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.