Planhacker: Which NBN Tier Provides The Best Value?

NBN Tier 1 vs NBN Tier 5Image: iStock

Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) currently provides five wholesale access speeds known as "tiers". The highest tier (Tier 5) provides download speeds of up to 100 Mbps, while the lowest tier (Tier 1) barely rivals traditional ADSL2+. But how do they compare on price? Let's find out...

For those who haven't been keeping up, here are the speed tiers that are currently available over NBN fibre as explained on the nbn website:

Tier 1: This speed tier provides your service provider with wholesale access speeds of 12Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload over NBN fibre.   Tier 2: This speed tier provides your service provider with wholesale access speeds of 25 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload over NBN fibre.   Tier 3: This speed tier provides your service provider with wholesale access speeds of 25 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload over NBN fibre.   Tier 4: This speed tier provides your service provider with wholesale access speeds of 50 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload over NBN fibre.   Tier 5: This speed tier provides your service provider with wholesale access speeds of 100 Mbps download and 40 Mbps upload over NBN fibre.

As you can see, Tier 5 provides theoretical download speeds that are nearly ten times faster than Tier 1. Obviously, this tier isn't available everywhere and overall speeds are affected by a multitude of other factors including equipment quality, access to FTTP and the service provider's network layout. Nevertheless, if you're a serious internet user, you're probably going to want one of the upper tiers.

More on NBN:

So is the price worth it? Below are the five cheapest NBN plans in Australia for Tiers 1, 2, 4 and 5. All of these plans are for non-bundled, unlimited data on a 24-month contract. (To find out more about a plan and/or sign up, you can click on the Details box in the tables below.)

NBN Tier 1 Plans

NBN Tier 2 Plans

NBN Tier 4 Plans

NBN Tier 5 Plans

So there you have it. Based on the five cheapest plans listed above, you'd be daft to sign up to a Tier 1 offering: upgrading to a Tier 2 plan will only cost you a few extra dollars per month.

Depending on who you shop with, the difference in other tier pricing isn't too painful either -- indeed, it's possible to bag a cheaper Tier 5 plan from some providers. For example, NetFone's unlimited Tier 5 offering costs $89.99 per month, whereas AusBBS' Tier 4 plan costs $125 per month. The former also comes bundled with a wireless modem, while the latter requires you to supply your own.

The moral of the story is that it definitely pays to shop around when it comes to the NBN. Instead of settling on a mid-range tier, set your maximum price and check them all: you might be pleasantly surprised by the speeds you can afford.


    I'll stick with optus cable for now.

    Can you explain the bit behind supply your own modem? Doesn't the NBN fibre install a NTU with has the ethernet ports ready to go. You would only need to supply your own Wireless access point.

      my understanding is you have a Wan Point. But you would need to set up your Own Router with your ISP username/password to actually make use of the port.

      your isp usually only gives you one IP Address, Which is 1 Device. and you cant have more than one Device on a network with the same ip.


      Your Router Is your 1 Device which acts as the Medium Between the 20 thousand laptops in your house. and your 1 Ip Address Assigned to your Property.

      but think of the ethernet port as
      Fibre To Copper connection for your modem/router

      Anthony, you'd really want to have a router between your local network and the NTU to provide some more robust protection from the WWW and all the network sniffers / port scanners etc. Otherwise, you'd just be reliant on your OS firewall software, and let's face it, very few of those are worth being your own defence.

      Pretty much. TPG gave me a 4 port wireless router, plugged it into the NTD, and thats all I touch now. The NTD is pretty sensitive, so you dont want to be plugging and unplugging on a regular basis, so that first router becomes fairly important.

      Thats my main hub, I have three other routers off of that (one in each bedroom, and one in the lounge), and dont have to touch the NTD at all. Which is good, because the nature of fibre optic makes them pretty sensitive.

        The nature of fibre makes it sensitive?

          Because of how it works, the signal needs to be lined up without too much deviation, or it just wont work. Its not like a CAT6 type connection where the cables just have to effectively be touching each other, the optical signal needs a very defined path to transfer from one connection to the other.

          Older connections work off conductivity, so theres a lot of leeway, but optical works differently enough you dont want to be messing with it too much. Most problems with fibre optics are for that reason - a cable has simply moved a millimeter.

          I'd have thought they could secure them better, but it seems thats not as easy as it sounds.

            So they are using low cost components as the problem not fibre is ridiculously sensitive. In all my years working with fibre. Dust is the only real problem I come across. But a good Polish and away it goes. Slightly misaligned should usually give you dB drops and yeah depends on the strength of your signal and the quality of your receiver as to the outcome.
            If your connects are that sensitive that it's causing problems I'd look at the rubbish connectors being used. It is really that easy.
            Fibre run properly and used properly is a strong robust comms transmission method.

    Anthonyp69 if you are going to be on FTTN like most of us will be you will have to either have to pay for a modem from your isp.

    With fttp you get an NTU but with fttn you need a modem, and HFC

    Solid, Still no Exetel plans on there...

    So these companies have purchased enough CVC back haul or is it going to choke in peak times? How do you tell without signing up for 2 years?

      Providers keep this info of how much is purchased very close to their chests. It's clearly dynamite, the insidest of insider information. You probably know but for the benefit of others, CVC is $15.75 for every 1Mbps of capacity (no, no typos). They say it's a matter of which provider is less choked. But I'm on Exetel FTTN and my speeds are always very good, but that seems to be uncommon.

      The best info we have is things like Netflix's ISP speed index:

      and Google's video quality report:

    You'd be mad to sign up to an Unlimited NBN plan if you're looking for value.
    You're just signing yourself up for miserable Peak hour performance, ie lousy performance right at the time you're most likely to be using your plan. In which case signing up for a 12/1 connection is probably best value.

    Last edited 21/09/16 9:41 pm

      Although at 12/1, after having had 13/1 ADSL2+ for 8 years, I would feel pretty cheated for the $50 billion government spend.

    These speeds are terrible - Tier 1 to 3 shouldnt even exist in 2016. I had adsl 2 with around 20mbs at least 10 years ago. There wasnt any point building the NBN if you are going to have those speeds. It should start at 50mbs and go up from there.

    All of those options are hopelessly congested more often than not.

    And no mention of anything above tier 5?

      Presume you mean FTTN congestion? I'm on FTTP and whenever connected by ethernet I see very close to 100/40 (in practice around 94-95 / 31-33). Slower when on wifi but I'm still using wireless N.

        FTTP congestion, im on fibre 100/40 and barely get 5mbps during evenings
        the rest of the time ~97mbps, but when everyone gets home and starts watching netflix or whatever, it all goes to hell

          Why is that? My understanding is that the fibre (hardware) won't be the limit. Perhaps your ISP doesn't have sufficient capacity for all its customers in your area?

            Yep, it just isnt financially sound to run decent contention ratios at the prices they charge with how much NBN co charges per mbit. In my case though, im on 6PNJ through iinet, and its their backhaul from the POI thats the issue now rather than anything nbnco (at least thats the story) and it has been for months now :S

    Any reason there are no plans for Tier 3?

      Not really. Why not give people a choice. They are out there but you have to hunt around.

    What, you really think the tradies that come and install the NBN make sure the fibre optic cable is secured in position to be millimetre perfect? They pretty much plug it in and leave.

    The moral of the story is Don't let Rupert Murdoch own your Government, such that they Destroy the NBN and run a Go Slow program, so that he can leach out more money from his Foxtel and media empire. He is a dictator and owns Australian' Politicians, we are so brainwashed we don't care, we support the companies who give him advertising revenue and Governments which give him billion dollar cash tax handouts, not owing.

    NBN is trashed thanks to Murdoch and that traitor Turnbull.

    Great when it comes to my location! In a few years time.

    So I found out that my area gets HFC connections and will most likely be run through the existing Optus cable already connected to my house.
    The speeds they are offering are already slower than the speeds I get on the existing Optus cable. The plan will be $20 cheaper a month but has no included calls like my existing Optus plan does.
    To get the same deal I am on now with unlimited internet and unlimited calls on landline will cost me $30 a month more with Optus with a slower connection.
    How is the NBN an advancement in technology?
    Ad to that my home phone doesnt work if the power goes off and there are no battery backup options for HFC connections.
    This is a huge backward step for the country.

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