The NBN is a complex beast. Buying a fast plan should be simple, but there are so many variables that can affect the speeds you get in practice.
Every ISP is technically reselling access to the same network, but the way in which providers like Telstra, TPG, and Aussie Broadband buy capacity from NBN Co means there can be variance in the speeds you’ll get from one provider to another. This is especially true during busy periods, like at night when everyone is trying to binge Netflix at the same time.
If your entire neighbourhood wants to rewatch Friends and there’s not enough bandwidth to go around, you end up with a digital traffic jam. Even if you’re paying for a plan on the fastest speed tier.
However, NBN providers disclose the typical speeds you can realistically expect to get during peak hours – not just the NBN speed tier the plan is based on. Naturally, some do a better job than others.
To help you pick a provider that consistently delivers the speeds you’re after, we’ve rounded up some of the fastest plans around, based on the most recent evening speed data major ISPs have released.
The fastest NBN 100 plans
Superloop tops the peak hour performance chart for NBN 100 plans reporting typical speeds of 90Mbps, with unlimited plans billed at $89.95 per month.
Telstra reports evening speeds just a little tad slower than Superloop – 88Mbps – but the plan is a bit pricier. If you’re after a Big T NBN 100 plan, you’ll pay $100 per month for your first 12 months and then $110 per month thereafter. Telstra NBN plans also include 4G back up and a three-month free subscription to Binge. This can be extended by another three months by signing up to Telstra Plus.
Be aware that while Telstra’s NBN plans are contract-free, you’ll need to pay out a modem fee if you leave early. This works out to be $9 multiplied by the number of months remaining in your two-year term. For example, if you left after your discount expires, you’d pay a $108 modem fee when you leave.
Only customers on a FTTP or HFC NBN connection can sign up for a Telstra NBN 100 plan, however.
Aussie Broadband is right behind, reporting typical evening speeds of 86Mbps. You’ll pay $99 per month for an unlimited NBN 100 plan, or you cut your bill to $95 per month if you think you can make do with 500GB.
Internode sits just 1Mbps behind Aussie Broadband with typical evening speeds of 85Mbps. It is however 99 cents more expensive, billed at $99.99 per month.
Tangerine is one of your cheapest options for a fast NBN 100 plan (typical evening speeds of 83Mbps) thanks to a promo. You’ll pay $74.90 per month for your first six months, and $89.90 per month thereafter. It is worth noting that the full price is almost identical to what you’d pay on Superloop, who reports faster speeds. Tangerine’s plan is contract-free however, so you can bounce after your discount expires.
MATE is a safe bet if you’d prefer to avoid promotional pricing. $79 per month gets you an unlimited NBN 100 plan with typical evening speeds of 83Mbps. Bundling in a MATE SIM-only plan will cut $10 per month from your bill. MATE mobile plans are powered by the Telstra network and start at $20 per month with 5GB.
The fastest NBN 50 plans
iiNet is a top choice when it comes to fast NBN 50 plans, reporting typical evening speeds of 46.7Mbps. You’ll pay $74.99 per month for an unlimited NBN 50 plan with iiNet.
Stablemate TPG is right behind, with typical evening speeds of 46Mbps. There’s barely a difference between the two but opting for TPG will save you $5 per month. However, be aware that if you’re keen to go with TPG, you’ll need to pick between an 18-month contract or paying $129.95 in upfront fees. iiNet’s plan is free from contracts and setup fees.
If you’re not willing to sign a contract with TPG, iiNet’s plan works out better value. You’d have to last 26 months with iiNet before the higher plan fee adds more to your total spend than TPG’s upfront fees.
If you’re after something a little cheaper, Internode has a promotional offer going on its NBN 50 plan, getting you unlimited data for $59.99 per month for your first six months. You’ll pay $79.99 per month thereafter. The plan is sold on a six-month contract, but you can leave as soon as your discount is up.
Lastly, the same $10 per month discount available on Telstra NBN 100 plans is also available on Telstra NBN 50 plans. This brings them down to $80 per month for your first year.
It’s important to be aware that typical evening speeds disclosed by NBN providers are just an indication of the speeds you can reasonably expect during peak hours. There are other factors that can affect the speeds you get at home. These can include the technology you’re using to connect to the NBN, the hardware in your home, and any abnormally high usage in your area.
Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website.
As Lifehacker editors we write about stuff we like and think you'll like too. Lifehacker often has affiliate partnerships, so we may get a share of the revenue from your purchase.