If you’ve been following our NBN journey, we’ve been through the different NBN connection types and what they mean for you as a customer. Unfortunately, you don’t get much choice in what technology is used to connect your household to the NBN, but you do get to choose a fair bit when it comes to what kind of NBN service you sign up for.
In this week’s article, we’re going to look at the different plan options, including the NBN speed tiers, and the general types of inclusions you can find in NBN plans – data limits or unlimited data, bundled phone services, and bundled entertainment options.
Comparing NBN plans can be tricky, but in some ways, it’s a lot easier than it used to be comparing ADSL, Cable, 4G and other plans.
For starters, even though you’re comparing different connection types, the NBN treats them (mostly) the same – you can order the same speed tiers whether you’re connected by fibre, cable, or FTTN/FTTC. You can get the same inclusions. Broadly speaking, you can on fixed wireless and satellite too, although the speed options are limited, and at least with satellite, bundled phone services aren’t a great idea.
Compare this to how selecting an internet plan used to be, and it can be a lot easier to understand. All you need to worry about is “Is the NBN available, or is it not”, and then you can go picking a plan.
First up, let’s look at the NBN speed tiers.
NBN Speed Tiers – or, how fast do you like your internet?
NBN services are sold in four main speed tiers – though some providers offer a couple extra. Aussie Broadband, for example, offers 150/100Mbps and 250/100Mbps plans in some locations which are significantly faster than the typical NBN speed tiers.
To keep things easy, and to prevent misleading consumers, NBN plans are sold under these tiers. This allows consumers to easily compare plans across providers, because there’s no confusing use of adjectives to describe plans. Forget turbo speed, ultra speed, super speed – there’s just four things to remember:
- NBN12, or NBN Basic
- NBN25, or NBN Standard
- NBN50, or NBN Standard Plus
- NBN100, or NBN Premium
So now you know the speed tiers, let’s talk about what they offer.
NBN12 (NBN Basic) – Barebone connectivity
|Download speed||Upload speed|
NBN12 (NBN Basic) is a basic internet connection, roughly equivalent to the average speeds you’d get on ADSL2+ today. An NBN12 connection is usually enough for day to day internet usage. It’s not super quick, but it’s enough to do basic web browsing, limited media use and not much else.
NBN12 should be considered for those who really don’t need much from their internet connection. For most other users, we’d recommend NBN25 as the starting place. It is also worth noting that many providers do not sell NBN12 plans anymore, as it doesn’t offer any enhanced experience over ADSL, and that’s what the NBN is meant to do.
NBN25 (NBN Standard) – A great starting point
|Download speed||Upload speed|
NBN25 is where you should be starting for most households. There’s not much you can do online that needs a faster speed than this, but if you have a couple of people online at once, then it might start to slow down a little.
Interestingly, some providers these days are not offering NBN25 anymore due to a change in NBN wholesale pricing. This change makes the next speed tier up (NBN50) a better option for a similar price and we’d recommend the higher tier regardless of who lives at your place
In saying that though, if you don’t really need what NBN50 has to offer and can get NBN25 at a price you are happy with, then it will be fine for your needs
NBN50 (NBN Standard Plus) – An excellent all-rounder
|Download speed||Upload speed|
NBN50 really is the all-rounder of NBN plans. Fast enough to allow multiple users to stream video at once, with great upload speeds for those who like to upload photos or videos of their own. It is also a good upgrade from the ADSL2 speeds that you had before NBN was available.
There’s an awful lot of competition in plans at the NBN50 speed tier too, meaning it’s easy enough to find a good deal that will give you what you’re after.
However, for true speed demons, there’s only one choice – NBN100.
NBN100 (NBN Premium) – For those who need it all
|Download speed||Upload speed|
These plans are the best bet for large households and anyone who regularly downloads or uploads large files. Games will download so much faster and everyone from the kids to grandma can binge different shows on Netflix, all at the same time.
The fast upload speeds also make this a good option for small businesses who may need to share work with clients, or back up business documents to the cloud. If you’re like me – and upload photos regularly – that faster speed will make short work of that activity.
However, the speed is known as Premium for a reason. You tend to pay about $20 to $30 more per month for an NBN100 connection over an NBN50 plan. The maximum speeds are twice as fast, but ask yourself if you’ll make use of them enough to make it worthwhile.
What difference does NBN speed make?
It can make quite a lot depending on what you’re using your internet connection for.
We’ve set out some common download tasks to demonstrate how the speed tiers impact on how long you’ll be waiting for things to complete:
|A music album (approx. 100MB)||1 min||33 sec||16 sec||8 sec|
|Downloading Adobe Photoshop (approx. 1GB)||12 min||6 min||3 min||1.5 min|
|A HD movie on Google Play (approx. 5GB)||59 min||29 min||14 min||7 min|
|A new release PS4 game (approx. 50GB)||10 hours||4 hours, 45 min||2 hours, 20 min||1 hour 10 min|
For day to day tasks, like browsing the web, using emails and so on, download speed doesn’t matter as much – what matters more is latency (how long it takes for data to leave your place, reach the internet, and receive a response) and on those fronts, all speed tiers theoretically offer the same latency, assuming you’re not downloading a huge file at the time.
How much data do you want?
There are two main categories of NBN plan when it comes to data inclusions – those that specify a data inclusion, and those that are marketed as unlimited.
You’d think that would be simple, but it isn’t quite that simple, and unfortunately the marketing around data inclusions is much less transparent than the speed tiers. You see, some plans which specify a data inclusion don’t charge you extra if you go over that limit – they just slow down your internet speed for the rest of the month. On the flip side, some plans marketed as unlimited are constrained by fair usage policies which mean that they aren’t truly unlimited, but may effectively be unlimited for household purposes.
The good thing is that, generally speaking, there’s not a huge price difference between those NBN plans specifying a data inclusion and those that are unlimited. At each speed tier, Aussie Broadband charges $14 more than the lowest data limit plan to have unlimited data, as you can see in this summary table:
|100GB||Not Offered||$55||$65||Not Offered|
You might notice that Aussie Broadband doesn’t offer NBN12 plans anymore. A lot of providers are starting to phase these plans out, preferring to start at NBN25 instead. Why? Because NBN12 plans are so limiting and generally offer a pretty poor experience (when compared to faster NBN plans) that many NBN providers – Aussie Broadband included – just don’t want to offer that kind of experience to their customers.
For reference, NBN12 are generally about $10-15 a month cheaper than the NBN25 summarised above, where they’re offered. However, with many providers offering NBN25 at close to the same price as NBN12, there’s little reason to hold yourself back there.
However, for the speed tiers offered, there’s $14 difference between the lowest inclusion and the top end. For some, there’s a mid-tier offering as well.
For many users, 100GB of data is more than enough, but if you’re streaming some video as well, 500GB is a safer bet. There won’t be too many typical households that need more than 500GB, but for them there’s unlimited data which isn’t that much more expensive.
Of course, other providers have different pricing options, but this gives you a general idea of what’s available.
What about some bundled inclusions?
The most commonly offered bundled inclusion is a home phone service. As the NBN replaces the copper phone network for many customers, and re-uses it for others, a home phone service typically cannot be delivered over the old copper network once you’re switched over to the NBN. If you still use a home phone service, you’ll need to use one that’s delivered over the NBN, and because of this, most providers offer an optional phone service.
Aussie Broadband offers three simple options if you want a phone service:
- A free service with Pay-As-You-Go charges for calls.
- A $10/month service which includes unlimited local and national calls, and PAYG rates for mobile calls.
- A $20/month service which throws in mobile calls too.
In each case, you can keep your old landline number when you switch to Aussie Broadband. If you don’t have a landline, and want to take one up, you can have a new number assigned with your service.
Other providers offer different inclusion options. For example, you may be able to package in a home entertainment option (such as Fetch TV), bundle your service with Pay TV (from Foxtel), or take a service with a 4G backup option (Vodafone or Telstra).
Depending on what you’re after, these bundles can save you a bit of money, but you should always carefully compare the pricing of bundles vs stand-alone options. In some cases, it’s cheaper not to bundle, or you may have to commit to a minimum term contract for a bundled service, whereas the standalone options may be contract-free.
What else do I need to know?
We’ve now walked through the different NBN connection types, and the general details you need to be aware of in selecting an NBN plan. In our next installment, we’ll be looking at how to actually get connected to the NBN, whether you’ve already got the NBN at your place and you’re changing providers, or whether this is your first NBN install.
This article is one in a series of sponsored stories from Aussie Broadband, recognised by industry as Australia’s best NBN provider, two years running. Winner of Best Fixed Broadband Provider at the Edison Awards, 2018 and 2019.