Planhacker: Complete NBN Plan Guide May 2012

The range of National Broadband Network (NBN) plans continues to expand, and there are many more to come. Planhacker covers all the plans on offer in Australia right now in a custom spreadsheet you can use to find the best option for you.

There has been a lot of movement in the NBN world since we last published this listing, including the entry of Club Telco, Engin and MyNetFone. Many more ISPs have signed up for the NBN but not yet released plans, so further activity is likely.

You can't get an NBN plan unless the NBN has been activated in your area. You can find out when that's due to happen in your area using NBN Co's own interactive maps. If you can access NBN services, it's important to make sure you're comparing like with like. Some plans include nothing but basic broadband connectivity; others also include landline-like phone services. Check our guide to five common mistakes people make when assessing NBN plans to avoid these kinds of traps.

ISPs offering NBN services have to choose from a set of standard speed combinations, but beyond that they are free to set whatever policies they like in terms of download limits, shaping policy, peak and off-peak availability, contract length and other terms.

In the table below, we've listed the options available from every ISP we know of that has released general market pricing for consumers. We've included monthly fees; speeds; downloads limits (peak, off-peak and total); setup fees; contract lengths; minimum cost over the length of the contract; what speed your connection gets shaped to if you exceed those monthly limits, and whether those limits include uploads as well as downloads. Note that the setup fee generally doesn't include an NBN-ready modem (you'll have a range of these to choose from, depending on the provider, and some will make them free depending on the length of the contract).

While there are a large number of plans, you can sort and filter the table by clicking on the column headers, so that you can (for instance) only see plans running at 100/40, or sort in order of total download limits or prices.

Some background notes: iiNet's plans include matching peak (8am-2am) and off-peak (2am-8am) components. Optus also have variable amounts of peak (12pm-12am) and off-peak (12am-12pm)options, as do iPrimus (peak 10am-2am, off-peak 2am-10am). We've listed each separately, but recommend careful consideration before taking up a plan which applies the peak/off-peak distinction. (Yes, you can schedule downloads to take advantage of off-peak, but it's better to have connectivity you can use when it suits you.)

Optus customers adjust speeds by adding speed packs to their basic plans ($10 a month for 50/20, $20 a month for 100/40), which we've reflected in the table. Note that the $39.99 plan is only available if you have an Optus mobile; other plans may have discounts if you're already an Optus customer. Optus' $64.94, $109 and $129 plans (at 25/1 speed) also include phone service, so be cautious in directly comparing them to other options.

Telstra also includes varying amounts phone credit with its bundled plans (those which end in even dollar amounts), but doesn't offer the full range of speed choices. The phone offers vary with each plan, so check carefully (only the $150 deal includes unlimited calls to Australian landline and mobile numbers). Non-bundled plans have a high installation fee.

Exetel is one of two providers which doesn't count uploads and has the most generous shaping speed, but it also has the smallest overall download limits and has cut back significantly on the range of plans it offers. That makes most of its plans cheaper, but doesn't give you as much scope for large downloads.

Unusually, iPrimus offers a 12 month contract (the only advantage of the longer 24-month contract is a marginally cheaper router). It has cheaper rates if you bundle its broadband with other services, but we've listed the standalone prices here.

Internode is one of a handful no-contract options currently available. Its shaping speed is low, but you can pay extra for higher shaping speeds or additional data bundles, and it has the highest download limits overall.

Optus' offer of free installation is handy and we like that it doesn't have contracts, though there's no guarantee that will remain the case in the future. Club Telco also has a no-contract option, but doesn't have particularly generous data options. Engin distinguishes itself by not counting uploads but doesn't have many plans, while MyNetFone lets you buy extra 'data packs' if you exceed the limits in a given month, but that means you don't get a shaping option. It has a well-priced 2TB a month option (its plans won't be available until late June but we've included them here for comparisons).

Skymesh also has a data packs approach.

For full details of each plan direct from the provider, hit the links below:

One final point: every time we write about the NBN, some commenters will point out that they can get a bigger download limit from their existing provider for less money right now and argue they don't want to change. Speed considerations aside, It's worth remembering that not everyone is blessed with the same choices you are, and that no-one is being forced yet to switch to the NBN in areas where there are a large range of providers. By the time it hits your area, the pricing will certainly be different.

Lifehacker's weekly Planhacker column rounds up the best communication deals.


Comments

    As an expat in Australia (from Norway), the peak/offpeak & shaping scam you guys have got going is utterly ridiculous. I love your country, but the sheeple mentality of allowing ISPs to rip you all off in such a blatantly fraudulent manner is quite fascinating.

      I have no idea about Norway, but if it's anything like Korea, then the government would have financed and built the whole infrastructure. Unfortunately, in Australia, the cons will shout 'government waste' at anything that government tries to do. So over here they had to give a line of credit to the NBN Company and the company will pay back the government. This means NBN company will pass on all expenses to the consumer at the end. Hence it will be more expensive.

      Funny, if you actually looked at the list, you might've noticed only about 25% or less of the plans bother with peak/off-peak.

      When the idea of peak/off-peak came in, it made a lot of sense - the more people overloading the network at once the worse everyone's connection became. With the NBN, though, that's not an issue anymore. But to say the idea of peak/off-peak is a con job is completely really quite ignorant.

      Oops, I forgot to wiggle the obligatory lifehacker commenter's mention of the word "sheeple" in there.

    You guys keep banging on about the NBN, but I still don't see any plans that come close to my TPG unlimited and for me the speed is adequate.

    YES the prices will come down eventually - but it took years for the DSL price wars and unlimited plans and i don't have to pay extra depending on my speed.

      The whole reason Telecom (remember them) took us for a merry ride was the fact that the government did not know what they where doing - now they are doing it all over again with the NBN

      "Speed considerations aside, It’s worth remembering that not everyone is blessed with the same choices you are, and that no-one is being forced yet to switch to the NBN in areas where there are a large range of providers."

        Well the only choice I have is DSL (or dial-up), I am on the borderline of the exchange limit so my speed is not as good as it could be. I have no issue with the NBN combining technologies to provide rural and unsupported areas with high speed internet, this is where we should be spending the money right now. I am concerned about the spiraling costs of the project which is going to provide little difference to those in the cities.

          What spiraling costs? I haven't heard any cost blow outs. Care to link?

          Hey Paul, you're not the only one using the internet you know!

          I have a business account (I work from home) and to get the best speed possible I have a "bonded" (2 ADSL lines combined as one) connection , which gets me about 24/3mbps (on a good day) and 400GB "anytime" quota. For this I pay $230 a month.

          Once the NBN rolls out past my house (3+ years time and AT LEAST $7920 later) I will be able to get 100/40 mbps speed and 500GB+500GB quota for $130 a month! So a saving of $100 with much MUCH faster speed and larger quota.

          Just because YOU "don’t see any plans that come close to my TPG unlimited" and that for YOU a crappy DSL speed "is adequate" doesn't mean that's the same for the vast majority of city-dwelling (or otherwise) people that live in Australia.

      "and for me the speed is adequate." Try using 100mbps and then we'll see if you think your speed is adequate. I'll gladly pay 100 dollars a month for 100 download and 40(!) upload for 1000GB cap.

    Or move to the country where i am. I got the last ADSL connection for my street, and what about the next person that needs an ADSL connection in my street? "Sorry , you are going to have to pay a bazziloin dollars to Telstra per gig to use a frigin dongle, unless of course you remember dial up". There is currently no other choice in this area for mobile 3G/HSDPA.
    NBN will be here in 8 months and i cant wait. We don't have the luxury of being offered 'naked' packages; or more than a couple of providers that have to use Telstra to get here. No TPG here. No Optus here. In fact i think there are like 4 ISPs in total i can choose from.
    Competition is pretty much non existent for folks in my area, and im paying double what i used to pay for the same product that i had in the city. I lived in Melbourne most of my life; and you guys in the city are so lucky to have so much choice and not too mention SPEED aswell.
    Who needs a friggin LAND LINE these days anyway? 30 buks extra for something i dont use?
    For me till the NBN gets here, i have no choice.
    Peeps in the city who don't understand why the government are spending all this cash on it....STOP YOUR WHINGING! You are not the only users of the internet entitled to fast speed.....

    I live approximately 10 meters away from the cutt-off for TPG network. Also I won't get NBN till the end of 2015. I was just privileged enough to be caught up in a 24 hour telstra blackout due to some awful copper wiring being cut somewhere. Yay for me. :-(

      Wouldn't have been such a big outage if it had been copper, but it was a backhoe through a fibre optic, which means each strand has to be painstakingly glued back together.

    Yeeeeep... I'm not getting it till 2015. I reckon they should have given it to all those who voted for it first, and made those who voted against it in the last election wait. They should have made Mr TurnBull and Mr Rabbit get it last to their houses (skip by if need be), even make sure their offices in the PHouse get it last!

      Great Hubris, the country can drown in debt because of poor management, and maybe people can still pay for NBN plans on welfare but you'll still cling to the misguided lies of Juliar for the off budget (read unknown) costings for the NBN roll out because you'll be better off right? Country or out of city areas should have better internet services but in these time of GFC and European country failures I think the city areas are fast enough until the country is out of severe debt levels.

    NBN in theory is a great idea. We all want more data and faster download speeds but we knew that we would be back in shaping territory once it got up and running. Why should I go back to where I was 5 years ago with max download limits and shaping etc. when I get unlimited download for $60 bucks a month at about 12Mbs?. Give me a reason to change.

    Hey guys, I made a website that compares nbn plans. you can check it out here: http://www.nbncompared.com.au

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