When it comes to the NBN, we know that plans and providers are not all equal. Despite standard speed tiers, performance can vary a lot, especially during the evening peak times.
Every ISP is technically reselling access to the same network, but the way in which providers like Telstra and TPG buy capacity from NBN Co means there can be discrepancies in the speeds you’ll get from one to another. This is most noticeable during busy periods, like at night when everyone is trying to binge Netflix at the same time.
If your entire neighbourhood wants to binge the new season of Rick & Morty and your provider doesn’t have enough bandwidth, you end up with a digital traffic jam. Even if you’re paying for what you think is a fast NBN plan.
Thanks to the ACCC, NBN providers are revealing what kind of speeds you can realistically expect to get during busy hours - not just the NBN speed tier your plan is based on. The good news is there are plenty of providers who do a great job of delivering the speeds that their customers are paying for, and we'd like to call them out.
Superloop is one of the fastest NBN providers on the block, reporting typical evening speeds of 90Mbps on its NBN 100 plans.
While it’s easy to think of Superloop as just another NBN provider, it stands out from the crowd thanks to its own robust infrastructure. It’s one of the few telcos with a physical connection to every NBN Point of Interconnect, and it has a whole lot of subsea cable capacity and domestic fibre. Other providers often need to outsource this. Essentially, Superloop has far greater control over its network than most providers, which helps with faster speeds as well as troubleshooting.
In addition, Superloop reports evening speeds of 44.4Mbps on NBN 50 plans, which is also up there with the best of the best.
Telstra comes in on the higher side of the evening speed spectrum, which you’d hope for given the premium pricing. The telco reports 88Mbps on NBN 100 plan, 44Mbps on NBN 50 plans, and 20Mbps on NBN 25 plans
There’s more to the Big T NBN story, however. In addition to typical speeds, Telstra also provides average evening speeds, based on the performance of 90% of its NBN customers.
Telstra’s most recent data comes from February, where it says it says its NBN 100 customers were getting average evening speeds of 92.74Mbps, NBN 50 customers were getting 46.50Mbps, and NBN 25 customers were getting 23.19Mbps.
The average speed reports exclude Fixed Wireless NBN customers, and all fixed line customers with a limited maximum line speed thanks to shitty copper.
Telstra NBN 100 plans are only available to customers with a FTTP or HFC connection. All other technology types are restricted to NBN 50 speeds as a maximum.
If you're not familiar with Aussie Broadband, now is the time to check it out. Aussie Broadband is one of the few NBN providers that really seems to pride itself on doing a great job, pitching itself as the “the telco that gives a ****”. That’s Aussie’s censorship, not mine.
Aussie Broadband says its customers rarely encounter congestion - even during peak times - and to prove it, published bandwidth graphs that show how much capacity it has purchased on the network versus how much capacity its customers are using.
Aussie Broadband reports evening speeds of 86Mbps on NBN 100 plans, 43Mbps on NBN 50 plans, and 22Mbps on NBN 25 plans.
TPG’s evening speeds have fluctuated a lot over the course of the last year or so. It once reported evening speeds of almost 90Mbps, but then dropped to under 80Mbps. They’ve seemingly stabilising now, with TPG reporting typical evening speeds of 85.5Mbps on NBN 100 plans.
TPG also reports evening speeds of 45.6Mbps on NBN 50 plans, and 11Mbps on NBN 12 plans.
Vodafone is comparatively new to the NBN game, but already seems to be doing a great job at delivering on speed. Vodafone says NBN 100 customers will get typical evening speeds of 84Mbps, NBN 50 customers will get evening speeds of 44Mbps, and NBN 25 customers will get evening speeds of 22Mbps.
If you're an existing Vodafone mobile customer, you can save between 5% and 20% on a Vodafone NBN plan by bundling it with your existing service. Vodafone will add on a 5% discount to your entire bill for every plan on your account after the first, up to a maximum of five plans.
Kogan Internet is quite literally Vodafone NBN by another name. You miss out on discount bundling and 4G backup, but you’ll pay a little less per month.
Given the relationship with Vodafone, Kogan’s NBN evening speeds are identical. 85Mbps on NBN 100 plans, 44Mbps on NBN 50 plans, and 22Mbps on NBN 25 plans.
Tangerine Telecom is a young NBN provider that's been making waves lately thanks to strong promotional offers and a 14-day risk free trial on its plans. Better yet, the company reports pretty decent evening speeds: 83Mbps on NBN 100 plans, 42Mbps on NBN 50 plans, and 21Mbps on NBN 25 plans.
MATE is another reliable option, reporting evening speeds of 83Mbps on NBN 100 plans, 42Mbps on NBN 50 plans, 19Mbps on NBN 25 plans, and 10Mbps on NBN 12 plans.
MATE’s NBN plans are reasonably well priced, and you shave off a further $10 per month by bundling them with a MATE SIM-only mobile plan. MATE’s mobile plans start at $20 per month for 5GB and are powered by the Telstra network.
MyRepublic also does a pretty decent job when it comes to peak hour performance. The telco says customers experience typical evening speeds of 83Mbps on NBN 100 plans, and 43Mbps on NBN 50 plans. You’ll want to avoid its NBN 25 plans however, which are advertised with typical evening speeds of just 15Mbps.
iiNet's peak hour performance isn’t overly exciting, with the telco now reporting evening speeds of 80.6Mbps on NBN 100 plans, 43.5Mbps on NBN 50 plans, and 20.4Mbps on NBN 25 plans.
Optus' evening speeds seem pretty no frills at first: 80Mbps on NBN 100 plans, and 44Mbps on NBN 50 plans. But just like Telstra, Optus also provides average peak evening speed information too.
Optus' latest numbers come from February, claiming that NBN 100 customers were getting average evening speeds of 88.8Mbps and NBN 50 customers were getting 46.9Mbps. These speeds are calculated over a two-week period based on the experiences of a "representative" group of customers.
These average speeds put Optus a little closer to the front of the pack, at least when compared to the typical speeds reported by the rest of the industry.
Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia's phone and internet comparison website.
This article has been updated since its original publication
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