drops out. That is to say, you don’t necessarily NEED a new internet provider if internet is patchy. There are three other solutions if the internet is regularly dropping out at your place – listed below from least drastic to most drastic.
A prepaid or postpaid mobile broadband plan with a dongle or pocket Wi-Fi modem may serve as a good backup should your home connection drop. Dongles and pocket Wi-Fi modems can be found from under $30, and many can be bundled in with a Telstra, Optus or Vodafone mobile broadband plan.
- Prepaid options represent the most flexibility as you can recharge at any time.
- Postpaid, contracted options may offer more data for the money.
Mobile broadband usually represents the cheapest ‘backup’ to a home line, but plans can quickly reach into the $40+ range a month for any appreciable amounts of data. Below is a selection of plans with at least 10GB data.
Home Wireless Broadband
Home wireless is the natural bigger brother to a mobile broadband plan. It’s essentially the same thing, just with more data involved. It is designed to replace your home connection – and users can get about 200GB for $70 or unlimited data for $90.
- Home wireless can be a significant extra cost in lieu of your NBN or home internet connection, and it may be enough to ditch your old connection entirely.
Ditching the NBN
By far and away the most drastic way to curb NBN dropouts is to ditch the NBN entirely. Just because your home is connected to the network, doesn’t mean you need an active NBN plan! There are a range of NBN alternatives popping up in capital cities around the country, and offer speeds similar to that on the NBN.
- Alternative providers offer plans from under $50, and often operate in small areas – often just one capital city or even in specific suburbs.
- Connections are essentially a fixed wireless network.
- Keep an eye out for providers such as ‘Spirit Telecom’, ‘Lightning Broadband’, ‘W3 Networks’, ‘OpalNet’, ‘Life Wireless’, ‘Uniti’, and more.
However, you do have to keep in mind significant upfront costs, as some like to charge more than $200 just to set up the connection. Also keep in mind that if you are much outside a capital city, you may not even be serviced.
Is an internet plan with 4G backup worthwhile?
An internet plan with 4G backup certainly makes some providers look like they’re living in 3017, but is it worth the fuss? Getting connected straight away and being able to browse should the NBN or internet drop out is a great idea, but the speeds on offer are relatively meagre. The maximum download speed on offer is 12Mbps, which is enough for basic tasks but likely cannot sustain a whole family’s broadband needs.
- Keep in mind to get access to these ‘smart’ modems, you usually need to sign up for a 24-month contract or pay a hefty upfront fee.
- Relatively few providers also offer it, which means you have less to choose from, but luckily plans on offer with 4G backup are quite competitive.
Modems with 4G backup is a relatively new phenomenon but it’s one Australia is likely to see more of. If your home internet is giving you grief, it’s probably only a matter of time before another provider pops up with 4G backup. However, there is a range of things to consider before getting too hyped up about insta-connect and 4G backup features in a broadband plan.