The NBN is complicated. 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.
To help you choose, 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.
Evening speeds can and do change however, and a few telcos have recently published new metrics on plan performance. For the most part, these changes have been for the best. While TPG previously reported evening speeds around 80Mbps, it has now jumped to second place with speeds of 95Mbps, for example.
So, 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.
Before we start, 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.
The fastest NBN 100 plans
Telstra is the current victor when it comes to fast NBN 100 plans, offering a plan with reported typical evening speeds of 100Mbps. That should be as close to congestion free as you can get, with the telco ostensibly promising no slowdown, no matter what time of day.
You’ll pay for this privilege, however. Telstra is the most expensive major NBN provider around; you’ll pay $90 per month for your first year, 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.
Telstra NBN plans are contract-free, but be aware that you’ll pay out a modem fee if you leave within your first two years. This is equivalent to $9 multiplied by the number of months you’ve got left in your term. If you were to leave after your discount expires, that’s $108 exit fee.
iiNet and TPG and now equal second, reporting typical evening speeds of 95Mbps. TPG is the cheaper of the pair, charging $79.99 per month for your first six months, and then $89.99 per month thereafter. You’ll need to commit to a six-month term, but you’re always able to leave as soon as your discount expires. This plan also includes a modem. iiNet’s plan is $99.99 per month, contract-free, but doesn’t include a modem.
Superloop, SpinTel, and Optus sit in equal third with typical evening speeds of 90Mbps.
Out of these, Superloop is your cheapest option thanks to a promotional discount. You’ll pay $74.95 per month for your first six months, and then $89.95 per month. The plan is contract-free, so, once again, you can leave after your discount expires.
Optus also has a promotional discount, and will charge $89 per month for your first year, and then $99 per month thereafter. You’ll be up for a $99 setup fee, and a modem fee if you leave within your first three years. This is equivalent to $7 per month for each month remaining in your 36-month term.
This Optus NBN plan also includes a Fetch Mini set-top box which lets you pause and rewind live TV, and an Optus Sport subscription.
SpinTel could be a better option if you want to avoid promotional discounts, reporting the same evening speeds but charging a flat $84.95 per month.
Tangerine is another cheaper option, once again, 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 and more expensive than SpinTel, who both report faster speeds. This plan is also contract-free, however.
The fastest NBN 50 plans
Telstra is once again your fastest choice when it comes to NBN 50 plans, reporting typical evening speeds of 50Mbps. You’ll pay $90 per month for this plan – just be aware that you’ll need to pay a modem fee if you leave within your first 24 months. This is equivalent to $9 multiplied by the number of months you’ve got left in your term.
iiNet and TPG are right behind, both reporting typical evening speeds of 48Mbps. TPG is $5 per month cheaper, but you’ll need to sign a six-month contract. iiNet’s plan is completely contract-free.
If you’re after something cheaper, SpinTel is reporting typical evening speeds of 45Mbps on its NBN 50 plan. You’ll pay $59 per month for your first six months, and $64.95 per month thereafter.
Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website.