NBN speed tiers explained

The National Broadband Network (NBN) is set to upgrade Australia’s internet infrastructure, replacing the existing copper wire and hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) networks with much faster fibre optic cable technology. While the NBN is designed to future-proof Australian internet, the rollout hasn’t been without criticism, especially relating to download and upload speeds.

In this review, Canstar Blue explains what the NBN speed tiers really mean and what you need to know to make sure you’re picking the right speed option for your needs. If you’re not clued up on the technologies behind the NBN, you can be forgiven for being confused. Read on for our guide to which speeds are on offer, how providers describe them, and what you can actually expect in the ‘real world’ from your NBN plan.

NBN Speed Tiers

As of June 2020, there are seven main residential NBN speed tiers available, with maximum download and upload speeds measured in Megabits per second (Mbps). Be aware that some internet providers refer to different speed tiers by different names, with some opting to reflect maximum ‘evening speeds’ in line with new standards recommended by the ACCC.

  • NBN 12 – 12/1: 12 Mbps download, 1 Mbps upload. Also known as Basic Evening Speed.
  • NBN 25 – 25/5: 25 Mbps download, 5 Mbps upload. Also known as Standard Evening Speed.
  • NBN 50 – 50/20: 50 Mbps download, 20 Mbps upload. Also known as Standard Plus Evening Speed.
  • NBN 100/20 – 100/20: 100 Mbps download, 20 Mbps upload. A new speed tier, this is sometimes known as Premium Evening Speed, or just NBN 100/20.
  • NBN 100 – 100/40: 100 Mbps download, 40 Mbps upload. Also known as Premium Evening Speed.
  • NBN 250 – 250/25: 250 Mbps download, 25Mbps upload. Also known as Home Superfast.
  • NBN 1000 – 1000/50: 1000 Mbps download, 50 Mbps upload. Also known as Home Ultrafast.

The NBN 12 speed tier will generally deliver similar speeds to what you’d find on most copper connections, with the other speeds looking to handle the workload of larger – or more demanding – homes. As a result, while cost and data considerations are important in your decision-making process, the speed is also an important factor to consider, and may be worth forking over extra for to keep up with your family’s downloading demands.

Unlimited NBN 12 Speed Plans

The cheapest plans available, NBN 12 plans are the closest to your old ADSL connection, meaning they aren’t built for high workloads, and more suited for those who don’t need the latest and greatest, or only occasionally use the internet.

Most NBN 12 plans can be found from around $50 per month, with some up to and over $60. At these low prices you’ll have to watch out for set-up fees, modem fees, lengthy contracts and other costs designed to help make up for the cheap entry price.

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 (excluding discounts), 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 NBN 25 Speed Plans

NBN 25 plans are great for typical usage, including streaming in high definition during peak periods. More competitive than the Basic NBN 12 market, most NBN 25 plans will cost you between $60 to $70 per month, although some brands may advertise bonus offers to entice you. However, it’s best to keep an eye out for any set-up or modem fees at this price point too.

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 (excluding discounts), 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 NBN 50 Speed Plans

NBN 50 is the ‘just right’ speed tier for most families, heavier streamers and anyone wanting to get the most out of their NBN connection, without blowing their monthly budget. Usually at this price there is a lot of competition, with Standard Plus plans often found at similar prices as some NBN 25 plans.

If you’re looking at an NBN 50 plan, the minimum you can expect to pay is around $60 per month, with some plans often going up to $80 monthly or more. Providers may be more willing to shed contracts and set-up fees here, but it still pays to check all fine print before you commit.

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 (excluding discounts), from 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 referral partners.

Unlimited NBN 100 Speed Plans

As the fastest fibre-to-the-node speed tier available to Australians, NBN 100 plans are unsurprisingly the most expensive. The cheapest providers here hover around the $80 mark, but may be worth it if you’re a heavy-duty internet user or part of a large household.

Depending on your choice of provider, you may pay up to or over $100 per month for NBN 100, especially if you bundle in extras such as entertainment and home phone. However, unlimited data NBN plans are pretty standard for NBN 100 plans, and are a great option if you’re looking to beat network congestion during busy periods.

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 (excluding discounts), 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 NBN 250 and NBN 1000 Speed Plans

The very fastest NBN plans are available only to customers with certain compatible NBN connection types, such as fibre-to-the-node and Hybrid Fibre Coaxial connections. As a result, not every provider offers NBN 250 and NBN 1000 plans, and the prices aren’t cheap, so expect to pay upwards of $110 per month.

Most ultra-fast NBN plans include unlimited data, and you do have the option of avoiding a contract with a month-to-month agreement. Keep in mind that these plans aren’t for everyone, but if you do rely heavily on fast internet, live in a large household, or simply have the money to spend, they may be worth checking out.

NBN 1000 Plans Compared

The following table shows selected published NBN 1000 plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of their standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, then alphabetically. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

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

Unlimited NBN Ultrafast

  • NBN 1000/50Mbps speed
  • Optional WiFi hub+ modem for $149 upfront plus $10 P&H
  • Special offer: $105 for the first six months, then $135 ongoing. Terms apply.

min. cost $135 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $135Advertised Data^^/billing period
Kogan Logo

Diamond Unlimited

  • Home Ultrafast Speed (NBN 1000/50)
  • Modem available for $69 upfront

min. cost $139.90 for first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $139.90Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
Superloop logo

Ultrafast 1000/50

  • Ultrafast 1000/50 Speed (NBN 1000)
  • Special offer: $119.95 for the first six months, then $139.95 ongoing. Ends 31/10/21, terms apply.

min. cost $139.95 over one month

3TBMax Data**/billing period $139.95Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
TPG Logo

NBN Home Ultrafast

  • Home Ultrafast Speed (NBN 1000)
  • $0 setup fee on no lock-in contracts
  • Special offer: $114.99 per month for first 6 months, then $144.99 ongoing. Terms apply.

min. cost $144.99 over first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $144.99Advertised Cost^^/billing period

Power House

  • Home Ultrafast Speed (NBN 1000/50)
  • Optional modem from $149 ($15 P&H)
  • Special offer: First month free when you use code ‘FASTMONTH‘ at checkout. Terms apply.

min. cost $149 over first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $149Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
iiNet Logo

NBN1000 Liimitless

  • Home Ultrafast Speed (NBN 1000/50)
  • Special offer: $119.99 for the first six months, then $149.99 ongoing. Terms apply.

min. cost $149.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $149.99Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Internode

NBN1000 Unlimited

  • Home Ultrafast Speed (NBN 1000/50)
  • Special offer: $119.99 for the first six months, then $149.99 ongoing. Terms apply.

min. cost $149.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $149.99Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Telstra Logo

Ultrafast NBN

  • Ultrafast Speed (NBN 1000)
  • Typical evening speed: 250Mbps
  • $216 modem (free when you stay connected for 24 months)
  • Special offer: $99 connection fee waived (online only)
  • Special offer: 3 months free BINGE Standard.
  • Unlimited local, national & mobile calls included

min. cost $4,419 over 24 months

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $180Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

NBN 250 Plans Compared

The following table shows selected published unlimited NBN 250 plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of their standard monthly cost, from lowest to highest, then alphabetically. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

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

elite mates Home Superfast BYO

  • Superfast 250/25 Evening Speed (NBN 250)
  • Special offer: $89 per month for the first 6 months, then $109 per month ongoing. Terms apply, offer available until withdrawn.

min. cost $109 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $109Advertised Cost^^/billing period
iPrimus Logo

NBN 250

  • Home Superfast Speed (NBN 250)
  • $70 setup fee
  • Modem included ($15 P&H)
  • PAYG calls

min. cost $185 over first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $115Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
MyRepublic Logo

Unlimited NBN Superfast

  • NBN 250/25Mbps speed
  • Optional WiFi hub+ modem for $149 upfront plus $10 P&H
  • Special offer: $95 for the first six months, then $115 ongoing. Terms apply.

min. cost $115 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $115Advertised Data^^/billing period
Kogan Logo

Platinum Unlimited

  • Home Superfast Speed (NBN 250/25)
  • Modem available for $69 upfront

min. cost $119.90 for first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $119.90Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
Superloop logo

Unlimited Superfast 250/25

  • Home Superfast Speed (NBN 250/25)
  • Special offer: $99.95 for the first six months, then $119.95 ongoing. Offer expires 31/10/21, terms apply.

min. cost $119.95 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $119.95Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
TPG Logo

NBN Home Superfast

  • Home Superfast Speed (NBN 250)
  • $0 setup fee on no lock-in contracts
  • Special offer: $94.99 per month for first 6 months, then $124.99 ongoing. Terms apply.

min. cost $124.99 over first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $124.99Advertised Cost^^/billing period

Power User

  • Home Superfast Speed (NBN 250/25)
  • Optional modem from $149 ($15 P&H)
  • Special offer: First month free when you use code ‘FASTMONTH‘ at checkout. Terms apply.

min. cost $129 over first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $129Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
Internode

NBN250 Unlimited

  • Home Superfast Speed (NBN 250/25)
  • Special offer: $99.99 for the first six months, then $129.99 ongoing. Terms apply.

min. cost $129.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $129.99Advertised Cost^^/billing period
iiNet Logo

NBN250 Liimitless

  • Home Superfast Speed (NBN 250/25)
  • Special offer: $99.99 for the first six months, then $129.99 ongoing. Terms apply.

min. cost $129.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $129.99Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Telstra Logo

Superfast NBN

  • Superfast Speed (NBN 250)
  • Typical evening speed: 215Mbps
  • $216 modem (free when you stay connected for 24 months)
  • Special offer: $99 connection fee waived (online only)
  • Special offer: Get 3 months BINGE standard subscription, terms apply. Offer available until withdrawn.
  • Unlimited local, national & mobile calls included

min. cost $3,459 over 24 months

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $140Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Which NBN speed tier offers the best value?

Choosing a speed tier is almost as much work as choosing a provider, but it’s worth investigating, as you don’t want to be left with slow internet. As a result, which speed tier offers the best value for you will depend on your internet needs, with most households able to use NBN 25 and NBN 50 plans without issues, while others will need at least NBN 100 to avoid problems. It’s also worth considering your connection type, as this might affect which plan you can sign up to, as well as how fast your download speeds are.

However, with the more expensive plans available as a month-by-month service, it may be worth trying different speed tiers from your provider to see which fits best for your household, as you may find the more expensive option worth the money, or that you can get by with a slower speed tier, and save you some money at the same time.

How fast is the NBN?

How fast the NBN will be in your household will depend on a variety of factors, such as your provider, your speed tier, your connection type, the time of day and how many devices are connected to the internet at the one time. To help you get an idea of how fast the NBN is, check out the NBN download speeds for each speed tier below.

Download NBN 12 NBN 25 NBN 50 NBN 100 NBN 250 NBN 1000
Music album (approx. 100mb) 1 min 35 secs 18 secs 9 secs 4 secs 1 sec
TV episode (approx. 1GB) 12 mins >6 mins 3 mins 1 ½ mins 35 secs 9 secs
HD movie (approx. 5GB) 1 hour 30 mins 15 mins 8 mins 3 mins 50 secs
Game download/update (approx. 50GB) 10 hours 5 hours 2 ½ hours 1 ¼ hour <30 mins <9 mins

All times are approximate and are dependent on your internet provider, connection, plan and time of day.

NBN Evening Speeds explained

Despite the ACCC cracking down on providers who mislead users about promised speeds, there’ll be times when your internet speeds are much slower than what you’d expect, and are generally the result of everyone jumping online at the same time – which has given rise to the term ‘evening speeds’.

Evening speeds is the term given to the slowdown in internet speeds between 7pm and 11pm – when everyone is jumping online after a hard day’s work – and is now what most providers generally advertise their speed tiers as. Between 7pm and 11pm is also considered ‘peak times’, meaning that there’s a lot more people online than throughout the day, and as a result, you’ll often experience a slowdown in your internet, with your 100/40Mbps plan (roughly) going down to 80/30Mbps during these times. Below are some rough examples of what each NBN speed tier might be during peak times.

NBN Plan Maximum Speed Evening Speed (approximate)
NBN 12 12Mbps 7-8Mbps
NBN 25 25Mbps 15-18Mbps
NBN 50 50Mbps 40Mbps
NBN 100 100Mbps 80Mbps
NBN 250 250Mbps 200Mbps
NBN 1000 1000Mbps 250Mbps

While peak times will affect your NBN speed, other factors such as the distance between your house and the telco exchange, the quality of your modem or router, as well as how much bandwidth your NBN provider has available will also influence your internet speeds.

What different providers call their NBN plans

With the ACCC crackdown on NBN speed advertising, many providers have been reluctant to blatantly advertise the speed tiers of their plans. Instead, they opt for labels like ‘Basic’, ‘Boost’ and ‘Performance’, or use terms such as ‘typical evening speed’ to describe how fast your connection may be.

Despite the inconsistencies and jargon, there’s still only four speeds of NBN offered by providers – all that changes between telcos is the wording used. Below is a brief overview of how some top providers label their plans, keeping in mind that their actual ‘evening speeds’ may differ:

Provider Speed Tier (Maximum Speeds in Mbps) Plan Speed Label
iiNet 12/1 NBN12
50/20 NBN50
100/40 NBN100
Dodo 25/5 nbn25
50/20 nbn50
100/20 nbn100
Optus 50/20 Standard Plus Speed
100/20 Premium Speed
TPG 12/1 NBN 12
25/5 NBN 25
50/20 NBN 50
100/20 NBN 100
Telstra
25/5 Standard Evening Speed
50/20 Standard Plus Evening Speed
100/40 Premium Evening Speed

(Source: Respective Company Websites)

Note that your provider may offer a different variety of speed tiers, and use different terminology to describe each plan. However, the general theme is that slower speeds are labelled things like ‘Basic’, middle speed tiers ‘Standard’, and the top speed tier labelled ‘Max’, ‘Supercharged’, or similar.

Which NBN speed do I need?

Which NBN speed you should sign up to will ultimately depend on your household’s internet usage, as well as how much you’re willing to spend. Smaller households may find a slower speed tier such as NBN 25 or NBN 12 gets the job done without breaking the bank, while larger households – or those with more intensive internet usage – may need at an NBN 50 or NBN 100 plan to keep the peace.

An internet connection is not really an area that you want to short change yourself, as slow internet speeds can quickly ruin the movie you’re streaming, or your social media scrolling. That being said, with so many providers available, you should always shop around to ensure that you’re getting the best deal, as you may find that jumping up to the next speed tier isn’t as costly as you may think.

Compare NBN Providers

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