How to test and benchmark your NBN speeds

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The NBN is fast rolling out across the country, and if you haven’t been connected yet then you’ll probably be online before you know it. Since the National Broadband Network has become such a hot topic lately, extra scrutiny has been placed on the speeds offered, and whether customers can actually reach those advertised speeds.

In late 2017, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) began to crack down and even fine the major telcos for their allegedly misleading NBN speed claims. Since then, however, telcos have begun advertising what’s called ‘evening speeds’. With so much jargon and a lot of terminology flying around, what means what, and what internet speeds can you expect? Read on to find out.

NBN Internet Speeds

You’ll probably know that there are four NBN speed ‘tiers’ available. However, what you may not know is that the way speeds are advertised has changed recently. Below is a short brief on what the company responsible for rolling out the NBN – creatively named NBN Co – calls the speeds.

  • Tier 1 – Basic – Maximum download speed of 12Mbps
  • Tier 2 – Standard – Maximum download speed of 25Mbps
  • Tier 3 – Standard Plus – Maximum download speed of 50Mbps
  • Tier 4 – Premium – Maximum download speed of 100Mbps

Away from the NBN is good old ADSL. If you’re still connected to ADSL, the fastest speed you can hope you achieve is 24Mbps, and that’s for ADSL2+. For simple ADSL the fastest you can expect to achieve is 8Mbps.

It’s all well and good knowing what the NBN speed tiers are called at a wholesale level, but what do the NBN providers actually call their speed tiers? And how are you supposed to know which is best for you?

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NBN Speed Tier Names & Plans

The way telcos describe their NBN speed tiers is sometimes different to how they are described at the wholesale level. Expect ‘clever’ marketing language like ‘Turbo’ or ‘Supercharged’, for example. Below are a few providers and what terms they use to describe their NBN speeds.

Exetel NBN Speeds

Exetel is one of the relatively few telcos that keeps it simple – Basic, Standard Plus and Premium are the three labels used to describe its three speed tiers on offer. Plans with unlimited data start at under $60 a month, while top tier plans with unlimited data start at under $90.

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

NBN Basic Unlimited (12 month contract)

  • NBN Basic Evening Speed (NBN12/1)
  • $20 Upfront

min. cost $679.88 over 12 months

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $54.99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Exetel

NBN Standard Plus Unlimited (12 month contract)

  • NBN Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN50/20)
  • $20 Upfront

min. cost $739.88 over 12 months

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $59.99Advertised Data^^/billing period More Details
Exetel

NBN Premium Unlimited (12 month contract)

  • NBN Premium Evening Speed (NBN100/40)
  • $20 Upfront

min. cost $1099.88 over 12 months

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $89.99Advertised Data^^/billing period More Details

iiNet NBN Speeds

iiNet is another telco that keeps it dead simple, describing its NBN speed tiers as Basic, Standard Plus and Premium. Unlimited data starts at $70 a month, and those willing to sign up for 24 months get a Fetch bundle included. Top tier unlimited NBN costs just less than $100 a month.

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

NBN12 Liimitless

  • Basic 12/1 speed
  • Fetch included

min. cost $1,679.76 over 24 months

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $69.99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
iiNet Logo

NBN50 Liimitless

  • Standard Plus 50/20 speed
  • Fetch included

min. cost $1,919.76 over 24 months

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $79.99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
iiNet Logo

NBN100 Liimitless

  • Premium 100/40 speed
  • Fetch included

min. cost $2,399.76 over 24 months

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $99.99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Telstra NBN Speeds

Telstra has a fairly simple approach to NBN plans, with four plans on offer as well as two ‘Casual’ plans on a month-to-month basis. Telstra simply avoids any representation of speeds, adhering to what NBN Co calls them – with the ‘Standard Plus’ speed tier coming as standard on both unlimited plans. A speed upgrade costs $30 extra a month. With these unlimited plans customers get access to Foxtel Now packs and more.

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

Essential

  • Standard 25/5 Speed
  • $99 connection fee for new customers
  • Unlimited local, national & mobile calls included

min. cost $1,755 over 24 months

100GB Max Data**/billing period $69Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Unlimited

  • Standard Plus 50/20 Speed
  • $99 connection fee for new customers
  • Unlimited local, national & mobile calls included

min. cost $2,235 over 24 months

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $89Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Unlimited + Streaming

  • Standard Plus 50/20 Speed
  • $99 connection fee for new customers
  • Unlimited local, national & mobile calls included
  • Telstra TV & 24 Months Foxtel Now included

min. cost $2,475 over billing period

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Vodafone NBN Speeds

Vodafone NBN operates across three speed tiers – Standard, Standard Plus and Premium. Vodafone calls these speeds Essential, Essential+ and Premium. Pretty easy to remember, right? Prices start from under $70 a month and all plans are notably month-to-month. However, the Vodafone Wi-Fi Hub is technically on a 36-month contract; you pay $180 upfront and every month you receive a $5 credit on your bill.

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

Unlimited NBN Plan (no contract)

  • NBN Standard Evening Speed
  • $150 Upfront

min. cost $219 for first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $69Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Vodafone Logo

Unlimited NBN Plan (no contract)

  • NBN Standard Plus Evening Speed
  • $150 Upfront

min. cost $229 for first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $79Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Vodafone Logo

Unlimited NBN Plan (no contract)

  • NBN Premium Evening Speed
  • $150 Upfront

min. cost $249 for first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site

 TPG NBN Speeds

TPG has quite a large array of NBN plans across three speed tiers – Basic, Standard Plus and Premium. TPG calls these speed tiers a rather descriptive ‘NBN 12’, ‘NBN 50’ and ‘NBN 100’, respectively. TPG used to call its speed tiers fun terms like ‘Superfast’ and so on – but no more. Unlimited data starts at about $60 a month, while the top speed tier with unlimited data starts at about $90 a month.

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

NBN12 SL

  • Basic 12/1 Speed
  • $99.95 setup fee on no lock-in contracts
  • 3 Months free TPG Mobile on 18 month contracts

min. cost $1,109.82 over 18 months

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $59.99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
TPG Logo

NBN50 SL

  • Standard Plus 50/20 Speed
  • $99.95 setup fee on no lock-in contracts
  • 3 Months free TPG Mobile on 18 month contracts

min. cost $1,289.82 over 18 months

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $69.99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
TPG Logo

NBN100 SL

  • Premium 100/40 Speed
  • $99.95 setup fee on no lock-in contracts
  • 3 Months free TPG Mobile on 18 month contracts

min. cost $1,649.82 over 18 months

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $89.99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

 Internode NBN Speeds

Internode bucks the trend and uses a slightly different approach to its NBN plans. Plans are called ‘Bronze’, ‘Gold’ and ‘Platinum’, describing 12Mbps, 50Mbps and 100Mbps speed tiers respectively. Internode previously had a ‘Standard’ speed tier – no guesses as to what it was called. Plans start at about $70 for unlimited data, with no lock-in contract as standard, attracting a $99 setup fee.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Internode

NBN Bronze Unlimited

  • NBN Basic Evening Speed (NBN12/1)
  • $15 Upfront

min. cost $1,694.76 over 24 months

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $69.99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Internode

NBN Gold Unlimited

  • NBN Standard Plus Evening Speed(NBN50/20)
  • $15 Upfront

min. cost $1,934.76 over 24 months

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $79.99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Internode

NBN Platinum Unlimited

  • NBN Premium Evening Speed(NBN100/40)
  • $15 Upfront

min. cost $2,414.76 over 24 months

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $99.99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site

MyRepublic NBN Speeds

MyRepublic operates across just two speed tiers – Standard Plus and Premium. MyRepublic calls these two speed tiers ‘Essential’ and ‘Premium’. Prices start from about $70 a month and all plans come with unlimited data. Users have the option of a one month, 12-month or 24-month contract, with cheaper modem prices the longer you sign up.

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

Unlimited Essential plan

  • Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN50)
  • $1 Upfront

min. cost $1,680.76 over 24 months

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $69.99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
MyRepublic Logo

Unlimited Premium plan

  • Premium Evening Speed(NBN100/40)
  • $1 Upfront

min. cost $2,040.76 over 24 months

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $84.99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site

Start NBN Speeds

Start is a telco that gives back and supplies internet to those on the fringes of society. Unlimited data starts from $75 a month. The speed tiers available are Standard, Standard Plus and Premium. Start tends to offer a free speed boost from Basic to Standard, and this tier is called ‘Quick’. The Standard Plus NBN plan is called ‘Faster’, while the Premium plan is called ‘As Fast as It Gets’.

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

Faster Unlimited Plan

  • NBN 12 speed

min. cost $75 on no lock-in contract

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $75Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Start Logo

Faster Unlimited Plan

  • NBN 50 speed

min. cost $80 on no lock-in contract

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $80Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Start Logo

Faster Unlimited Plan

  • NBN 100 speed

min. cost $$95 on no lock-in contract

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $95Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site

Optus NBN Speeds

Optus, for such a large telco, has a fairly concise range of NBN plans. Rather than indicate speed, its plans come on the Standard Plus speed tier by default, with an optional NBN 100 upgrade available for $30 per month. It has two base plans: the 70 Plan features unlimited data and PAYG calls, while the 90 Plan includes Fetch TV, Optus Sport, and unlimited landlines and mobile calls to standard Australian numbers.

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

70 Plan

  • Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN 50)
  • $99 upfront fee

min. cost $1,779 over 24 months

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

90 Plan

  • Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN 50)
  • $99 upfront fee
  • Includes Fetch TV + channel pack and Optus Sport

min. cost $2,259 over 24 months

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $90Advertised Data^^/billing period

Kogan NBN Speeds

Kogan is another NBN provider using precious metals to describe its plans. Speed tiers are Standard, Standard Plus and Premium – labelled ‘Bronze’, ‘Silver’ and ‘Gold’ respectively. All plans come with unlimited data and no lock-in contracts. There are no setup or activation fees but a Kogan-supplied modem does cost $69; you can supply your own at no charge, however.

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

Bronze Unlimited

  • NBN 25 speed
  • $69 Upfront for modem

min. cost $63.90 for first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $63.90Advertised Data^^/billing period
Kogan Logo

Silver Unlimited

  • NBN 50 speed
  • $69 Upfront for modem

min. cost $68.90 for first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $68.90Advertised Data^^/billing period
Kogan Logo

Gold Unlimited

  • NBN 100 speed
  • $69 Upfront for modem

min. cost $88.90 for first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $88.90Advertised Data^^/billing period

NBN Evening Speeds Compared

You’ve probably heard the term – but what does ‘evening speed’ actually refer to? ‘Evening speed’ is a relatively new designation that is supposed to give a more realistic representation about the maximum NBN speeds you can expect to achieve in peak periods.

  • Peak periods are from 7pm to 11pm and frequently experience maximum speed slowdown of around 20% or more.
  • Top-flight NBN 100 plans can be reduced to 80Mbps or worse in peak periods.

The good news, however, is that telcos do seem to be doing better to curb peak period slowdown, and over time speeds do seem to be improving. Nevertheless, here is what you can expect with some of the telcos’ evening speeds, noting that not all providers advertise their evening speeds:

Provider NBN Speed Tier Evening Download Speed
Exetel Basic (NBN 12) 11Mbps
Standard Plus (NBN 50) 43Mbps
Premium (NBN 100) 83Mbps
iiNet Basic (NBN 12) 9.9Mbps
Standard Plus (NBN 50) 44.5Mbps
Premium (NBN 100) 80.4Mbps
Internode Basic (NBN 12) 10.3Mbps
Standard Plus (NBN 50) 44.1Mbps
Premium (NBN 100) 77.1Mbps
Start Standard (NBN 25) 23Mbps
Standard Plus (NBN 50) 45Mbps
Premium (NBN 100) 80Mbps
TPG Basic (NBN 12) 10.9Mbps
Standard Plus (NBN 50) 44.5Mbps
Premium (NBN 100) 78.8Mbps
Optus Standard Plus (NBN 50) 40Mbps
Premium (NBN 100) 80Mbps
Telstra Standard (NBN 25) 20Mbps
Standard Plus (NBN 50) 40Mbps
Premium (NBN 100) 80Mbps

Source: Respective providers websites, correct as of November 2018

Marketing is one thing – but which provider actually delivers the fastest NBN speeds?

It’s all well and good placing trust in the provider to accurately represent their max evening speeds, but what are you actually going to get in the real world? The ACCC in late 2018 released its third report on the state of telco services and the speeds of their NBN plans. The ACCC found that in peak periods (7pm to 11pm):

  • TPG performed at 88.4% of its maximum plan speed
  • Aussie Broadband performed at 85.4% of its maximum plan speed
  • iiNet performed at 84.8% of its maximum plan speed
  • Optus performed at 84% of its maximum plan speed
  • Telstra performed at 83.5% of its maximum plan speed
  • MyRepublic performed at 82.1% of its maximum plan speed

This in effect means that out of the ‘big four’ providers, TPG was technically rated ‘the best’, as its plans were more likely to achieve their maximum speeds. That is to say, on a 100Mbps max speed NBN plan, TPG’s plans were performing at 88Mbps – or roughly 88%.

  • Smaller telcos such as Aussie Broadband, which limits subscription uptake to maintain maximum speeds, may be worth a look into.

While this is a generally guide only, it does serve those looking for a new provider a benchmark on which to base the large telcos on.

How to do an NBN Speed Test

speedometer-internet-speed-300-mb

If you’re starting to question the quality of your internet service, running a speed test can be a good way to get an indicator about how good – or bad – your internet is. However, there are a few caveats:

  • Running your speed test over Wi-Fi will almost never produce as good a result as if you have your computer hooked up to an ethernet cable, plugged into the wall.
  • Other people using the internet at the same time as when you run your speed test can heavily skew results.
  • VPNs can affect overall speed due to routing traffic through a foreign country or location far away from your home.

Other factors such as your choice of server can also impact test results. Also note that some providers may even be able to detect you’re running a speed test and prioritise bandwidth to you, which may not give an accurate representation of what speeds you actually experience!

  • net, ozspeedtest.com, fast.com and many other sites provide free, safe speed tests that also provide other data such as how your speeds rank against others.

All in all, running a speed test is a very simple process and can give an insightful look into how your internet is performing.

My internet is terrible – what can I do?

The first port of call if your internet speeds are woeful is to contact the provider. If you go through an official complaints process, your telco rightfully can ask you to do a few things to verify your claims:

  • You may have to provide speed tests at many times throughout the day, such as in the morning, at midday, in peak periods and even later at night.
  • You may have to do this over several days to satisfy your telco.

If after you’ve jumped through several hoops, and you’re still unhappy, you can refer your complaint to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO). Note, that this is usually the last resort. Successful complaints can result in breaking of contract with no penalty, speed downgrades at no penalty, refunding of monthly fees and so on.

Is Your Internet up to Speed?

NBN and internet speeds have been under the microscope lately, and it’s tempting to panic and do something drastic. However, the good news is that NBN speeds are generally improving among the big telcos over time. Telcos tempering expectations has also stemmed a hefty rise in complaints seen in late 2017 and early 2018.

With that said, getting optimal internet speeds can also be belied to the customer. Choosing the right plan for you comes down to more than just choosing the cheapest one. Additionally, if you suspect your internet speed isn’t up to scratch, you can raise it with your telco and run a series of speed tests just to confirm. With internet being a hot topic lately, you can wade in by making sure your own internet is up to the task first.

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