Good news, everyone! The NBN is slowly, but surely, getting better. According to the ACCC, the average CVC acquired by the providers is on the up, with the national average now at 1.52Mbps per user, an increase of 37% in the fourth quarter of 2017. It seems the providers are finally being shamed into positive changes. Hurray!
Of course, this doesn't mean everyone is having an awesome time surfing the big waves of the internet data stream. In fact, for some the NBN will never be a suitable way to get online.
Thankfully, there’s a number of alternatives worth considering, and plenty more on the way.
All of the plans above come with a full-size Huawei modem/router with most of the goodies you'd expect from a modem you'd receive with a fixed-line broadband plan. Ethernet ports, a robust user interface, and ports for connecting external antennas.
The prices of these plans are pretty good, and the included data is enough to be useful for smaller households. The big catch is that the plans are speed limited to 12Mbps download and 1Mbps upload. That said, I know a small law firm that has been running its business entirely off the Optus Home Wireless broadband service for months while the NBN is connecting in the area.
Mobile broadband plans with portable modems will deliver the full speed of the 4G network, but tend to offer far less data for your dollars.
The Optus plan is the clear winner with basically the same plan as you get with Home Wireless Broadband, but where the fixed modem is swapped with a portable model. Telstra mobile broadband plans come with the excellent Netgear Nighthawk M1 modem and speeds up to 1Gbps, but good luck finding a plan with enough data to survive a month in a busy home.
BYO modem (or old phone)
Above are the top ten SIM only data plans, many with enough data for a small household. Optus is still the most generous, and comes with all of the same bonuses you get with a phone plan: an Optus Sport subscription, free music streaming and access to the National Geographic app. If you sign up for 12-months you get an extra 40GB per month.
With all of these plans you'll need to find a modem to use. Or, you can use an old phone set up in Portable Hotspot mode (except with a Telstra SIM). If you have an old phone getting dusty on a bookshelf it might be time to put it to use.
Joe Hanlon is Publisher at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website. He’s been writing about phones and plans for far too long.