We all rely on the internet these days, and it’s always a frustrating experience when it goes down. Outages can happen, but fortunately there are now a few NBN providers that offer 4G backup with their plans.
These plans are bundled with a modem that connects you to the NBN as well as a mobile network. In the event of an outage, the modem will automatically rollover to 4G to keep you online.
There is a catch, however: you’ll experience slower speeds. Every provider that offers 4G backup also caps download speeds to either 12Mbps or 25Mbps when you connect to 4G. That’s equivalent to an NBN 12 or NBN 25 plan – and still fast enough to keep your Netflix binge going – but not really fast enough for larger uploads and downloads.
There are currently four major providers that currently offer 4G backup in Australia: Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, and Tangerine. We’ll take a closer look at these providers below, but first, here’s how they compare when it comes to NBN 50 plans:
Be aware that 4G backup is an optional add-on when it comes to Tangerine and will set you back an extra $15 per month.
Telstra NBN plans
Telstra NBN plans are all bundled with its second-generation Smart Modem, a modem router with 4G backup. You can use the 4G backup while you’re waiting for Telstra to connect your NBN plan, but it’s also there to help deal with internet issues.
Telstra 4G backup uses data from your download allowance, but all but one Telstra NBN has unlimited data these days. You’ll get 4G download speeds of 25Mbps and upload speeds of 1Mbps whenever you need to use 4G.
As such, Telstra has the fastest 4G backup of any NBN provider – at least in terms of downloads. The speeds make it roughly equivalent to an NBN 25 plan.
Here’s a look at Telstra’s NBN plans:
Telstra is currently running a few NBN deals. If you nab yourself a Telstra plan, you can save $10 per month on your first six months of an NBN 50 or NBN 100 plan, or $40 per month on a NBN 250 or NBN 1000 plan. Telstra is currently also waiving its $99 connection fee if you sign-up online, and you’ll also get a three-month free subscription to Binge.
Telstra NBN plans are technically contract-free, but you’ll need to pay out the pro-rated value of the included modem ($216) if you leave within your first 24 months. That’s equivalent to $9 per month left in your two-year term.
If you want faster 4G backup, Telstra’s small business NBN plans include uncapped 4G access. Exact speeds will depend on your location and network congestion, but the Telstra 4G network can comfortably hit speeds between 50Mbps and 100Mbps in most metro areas, if not faster.
Optus also has its own modem with integrated 4G backup: the Optus Ultra WiFI modem. 4G connectivity will be available while you’re waiting for your NBN connection to be finalised, as well as if there’s an outage in your area.
There are no data limits on Optus 4G backup, but your speeds are capped to 12Mbps down and 1Mbps up.
Here’s a look at Optus’ NBN plans:
Optus’ NBN plans are contract-free, but you’ll have to pay out a pro-rated modem fee if you leave within your first 36 months. The modem fee is equivalent to $7 multiplied by the number of months remaining in your three-year term.
Optus also has new family plans that come with a WiFi extender in addition to the modem with 4G backup. Optus’ family plans are available in both NBN 50 speed and NBN 100 speed tiers.
The NBN 50 plan will set you back $79 per month for the first year, and then $85 per month thereafter.
The NBN 100 plan will set you back $99 per month for the first year, and then $105 per month thereafter.
Vodafone’s NBN plans can all be paired with a modem with integrated 4G backup: the Vodafone WiFi Hub. You can use the 4G fallback for up to 30 consecutive days when you’re waiting to be connected to the NBN or whenever your connection fails you.
4G backup data is unlimited on Vodafone, but speeds are capped to 12Mbps down and 1Mbps up.
Notably, Vodafone’s WiFi Hub is unlocked. If you leave Vodafone, you can put your own SIM card in it to power your own 4G backup. You will have to manually reconfigure the modem, however.
Here’s a look at Vodafone’s NBN plans:
Vodafone is currently offering a $10 per month discount on all NBN plans for your first six months.
You can save further by bundling your NBN plan with other Vodafone services on the same account. Vodafone offers a 5% discount for every postpaid plan on your account after your first – encompassing NBN, mobile, mobile broadband, and tablets – up to a maximum discount of 20% with five plans.
Vodafone NBN plans are contract-free, but if you add the WiFi Hub to your plan, you’ll pay out a pro-rated modem fee if you leave within your first three years. This is equivalent to $5 multiplied by the number of months left in your term.
Tangerine NBN plans
Tangerine is one of the only smaller NBN providers to offer 4G backup with its NBN plans. The offer is a little different, however, as Tangerine doesn’t have its own mobile network. Tangerine 4G backup isn’t included out of the box, doesn’t have unlimited data, and is a paid extra on top of your plan.
If you want to add 4G backup to your Tangerine plan, you’ll need to grab its 4G backup modem – a Netcomm NL19ACV – when you sign up.
This will cost you $189.50 upfront. You’ll also need to pay an extra $15 per month, which gets you 30GB of backup data. As with the other providers who offer 4G backup, Tangerine also has speed caps. You’ll be limited to speeds of 12Mbps down and 12Mbps up.
$15 per month may seem like an expensive extra, but you’d typically only get a 5GB or so mobile broadband plan for that kind of money.
Tangerine’s 4G backup is powered by the Optus network.
Here’s a look at Tangerine’s NBN plans:
Tangerine is currently running a promotional discount on all its NBN plans: you’ll save $15 per month for your first six months.
All Tangerine NBN plans have a 14-day satisfaction guarantee. If you decide to bail on Tangerine in your first fortnight, you can get a full refund of your plan fees. You won’t get a refund on your modem, but Tangerine’s modems are all unlocked.
Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website.