What happens if you don’t switch to the NBN? Is it compulsory?

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The National Broadband Network (NBN) is on track to be completed in the second half of 2020 – but although the end of the initial rollout is approaching, there’s still a lot of confusion around the network. You may be wondering if the NBN will be faster, if plans will be cheaper, and if it’s even compulsory to switch to the service when it’s available in your area.

In this article, we’ll be answering that last question: Do you have to switch to the NBN, and what happens if you don’t?

Is the NBN compulsory?

No, the NBN is not compulsory in that no one can make you connect to the network, but it does mean you could be left without fixed-line internet for your home. While you can’t prevent NBN Co from installing the network in your area, you can still opt out if you have doubts, or simply prefer to use another type of internet service instead.

However, any pre-existing ADSL and telephone lines connected to your property prior to NBN installation will be turned off after 18 months as this old technology is being phased out. So, if you’re using an ADSL broadband plan, you’ll need to switch to another service (although not necessarily the NBN) to continue accessing the internet at home.

Reasons why you might not want the NBN

There are quite a few reasons for having doubts about connecting to the NBN, including:

  • You’ve heard bad stories about the connection process.
  • You’re disappointed by the type of connection in your area.
  • You already have an alternative, or want to wait for one to become available.
  • You simply don’t want an NBN connection box installed on your property.

But you’ll have to weigh up the pros and cons, as well as any other options, before deciding what to do.

NBN paving

Is it worth connecting to the NBN?

While the NBN has caught a lot of flak over the years, regarding disappointing download speeds, connection woes and drop-outs, it’s still overall a much better service than its ADSL counterpart. It’s generally much faster and should make using the internet at home a lot less stressful if you’re used to seeing that spinning wheel of doom every time you try to load a video, especially if you connect to one of the super-fast speed tiers.

Working from home should be much more efficient on an NBN connection – especially if you join lots of conference calls – and high definition streaming and online gaming should work better.

To give you can idea of what other Aussies think about the NBN, a recent Canstar Blue survey of more than 2,500 NBN customers found that:

  • 64% switched over to the NBN as soon as it was available in their area
  • 40% pay more for their NBN service than old internet connection type
  • 18% are considering ditching the NBN for another type of internet service

Of 1,200 survey respondents not yet connected to the NBN, we found that:

  • 41% are looking forward to the NBN becoming available
  • 34% plan to switch to the NBN as soon as it’s available
  • 38% are considering alternatives to the NBN instead

If you are interested in hopping on the NBN train, you’ll find a selection of great plans below.

NBN Plans

Unlimited Premium Evening Speed (NBN 100) 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 standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Unlimited Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN 50) Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN 50) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Unlimited Standard Evening Speed (NBN 25) Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Standard Evening Speed (NBN 25) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Unlimited Basic Evening Speed (NBN 12) Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Basic Evening Speed (NBN 12) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

What happens if I don’t switch to the NBN?

If you don’t switch to the NBN after its installation and activation in your suburb, you’ll have 18 months before the area’s ADSL and phone line services are disconnected. This is because the technology is being phased out and replaced by the NBN’s fixed-line fibre network.

Services that will be permanently shut off due to the NBN rollout include:

  • All home and landline phone services delivered over Telstra’s copper phone lines
  • All ADSL, ADSL2 and ADSL2+ internet services
  • Telstra BigPond cable internet
  • Optus cable internet and cable home phone

If you’re using any of the above, you’ll need to find an alternative internet service within 18 months of the NBN going live in your area. If you’re a landline phone user, you won’t have to give up your home phone: you can simply move to a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) home line, either via your NBN connection or through another VoIP provider.

If you’re already using a phone or internet service that isn’t included above, you should be able to stick with your plan and provider after ADSL, cable and home phone lines are disconnected. Services that fall into this category include private or non-government fibre networks, or cable networks that aren’t owned by Optus or Telstra. More information about these NBN alternative providers can be found below.

  • There is an exception to the ADSL and phone line switch-off. If your home is designated to be connected to the NBN via Fixed Wireless or SkyMuster satellite, rather than a fixed-line fibre connection, your existing home phone service won’t be disconnected (unless you’d prefer to move to a VoIP plan).

What else could be impacted by switching to the NBN?

Aside from your old internet connection, other services that may be impacted by a switch to the NBN include:

  • Fire alarms and home security systems
  • Medical alarms
  • Elevator emergency phones
  • EFTPOS and health claims terminals
  • Fax machines and teletypewriter devices

If any of these apply to you, speak with your service, alarm or device provider about your options before switching to the NBN.

NBN node

Should I connect to the NBN or not?

With old ADSL and cable internet services being turned off once the NBN is available in your area, you’ll have to decide what type of home internet you want. If you want a fixed-line service, the NBN is likely your best bet. And by that, we mean your only option. HOWEVER, if you’re willing to give a wireless type of internet service a shot, you might be glad you did, especially now that 5G is being rolled out across parts of Australia.

Essentially, you could use the 18 months you have between the NBN becoming available in your area and your old internet being cut off, to consider your options. This includes waiting for 5G mobile broadband to become available in your area. The downside to this, is you run the risk of 5G not becoming available in time, leaving you with no home internet. That said, 5G is far from your only option here, with 4G mobile broadband, home wireless broadband and even private networks (depending on where you live) providing good alternatives.

NBN Alternatives

If you’re certain you don’t want to connect to the NBN, here are your other options.

Mobile Broadband

Mobile broadband uses Telstra, Optus and Vodafone’s 4G and 5G mobile networks to connect your home to the internet. Mobile broadband plans usually come with a SIM card (that doesn’t have a phone number) that can be inserted into a tablet or device, but you can also connect through a USB dongle or pocket WiFi hub – it all depends on your plan and provider. The major benefit of mobile broadband is that it’s portable, flexible and can be accessed anywhere you have network coverage – not just inside your home!

  • Mobile broadband plans are priced by data inclusions, with many plans offering extra pay-as-you-go data or add-on packs. However, unlimited data mobile broadband isn’t available, and pricing tends to be expensive compared to fixed-line NBN.
  • While almost all mobile broadband plans in Australia connect via 4G mobile networks, 5G mobile broadband has recently become available through Telstra, but you’ll have to sign up to a Telstra plan with a 5G-capable device to access it.

Mobile Broadband Plans

Mobile Broadband Plans Compared: Over 100GB

The following table shows a selection of published mobile broadband plans with over 100GB of data 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

Large

  • SIM only plan
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • Includes data-free sports and music streaming
  • 5G access included

min. cost $75 over one month

200GBMax Data**/billing period $75Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
Ovo Logo

OVOBoom XL

  • Unlimited sport and radio on OVOPlay
  • BYO modem option

min. cost $79.95 over 30 day billing period

250GBMax Data**/billing period $79.95Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Mobile Broadband Plans Compared: 100GB

The following table shows a selection of published 100GB 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

100GB Mobile Broadband Plan

  • SIM Only plan

min. cost $720 over 12 months

100GBMax Data**/billing period $60Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
Ovo Logo

OVOBoom Large

  • Unlimited sport and radio on OVOPlay
  • BYO modem option

min. cost $64.95 over 30 day billing period

100GBMax Data**/billing period $64.95Advertised 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

Mobile Broadband Plans Compared: Over 50GB

The following table shows a selection of published mobile broadband plans with 50GB – 100GB of data 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 50GB

  • SIM Only

min. cost $40 over 28 day billing period

50GBMax Data**/billing period $40Advertised 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
Vodafone Logo

60GB Mobile Broadband Plan

  • SIM Only plan

min. cost $540 over 12 months

60GBMax Data**/billing period $45Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
Ovo Logo

OVOBoom Small

  • Unlimited sport and radio on OVOPlay
  • BYO modem option

min. cost $49.95 over 30 day billing period

50GBMax Data**/billing period $49.95Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Medium

  • SIM only plan
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • Includes data-free sports and music streaming
  • 5G access included

min. cost $50 over one month

60GBMax Data**/billing period $50Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
Amaysim Logo

SIM Only 90GB

  • SIM Only

min. cost $60 over 28 day billing period

90GBMax Data**/billing period $60Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Mobile Broadband Plans Compared: Under 50GB

The following table shows a selection of published mobile broadband plans with less than 50GB of data 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 Go To Site
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
Telstra Logo

Extra Small

  • SIM only plan
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • Includes data-free sports and music streaming
  • No 5G access

min. cost $15 over one month

5GBMax Data**/billing period $15Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
Vodafone Logo

5GB Mobile Broadband Plan

  • SIM Only plan

min. cost $180 over 12 months

5GBMax 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
Telstra Logo

Small

  • SIM only plan
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • Includes data-free sports and music streaming
  • No 5G access

min. cost $25 over one month

20GBMax Data**/billing period $25Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
Vodafone Logo

25GB Mobile Broadband Plan

  • SIM Only plan

min. cost $360 over 12 months

25GBMax Data**/billing period $30Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Home Wireless Broadband

Like mobile broadband, home wireless broadband uses 4G and 5G networks to provide your home with a broadband connection. But unlike mobile broadband, home wireless broadband connects through a plug-in modem/router, and can’t leave your property. If you’re using mobile broadband, you can take the SIM card or dongle anywhere – but if you’re on a home wireless broadband plan, you’ll only be able to connect in your home.

  • The upside is that home wireless broadband plans tend to offer more data for your money, with inclusions of 100GB, 200GB or even 500GB per month available. Home wireless is a good alternative if you move frequently, want to avoid lock-in contracts, or want speeds that are potentially faster than most entry-level and standard NBN plans.
  • While 4G is fast, 5G wireless broadband is also being rolled out. Right now, the only way you can get 5G home wireless broadband is through Optus, which offers an unlimited 5G plan to eligible customers on its own network. However, this plan is only available in selected areas.

4G Wireless Broadband Plans

Southern Phone Wireless Broadband Plans

The following table shows a selection of published Southern Phone wireless 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

Home Wireless 50

  • Includes WiFi modem
  • Optus 4G wireless broadband network

min. cost $1,279 over 24 month plan period

200GBMax Data**/billing period $50Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
Southern Phones Logo

Home Wireless 70

  • Includes WiFi modem
  • Optus 4G wireless broadband network

min. cost $1,579 over 24 month plan period

500GBMax Data**/billing period $70Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Optus Wireless Broadband Plans

The following table shows a selection of published Optus wireless 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.

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

4G Wireless Broadband 200GB

  • Includes: B8 18 modem

min. cost $1,560 over 24 month plan period

200GBMax Data**/billing period $65Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Optus Logo

4G Wireless Broadband 500GB

  • Includes: B8 18 modem

min. cost $2,040 over 24 month plan period

500GBMax Data**/billing period $85Advertised Cost^^/billing period
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Yomojo Wireless Broadband Plans

The following table shows a selection of published Yomojo wireless 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.

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

Home Wireless Broadband Plan

  • $169 Huawei 4G B525 Modem upfront cost

min. cost $228.90 for the first month

200GBMax Data**/billing period $59.90Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Yomojo Logo

Home Wireless Broadband Plan

  • $169 Huawei 4G B525 Modem upfront cost

min. cost $248.90 for the first month

500GBMax Data**/billing period $79.90Advertised Cost^^/billing period
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Spintel Wireless Broadband Plans

The following table shows a selection of published Spintel wireless 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.

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

Basic Home Wireless Broadband Plan (12Mbps)

  • $145 upfront for NetComm WiFi modem ($20 P&H)
  • $100 account credit

min. cost $764.40 over 12 month plan period

200GBMax Data**/billing period $49.95Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Spintel Logo

Home Wireless Broadband Plan (High Speed 4G)

  • $145 upfront for NetComm WiFi modem ($20 P&H)
  • $100 account credit

min. cost $884.40 over 12 month plan period

200GBMax Data**/billing period $59.95Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Spintel Logo

Home Wireless Broadband (High Speed 4G)

  • $145 upfront for NetComm WiFi modem ($20 P&H)
  • $100 account credit

min. cost $1,064.40 over 12 month plan period

500GBMax Data**/billing period $74.95Advertised Cost^^/billing period
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Exetel Wireless Broadband Plans

The following table shows a selection of published Exetel wireless 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.

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

Home Wireless Broadband month-to-month plan

  • $189 upfront for WiFi modem ($20 P&H)
  • Download speeds up to 12Mbps

min. cost $278.00 for the first month

250GBMax Data**/billing period $69Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Exetel Logo

Home Wireless Broadband 12 month plan

  • $94.50 upfront for WiFi modem ($20 P&H)
  • Download speeds up to 12Mbps

min. cost $942.50 over 12 month plan period

250GBMax Data**/billing period $69Advertised Cost^^/billing period
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Private Networks

If you want the benefits of a fixed-line broadband connection, but still don’t want the NBN, you may be able to access the internet through a private fibre network. These are purpose-built and privately-owned networks that service specific states and postcodes. Examples of private fixed network providers are Spirit, Lightning Broadband and Opticomm, all of which operate in certain locations across Australia.

  • Spirit provides high-speed internet in apartment complexes in east-coast capital cities.
  • Lightning Broadband is available across Australia, but you’ll have to check if plans are offered in your area.
  • Opticomm is available in some housing estates where NBN is not currently connected.

If you’re not won over by the NBN, an independently-operated fibre connection may be worth considering, but be warned: these plans tend to be more expensive than the NBN, given their private status. Speeds may also vary by provider and plan, but if you’re lucky you may be able to access connections that are faster than existing NBN speed tiers.

NBN cables

The bottom line on connecting to the NBN

Some Australians are nervous about making the switch to the NBN, but the good news is it’s NOT compulsory. That said, you’ll need an alternative if you want to keep using the internet at home!

If you are unsure about the NBN, we recommend giving it plenty of thought. It may not be as bad as you think. Also, keep in mind that NBN plans are much more customisable than most existing broadband types, and you’ll be able to tailor your plan with options such as:

  • Service provider (e.g. Telstra, Optus, TPG and iiNet)
  • NBN speed tier (e.g. NBN 12, NBN 25, NBN 50, NBN 100)
  • Contract length (including no-contract)
  • Entertainment extras (e.g. Fetch TV, Netflix, Telstra TV)
  • BYO modem or included hardware

If a move to an NBN plan doesn’t suit you, there are plenty of alternatives, including mobile broadband, home wireless broadband or even private networks if you’re in a location where these options are available. But before turning your back on the NBN, give it some thought and speak to other people in your area to find out how they’re getting on.

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