Mobile Broadband vs Home Wireless

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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, meaning 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.

Using internet dongle in laptop
Mobile broadband is most commonly used with internet dongles that plug into laptops or other devices.
Home wireless modem plugged into 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

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

  • $79 upfront 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

  • $79 upfront WiFi modem
  • Optus 4G wireless broadband network

min. cost $1,759 over 24 month plan period

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

Tangerine Wireless Broadband Plans

The following table shows a selection of published Tangerine 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
Tangerine Logo

200GB Plan

  • Optus 4G Plus Network coverage
  • Optional modem from $259.90 upfront
  • Special offer: $59.90 per month for first 6 months, then $69.90 ongoing

min. cost $59.90 over first month

200GBMax Data**/billing period $69.90Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
Tangerine Logo

500GB Plan

  • Optus 4G Plus Network coverage
  • Optional modem from $259.90 upfront
  • Special offer: $69.90 per month for first 6 months, then $79.90 ongoing

min. cost $69.90 over first month

500GBMax Data**/billing period $79.90Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
Tangerine Logo

1000GB Plan

  • Optus 4G Plus Network coverage
  • Optional modem from $259.90 upfront
  • Special offer: $89.90 per month for first 6 months, then $99.90 ongoing

min. cost $99.90 over first month

1000GBMax Data**/billing period $99.90Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Optus 4G Home Internet Plans

The following table shows a selection of published 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 Lite 200GB (24 Months)

  • Includes: B818 Modem
  • Cost of 1MB included data is $0.0003
  • Available in selected areas

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

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

4G Home Internet Lite 200GB (Month-to-Month)

  • $216 upfront modem cost for B818 Modem
  • Cost of 1MB included data is $0.0003
  • Available in selected areas

min. cost $281 (incl. $216 modem cost) over 1 month plan period

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

4G Home Internet Everyday 500GB (24 Month)

  • Includes: B818 Modem
  • Cost of 1MB included data is $0.0002
  • Available in selected areas

min. cost $1,800 over 24 month plan period

500GBMax Data**/billing period $75Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Optus Logo

4G Home Internet Everyday 500GB (Month-to-Month)

  • $216 upfront modem cost for B818 Modem
  • Cost of 1MB included data is $0.0002
  • Available in selected areas

min. cost $291 (incl. $216 modem cost) over 1 month plan period

500GBMax Data**/billing period $75Advertised 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

  • $179 4G LTE Gateway upfront cost

min. cost $238.90 for the first month

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

Home Wireless Broadband Plan

  • $179 4G LTE Gateway upfront cost

min. cost $258.90 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)

  • $179 upfront for NetComm WiFi modem ($20 P&H)
  • $100 account credit

min. cost $798.40 over 12 month plan period

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

Home Wireless Broadband Plan (High Speed 4G)

  • $179 upfront for NetComm WiFi modem ($20 P&H)
  • $100 account credit

min. cost $918.40 over 12 month plan period

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

Home Wireless Broadband (High Speed 4G)

  • $179 upfront for NetComm WiFi modem ($20 P&H)
  • $100 account credit

min. cost $1,038.40 over 12 month plan period

500GBMax Data**/billing period $69.95Advertised Cost^^/billing period
View all NBN 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

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
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
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
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
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
  • Special offer: 10GB bonus data. Terms apply. Offer expires 28/01/21.

min. cost $20 over first month

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

40GB Mobile Broadband Plan

  • SIM Only plan
  • Special offer: 20GB bonus data. Terms apply. Offer expires 28/01/21.

min. cost $40 over first month

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

100GB Mobile Broadband Plan

  • SIM Only plan
  • Special offer: 50GB bonus data. Terms apply. Offer expires 28/01/21.

min. cost $60 over first month

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

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

Mobile Broadband Plans Compared

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
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
Vodafone Logo

100GB Mobile Broadband Plan

  • SIM Only plan
  • Special offer: 50GB bonus data. Terms apply. Offer expires 28/01/21.

min. cost $60 over first month

100GBMax Data**/billing period $60Advertised 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 Go To Site
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
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.

You can check out 5G plans for mobile broadband and home wireless in the table below. Currently, Telstra offers 5G access only on its Medium and Large mobile broadband plans, provided you have a 5G-compatible device (such as the Telstra 5G WiFi Pro) and no home wireless broadband services.

Optus recently launched unlimited 5G home broadband, offering both a plan with unrestricted speeds and a cheaper option limited to just 100Mbps. You can also access the Optus 5G network through partner MVNO SpinTel, which has launched a single unlimited-data 5G home wireless plan.

Again, keep in mind that 5G plans need dedicated hardware, as 4G-focused technology can’t access 5G signals. To compare 5G broadband plans, see the below tables.

5G Home Wireless Plans

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
Spintel Logo

Spintel 5G Home Wireless Contract

  • Average speed of 147Mbps
  • 50Mbps satisfaction guarantee
  • Nokia 5G modem included
  • Special offer: $60 per month for first 6 months ($70 per month ongoing)

min. cost $1,460 over 24 months

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $70Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Spintel Logo

Spintel 5G Home Wireless No Contract

  • Average speed of 147Mbps
  • 50Mbps satisfaction guarantee
  • Nokia 5G modem included

min. cost $90 over first month

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

Optus 5G Internet Everyday

  • Speed capped at 100Mbps
  • 50Mbps satisfaction guarantee
  • Includes the Optus supplied Nokia modem
  • Special offer: one month free

min. cost $75 over first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $75Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Optus Logo

Optus 5G Internet Entertainer

  • No speed cap
  • 50Mbps satisfaction guarantee
  • Includes the Optus supplied Nokia modem
  • Special offer: one month free

min. cost $90 over first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $90Advertised Cost^^/billing period
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

5G Mobile Broadband Plans

The following table shows a selection of published 5G mobile broadband plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of their 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

Medium

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

min. cost $50 over one month

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

Large

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

min. cost $75 over one month

200GBMax Data**/billing period $75Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Is 4G better than the NBN?

As of late 2020, 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.

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