NOTE: This guide has been superseded. Click here for the most recent version. Optus has announced its pricing plans for NBN customers, which means there are now four major companies vying for your NBN custom. We've got all the pricing in one handy and updated Planhacker spreadsheet so you can compare what's available.
Note that you can still only get the NBN in pilot locations (currently Townsville, Armidale, Kiama, Brunswick, Scottsdale, Midway Point, Smithon and Willunga). The NBN continues to roll out to more locations, and there will be many more providers offering services by the time the NBN is fully available nation-wide, but competition is definitely starting to heat up. (Tasmania's NBN sites don't necessarily get the full choice; Optus, for instance, isn't running there.)
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 Exetel, iiNet, Internode and Optus, the four ISPs that have released general market pricing. We've included monthly fees; speeds; downloads limits; 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.
A few important notes: iiNet's plans include matching peak (8am-2am) and off-peak (2am-8am) components, while Optus' also have variable amounts of peak (12pm-12am) and off-peak (12am-12pm)options. In the table, we've only listed the peak component. (Yes, you can schedule downloads to take advantage of off-peak, but for comparison purposes we're concerned with 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 25/5 speed) also include phone service, so be cautious in directly comparing them to other options.
Exetel is the only provider which doesn't count uploads and has the most generous shaping speed, but it also has the smallest overall download limits. Internode has dumped its previous approach of requiring a bundled phone service (though in practice bundling VOIP could be a good strategy with all providers). Internode is also the only no-contract option 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; there's no guarantee that will remain the case in the future, but if you're signing up now it's very appealing. For full details of each plan direct from the provider, hit the links below:
Tempted by any of these? Want different options? Share your ideas in the comments.
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