NBN Explained: How to get the best deal on your high-speed internet connection

Who has the best broadband plans as of January 2021

Credit: Supplied

This next bit might sound familiar.

The National Broadband Network has finally arrived in your local area and you’re inundated with flyers and banner ads from each of Australia’s many ISPs and broadband vendors. You know you need NBN but you don’t know where to start. What’s the difference between NBN25 and NBN50? What’s CVC? Is NBN100 worth it? Can you use 5G instead of the NBN.

This article does the hard work of answering those questions and rounding up the best value NBN plans in Australia and answering some of the frequently asked questions you might have about the National Broadband Network.

Best NBN50 Plans - January 2021

Our Pick: Tangerine XL Speed Boost Unlimited

Also consider:

Best NBN100 Plans - January 2021

Our Pick: TPG NBN100 Unlimited Bundle

Also consider:

Why didn’t we include NBN 12 and NBN 25 plans?

At the end of the day, NBN 12 and NBN 25 just don't cut it when it comes to supporting everyday internet usage. Quite often it is the case that people complaining about their NBN actually haven't done the research into connection speeds and accidentally gone with NBN 12 or NBN 25. 

What’s the difference between NBN12, NBN25, NBN 50 and NBN 25?

The first thing to understand about NBN is that there are four main speed tiers; NBN12, NBN25, NBN50 and NBN100. For all intents and purposes, the most notable difference each of these is the speed of the connection type. For example, NBN25 connections offer up to 25/mbps in download and up to 5/mbps in terms of upload. 

This is significantly better than what you’ll get from an NBN12 connection. The most basic of broadband packages, NBN12 plans only offer download speeds of 12/mbps and palty upload speeds of 1/mbps. 

By comparison to the above, NBN50 connections offer a serious speed bump. They often deliver up to 50/mbps in download speeds and up to 20/mbps when it comes to upload.

We’d recommend going with an NBN50 connection if you live in a household with more than two people and are keen to stream video in higher resolutions like 4K. 

Credit: Netflix

There’s also something of a difference when it comes to pricing across the four connection types. As you might expect, NBN 50 plans are usually a bit more expensive than their NBN 25 counterparts and NBN100 plans are the most expensive of all.

The second thing you need to understand about the NBN is that, if you want to do anything substantial with your internet (like snack on some Netflix content or download video games you will probably want to opt for NBN50 or NBN100.

Like the nomenclature suggests, NBN100 connections are capable of delivering up to 100/mbps download and 40/mbps upload. 

Are all NBN providers the same?

While Optus, TPG, Telstra and all the rest are all offering the same pitch when it comes to broadband connectivity, there can be a wide variety in the quality of service that each ISP delivers. 

Superloop Credit: Superloop

When selecting a plan it is important to do some research into the network capacity of your provider. ISPs with greater network capacity often deliver more reliable evening speeds. Keep in mind that just because a plan is NBN 100 doesn’t necessarily mean that it has the same average evening speed that another NBN 100 plan might offer.

What can I do if I’m unhappy with my current NBN provider?

Change! Unless you’re locked into a contract, switching your NBN connection from one provider to another is easier than you think. 

Alternatively, if you think your NBN provider has seriously wronged you - it might be worth filing a formal complaint through the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. For more information on this, click here.

Which NBN provider does the ACCC say is best?

As per the regulator’s latest broadband performance data tracker, the ACCC have rated Optus as the NBN provider who delivers the highest download speeds during busy hours. You can read more about this here

How much should I be paying for the internet per month?

In 2020, you should expect to pay around AU$50/month for an NBN25 connection, around AU$70/month for an NBN50 connection and around AU$80 for an NBN100 connection.

Many NBN providers offer temporary discounts that can reduce your initial monthly bill further, so be sure to shop around and make sure you’re getting the best deal you can.

What’s CVC?

If you’ve been following the news, you may have heard the term CVC thrown around in relation to the NBN and NBN connections. This is short-hand for Connectivity Virtual Circuit. Basically, the term refers to the network bandwidth that internet providers like Telstra, Optus or Superloop has on the National Broadband network itself. 

Credit: NBN Co

If the network demands of customers outstrips the amount of CVC that their network providers have provisioned, the network gets congested. CVC is too expensive for ISPs to hoard, so often-times, they have to predict how intensely customers will use their NBN connections and hope for the best. This is the reason why evening and peak hour NBN speeds are often significantly worse than off-peak NBN speeds. 

For many both in and outside the telecom industry, CVC has become a thorny point of contention. 

Will I need to buy a new router to use the NBN?


Read more: Deal: Save $20 on Aussie Broadband's NBN100 plans

Whether or not your router is “NBN ready” depends on the type of nbn connection you’ll have in your area. Generally, if you have a fairly new router, you likely won’t need to upgrade. If you have an older model, you might. 

Specifically, if you have a FTTN or FTTB connection, you’ll need a VDSL2 router. 

As a rule, It’s worth talking directly to your ISP about this to confirm for yourself if you’re worried about your current router not being NBN Ready. .

Can I use 5G instead of the NBN?

With the rise of 5G networks from providers like Optus, Telstra and Vodafone, many customers are looking at the technology as a potential NBN-replacement. 

5G networks are theoretically able to deliver speeds up to ten gigabytes per second. In our testing experience we've seen 5G devices like the Samsung Galaxy 21 and iPhone 12 deliver speeds that range from hundreds of megabytes per-second to 2Gbps in optimal conditions. 

On paper, that’s significantly more than even the best NBN connections can offer. However, there are some pretty significant catches here.

Credit: Qualcomm

Firstly, the footprint for locations where you can actually get 5G is very small right now. It’s growing, for sure. However, like the NBN, it’s a gradual rollout that’s expected to take years. If your area isn’t covered right now, it’s not going to be a realistic option.

The other thing to keep in mind here is that it’s hard to directly compare the 5G speeds you can get now against the NBN. At this stage, there aren’t that many people using the former and network congestion isn’t that much of an issue. In time, that may change - making the trade-offs against the NBN a little more difficult to make.

For more information about 5G, check out our guide here. 

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