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 get its binge on, 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. We’ve ranked providers by their NBN 100 speeds.
Before we start, here’s a snapshot of the providers with the fastest NBN 100 plans around:
Telstra is one of the best performers, ostensibly promising congestion-free plans. The telco reports 100Mbps on NBN 100 plans, 50Mbps on NBN 50 plans, and 25Mbps on NBN 25 plans. That means customers shouldn’t ever encounter congestion, which could help soften the blow of Telstra’s premium pricing.
Telstra also does a great job when it comes to NBN 250 plans and NBN 1000 plans. It reports 230Mbps on NBN 250 plans, and 700Mbps on NBN 1000 plans. This gives Telstra the fastest NBN 1000 plan around, right now.
NBN 250 plans are only available to FTTP customers and 97% of HFC customers. NBN 100 plans are only available to FTTP customers, and 58% of HFC customers. Further upgrades should mean that all HFC customers will be able to get an NBN 250 plan by June, and 94% should be able to connect on an NBN 1000 plan by the end of the year.
Like Telstra, Optus is reporting top-tier evening speeds on NBN 50 and NBN 100 plans. Customers can expect typical evening speeds of 100Mbps on NBN 100 plans and 50Mbps on NBN 50 plans.
Optus recently added NBN 250 and NBN 1000 plans to its range, but the speeds are fairly standard for their tiers: 215Mbps and 250Mbps, respectively.
Superloop is one of the fastest NBN providers, also promising congestion-free connectivity on speed tiers as fast as NBN 100. That means typical evening speeds of 25Mbps on NBN 25 plans, 50Mbps on NBN 50 plans, and 100Mbps on NBN 100 plans. In addition, it reports typical evening speeds of 215Mbps on its NBN 250 plans, and 250Mbps on its NBN 1000 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.
Superloop is also one of the only providers to publish bandwidth (CVC) graphs. These show how much capacity it has in each area versus how much is being used. By looking at the historic performance for your area, these graphs can give you an idea of whether you should expect any congestion.
SpinTel has pumped its evening speeds recently, making it part of the congestion-free club. It advertises typical evening speeds of 100Mbps on NBN 100 plans, 50Mbps on NBN 50 plans, and 25Mbps on NBN 25 plans. SpinTel doesn’t currently offer plans faster than NBN 100.
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 great service, pitching itself as the “the telco that gives a ****”. That’s Aussie’s censorship, not mine.
The telco says its customers rarely encounter congestion – even during peak times – and to prove it, publishes bandwidth (CVC) 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 99Mbps on NBN 100 plans, 50Mbps on NBN 50 plans, and 25Mbps on NBN 25 plans. That puts it equal with Telstra, Optus, Superloop, and SpinTel on all plans other than NBN 100, where it is just 1Mbps slower.
Aussie also has a rather unusual NBN 75 speed tier, sitting between NBN 50 and NBN 100 in terms of price. It reports typical evening speeds of 66Mbps on NBN 75 plans.
Aussie Broadband is part of the providers offering speeds faster than NBN 100. It currently reports typical evening speeds of 248Mbps on its NBN 250 plan, which makes it the fastest option around in terms of typical evening speeds. It reports 600Mbps on NBN 1000 plans, putting it in second place behind Telstra when it comes to gigabit-capable plans.
Again, NBN 250 plans are only available to FTTP customers and 97% of HFC customers. NBN 1000 plans are only available to FTTP customers, and 58% of HFC customers.
iPrimus is another NBN provider that’s recently benefited from a big speed increase. It now reports 50Mbps on NBN 50 plans and 95Mbps on NBN 100 plans. iPrimus also has an NBN 250 plan, but it has yet to provide evening speed guidance for it.
Sibling brand Dodo sits right behind iPrimus with similar speed guidance. It reports 25Mbps on NBN 25 plans, 50Mbps on NBN 50 plans, and 92Mbps on NBN 100 plans.
Tangerine used to be pretty middle of the road when it comes to evening speeds, but it has recently delivered a decent boost to its numbers. Customers can expect 25Mbps on NBN 25 plans, 50Mbps on NBN 50 plans, 92Mbps on NBN 100 plans, and 205Mbps on NBN 250 plans.
Tangerine is unique in that it offers customers a 14-day risk-free trial. If you’re not happy within your first fortnight with the telco, you can leave and get a full refund of your plan fees. Modem fees won’t be refunded, but Tangerine’s modems are unlocked and will work with other providers.
Exetel’s plans aren’t quite as fast as the competition but it’s still saying customers can expect 90% of their plan’s maximum speeds during peak hours. It reports typical evening speeds of 22Mbps on NBN 25 plans, 45Mbps on NBN 50 plans, and 90Mbps on NBN 100 plans.
Vodafone says NBN 100 customers will get typical evening speeds of 85Mbps, NBN 50 customers will get evening speeds of 46Mbps, and NBN 25 customers will get evening speeds of 23Mbps.
If you’re an existing Vodafone mobile customer, you can get a $15 per month discount on any NBN plan.
Vodafone offers NBN 250 and NBN 1000 plans, but these are not available online at this stage. To get one, you’ll need to call Vodafone.
Kogan Internet is quite literally Vodafone NBN by another name. You miss out on discount bundling and the optional 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, 46Mbps on NBN 50 plans, and 23Mbps on NBN 25 plans. It also has NBN 250 and NBN 1000 plans, typical evening speeds of 200Mbps and 250Mbps, respectively.
TPG’s evening speeds have fluctuated a lot over the course of the last few years. They’ve gone from 80Mbps to 95Mbps back down to 85Mbps on NBN 100 plans.
TPG also reports typical evening speeds of 48Mbps on NBN 50 plans, 22Mbps on NBN 25 plans, and 12Mbps on NBN 12 plans.
iiNet unsurprisingly reports identical evening speeds to stablemate TPG. This means you can expect 85Mbps on NBN 100 plans, 48Mbps on NBN 50 plans, and 22Mbps on NBN 25 plans.
Unlike TPG, iiNet also has NBN 250 and NBN 1000 plans. It reports typical evening speeds of 200Mbps on both.
Internode continues the trend with identical evening speeds to TPG and iiNet. Once again, that’s 85Mbps on NBN 100 plans, 48Mbps on NBN 50 plans, and 22Mbps on NBN 25 plans.
Internode also has NBN 250 and NBN 1000 plans where it reports typical evening speeds of 200Mbps on both.
MATE sits toward the lower end of the speed spectrum, 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. It also has an NBN 250 plan with typical evening speeds of 208Mbps.
MATE’s NBN plans are reasonably well priced, and you can save 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 8GB and are powered by the Telstra network. The $25 per month option with 18GB is definitely a better buy, however.
MyRepublic also does an okay 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.
MyRepublic also reports typical evening typical evening speeds of 200Mbps on NBN 250 plans and 350Mbps on NBN 1000 plans. This makes it the third fastest major provider around when it comes to NBN 1000 plans.
Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website.