Young woman holding tablet and coffee

Mobile Broadband vs Home Wireless

Contrary to what you might hear, the NBN is not the be-all-and-end-all of Australian internet. Not everyone needs or wants to sign up to the National Broadband Network (NBN) for various reasons and if you’re one of them, there are several other options out there to get you online.

Two of your best picks would be home wireless broadband and mobile broadband, which are types of internet connections that use wireless 3G, 4G and in some cases 5G signals to get you on the web. Both are similar and use the same mobile networks to connect you to the internet, but how do they compare to each other? Read on to find out.

Mobile Broadband vs Home Wireless: The key points

  • They both use mobile networks to get you online
  • Both involve inserting a SIM card into a compatible device
  • Home wireless is delivered solely via a dedicated modem
  • Mobile broadband can be used in various devices
  • Your home wireless modem will need to be plugged into the wall
  • Mobile broadband is definitely more ‘mobile’ because you can charge and take your tablet or device anywhere

What’s the difference between home wireless and mobile broadband?

Home wireless broadband is intended to be a non-portable, in-home solution for getting onto the internet. While you can technically take the modem with you on your travels, provided you have a power source to plug the device into and good mobile network coverage, it’s designed to function more as a home wireless connection that can support multiple devices at once.

In comparison, mobile broadband is very portable, and can be used through a dongle, portable modem, or as a SIM card inserted in your phone or tablet.

Both types of broadband offer virtually the same speeds when on the same mobile network, but have different applications. Flexibility of contracts varies from plan-to-plan between internet types.

You might use home wireless broadband in your home if you can’t access the NBN or just want a wireless alternative to fixed line internet, whereas mobile broadband can be a good solution if you want a data-only device plan, or reliable internet on the go.

A wireless modem plugged into a wall
Home wireless broadband uses a SIM card inside a stationary modem plugged into a power socket.

Is home wireless more expensive than mobile broadband?

Generally, home wireless broadband is more expensive than mobile broadband, but that’s only because the scope is different between the two technologies. You’ll find that home wireless plans cost between $50 and $100 per month, while mobile broadband plans cost anywhere between $15 and $75. If you’d like to compare the two types of internet, check out the table below to see home wireless plans.

Home Wireless Plans

iiNet Wireless Broadband Plans

The following table shows a selection of published iiNet home wireless broadband plans from Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of their standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

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

Home Wireless Broadband Liimitless Plan

  • Up to 20Mbps speed
  • $0 set up fees and no lock-in contract
  • $0 premium WiFi modem
  • Special offer: one month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $59.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $59.99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go to Site
View all internet plans listed on Canstar Blue

TPG Wireless Broadband Plans

The following table shows a selection of published TPG home wireless broadband plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

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

Home Wireless Broadband Unlimited Plan

  • Up to 20Mbps speeds
  • $0 setup fee with no lock-in contract
  • $0 home wireless modem
  • Special offer: First month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $54.99 over first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $54.99Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
View all internet plans listed on Canstar Blue

Optus 4G Home Internet Plans

The following table shows a selection of Optus 4G 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. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

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

4G Home Internet Unlimited (24 Month)

  • Speed capped at 25Mbps download, 2Mbps upload
  • Includes: WiFi modem
  • Available in selected areas
  • Special offer: first month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $1,357 over 24 month plan period

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $59Advertised Cost^^/billing period Link to provider unavailable
Optus Logo

4G Home Internet Unlimited (Month-to-Month)

  • Speed capped at 25Mbps download, 2Mbps upload
  • $216 upfront modem cost for WiFi Modem
  • Available in selected areas
  • Special offer: first month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $275 (incl. $216 modem cost) over first month plan period

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $59Advertised Cost^^/billing period Link to provider unavailable
View all internet plans listed on Canstar Blue

Vodafone 4G Home Internet Plans

The following table shows a selection of published Vodafone 4G home 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
Vodafone Logo

4G Home Internet Plan

  • $10 per month discount for existing Vodafone customers
  • Unlimited data at max sped of 20Mbps
  • $0 modem when you stay connected for 24 months
  • Special offer: First month plan fees free, offer expires 31/01/23. Terms apply.

min. cost $240 over first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $60Advertised Cost^^/billing period Link to provider unavailable
View all internet plans listed on Canstar Blue

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 Unlimited M2M

  • $210 upfront WiFi modem
  • Optus 4G wireless broadband network

min. cost $270 over first month plan period

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $60Advertised Cost^^/billing period Link to provider unavailable
Southern Phones Logo

Home Wireless Unlimited 24M

  • Included WiFi modem
  • Optus 4G wireless broadband network

min. cost $1,440 over 24 month plan period

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $60Advertised Cost^^/billing period Link to provider unavailable
View all internet plans listed on Canstar Blue

Mobile Broadband Plans

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

Small

  • 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 $25 over one month

30GBMax Data**/billing period $25Advertised Cost^^/billing period
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 $58 over one month

75GBMax Data**/billing period $58Advertised Cost^^/billing period
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 $90 over one month

400GBMax Data**/billing period $90Advertised Cost^^/billing period
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

Small Data SIM Only Plan

  • SIM only plan
  • No excess data charges for use in Australia

min. cost $20 over first month

30GBMax Data**/billing period $20Advertised Cost^^/billing period Link to provider unavailable
Vodafone Logo

Large Data SIM Only Plan

  • SIM only plan
  • No excess data charges for use in Australia

min. cost $40 over first month

70GBMax Data**/billing period $40Advertised 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
Amaysim Logo

Sim Only 50GB

  • SIM Only

min. cost $40 over 28 day billing period

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

Sim Only 90GB

  • SIM Only

min. cost $60 over 28 day billing period

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

Small

  • SIM Only

min. cost $300 over 12 month plan period

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

Medium

  • SIM Only

min. cost $480 over 12 month plan period

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

Large

  • SIM Only

min. cost $780 over 12 month plan period

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

Mobile Broadband vs Home Wireless: A summary

Mobile Broadband Home Wireless

Price range

$15 – $75/mth

$50 – $100/mth

Power point required?

Modem required?

Portable?

1000GB data

5G options?

General guide only

Essentially, the big difference between mobile broadband and home wireless broadband is that the former is portable and the latter is more for use in the home or non-portable setting. This is countered by the fact that mobile broadband typically has less data than home wireless broadband plans, and overall is less of an NBN replacement.

Is 5G an NBN replacement?

5G is the new wireless technology being rolled out across Australia and other developed parts of the world, set to replace 4G. It’s a lot faster than 3G and 4G, and in a lot of ways can rival the NBN, with some providers now offering 5G network access on selected home wireless broadband and mobile broadband plans. While 5G coverage can theoretically reach speeds of more than a gigabit per second, real-world performance is usually in the 200Mbps-300Mbps area on broadband plans.

If you’re weighing up the two, remember that the NBN does offer faster speeds on its highest tiers (up to 1000Mbps on gigabit-speed plans) and at this time, Telstra, Optus and Vodafone 5G networks are still being rolled out across Australia. However, ultra-fast NBN plans are on the expensive side, and aren’t available to all homes and connection types. Keep in mind that 5G plans need dedicated hardware, as 4G-focused technology can’t access 5G signals, so you’ll need to upgrade to a 5G-capable modem on these plans.

You can check out 5G plans for home wireless broadband in the table below. 5G home internet is now offered by many of the biggest providers in Australia, including Telstra, Optus, TPG, Vodafone, and iiNet, and most plans  also include unlimited data. Telcos may also give customers the choice of a cheaper 5G internet plan with speeds capped at 100Mbps — we’ve separated those plans from the full-speed options so you can easily compare prices.

The following table shows selected published 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
Telstra Logo

5G Home Internet

  • 5G speeds
  • Speeds capped at 25Mbps after 1TB allowance exceeded
  • Includes Telstra 5G Home Modem ($0 when you stay connected for 24 months)
  • Special offer: first month free for new customers. Terms apply.

min. cost $85 over one month

1TBMax Data**/billing period $85Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Optus Logo

Optus Plus Entertainer Superfast 5G

  • 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
  • Includes standard Netflix subscription via SubHub
  • 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 $99Advertised Cost^^/billing period Link to provider unavailable
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

The following table shows selected published 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
TPG Logo

5G Home Broadband Plus

  • Up to 50Mbps speeds
  • $0 setup fee with no lock-in contract
  • $0 modem when you stay connected for 36 months
  • Special offer: First month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $59.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $59.99Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
iiNet Logo

Home Broadband Plus

  • Up to 50Mbps speeds
  • $0 set up fees and no lock-in contract
  • $0 5G modem
  • Special offer: one month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $59.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $59.99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go to Site
Vodafone Logo

Ultimate 5G Home Broadband Plus

  • $60 per month for existing Vodafone customers
  • Up to 50Mbps speeds
  • $0 setup fee with no lock-in contract
  • $0 modem when you stay connected for 36 months
  • Special offer: First month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $65 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $65Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
TPG Logo

5G Home Broadband Premium

  • Up to 100Mbps speeds
  • $0 setup fee with no lock-in contract
  • $0 modem when you stay connected for 36 months
  • Special offer: First month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $64.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $64.99Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
iiNet Logo

Home Broadband Premium

  • Up to 100Mbps speeds
  • $0 set up fees and no lock-in contract
  • $0 5G modem
  • Special offer: one month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $69.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $69.99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go to Site
Vodafone Logo

Premium 5G Home Broadband

  • $65 per month for existing Vodafone customers
  • Up to 100Mbps speeds
  • $0 setup fee with no lock-in contract
  • $0 modem when you stay connected for 36 months
  • Special offer: First month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $70 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $70Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Optus Logo

Optus Plus Everyday Fast 5G

  • 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
Spintel Logo

SpinTel 5G Unlimited

  • Up to 250Mbps speeds
  • Nokia 5G modem available

min. cost $89 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $89Advertised Cost^^/billing period
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Is 4G better than the NBN?

As of 2022, 4G is still the main network used by home wireless and mobile broadband plans, and unfortunately it’s not as good as the NBN in some respects. While it can be used anywhere your provider offers network coverage — and doesn’t require a wired connection — it’s not as consistently fast as most fixed-line NBN plans.

Although 4G connections can theoretically reach download speeds up to 100Mbps, it’s more reasonable to expect speeds around 12Mbps to 50Mbps. 4G speeds and experiences will also differ, depending on the telco that owns the network (be it Telstra, Vodafone or Optus), your location, plus other factors such as network congestion.

When 5G mobile and home wireless broadband becomes more widely available, it may prove to be a serious contender to the NBN. But for now, mobile broadband and home wireless act as complementary internet options, rather than ‘NBN killers’ and exist as convenient and flexible alternatives for when NBN isn’t your best option.

Emma Bradstock
Telco Specialist
Emma Bradstock has been an authority on consumer phone, internet, technology and streaming markets in Australia for over 5 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Media from Macquarie University and has over a decade of professional writing experience in print and digital media.

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