Sick of waiting for the NBN or are you just looking for something different? Good news – there actually are alternatives.
And we can’t really blame you. Over the last few months NBN technicians have gone on strike multiple times due to the state of the roll out, the booking system and worker treatment.
There are two main NBN alternatives worth considering if you don’t want to go with a boutique fibre provider: home wireless broadband and mobile broadband. Both are powered by 4G mobile networks, and can come with data allowances exceeding 200GB.
This might not be enough data to replace a fixed line connection (NBN, ADSL or Cable) for everyone, but for some this kind of mobile connection can be a great alternative.
Here’s what you need to know about home wireless broadband and mobile broadband, and some of the best plans for each.
4G home wireless broadband
Home wireless broadband plans are designed for home use, which means the modems require a constant power source. On the plus side, this means the modems are a bit more robust, and have extras like multiple gigabit Ethernet ports.
Some home wireless broadband plans have speed caps, while others run at full 4G speeds. For example, SpinTel limits speeds to 12Mbps on its cheaper plans, while iiNet and Internode cap at 20Mbps.
You’ll pay $49.95 per month on SpinTel for 200GB, while iiNet and Internode are both offering unlimited data for $59.99 per month. Both iiNet and Internode are also offering new customers their first month free.
These plans are all offered on a contract-free basis. Just be aware that you’ll need to add on a modem purchase with your SpinTel plan. These start at $260 outright (with $20 extra in postage). iiNet and Internode’s plans come with a free modem, but you’ll need to return it if you leave.
SpinTel is powered by the Optus network, and iiNet and Internode are powered by the Vodafone network.
You can also get home wireless broadband plans with uncapped 4G speeds. In our testing, we’ve experienced speeds between 20Mbps and 50Mbps via Optus 4G home wireless providers.
Moose and Optus both offer 200GB for $59 per month, but you’ll have to pay up-front modem fees. You can get around this with Optus but you’ll have to sign a 24-month contract.
If you want more data, SpinTel and Optus also have larger plans with 500GB.
5G home wireless broadband
5G is set to make home wireless broadband better – if you can get it.
Right now, you’ve got two main options for a 5G home internet service: Optus and SpinTel. SpinTel resells Optus 5G, so the service and modem you get should be identical.
SpinTel is technically the cheaper of the pair, with an unlimited plan at $70 per month for your first six months and $90 per month thereafter. You don’t need to sign a contract, but you have to return your modem when you leave.
Optus’s plans start at $75 per month with speeds capped to 100Mbps, or you can pay $90 per month for uncapped speeds. In both cases, you can either commit to a 24-month contract, or pay a $200 start-up fee.
Telstra is trialling 5G home internet plans, but these are currently sold on an invite-only basis. It’s not clear when they’ll be more widely available.
4G mobile broadband
As the name might suggest, mobile broadband is an internet connection similar to the kind you get on your smartphone. The majority of mobile broadband plans are powered by 4G networks, with pricing similar to what you’d get on a standard mobile plan but with a larger data allowance.
The average mobile broadband plan has less data than a home wireless broadband plan, you won’t deal with speed caps, and they can be more flexible.
The dongles and portable hotspots you use with a mobile broadband plan tend to be battery-powered, so they’re great for hitting the road.
Alternatively, you can just get a SIM-only mobile broadband plan and use it with your own hotspot, a tablet, or even a spare phone.
Here are some SIM-only mobile broadband plans with at least 100GB. Just be aware that you’ll need to bring your own modem with these.
Optus is one of your cheapest big data options, charging $50 per month for 150GB. This allowance will revert to 75GB after your first year, but the plan is contract-free.
If you’re after a little more data, SpinTel is doing 200GB for $54.95 per month for your first six months, and $59.95 per month thereafter. SpinTel is powered by the Optus network.
Telstra has the largest mobile broadband plan around with a massive 400GB allowance. You’ll pay $75 per month for your first year, and $85 per month thereafter.
5G mobile broadband
In addition to 4G mobile broadband, you can also opt for faster 5G mobile broadband. Of course, this does require a hotspot or modem with 5G network support.
Telstra is the only telco with a 5G-ready portable hotspot available. Your cheapest option is the Telstra 5G Wi-Fi Pro, which will add $19.95 per month to your bill.
Not all Telstra mobile broadband plans support 5G. You need the telco’s 75GB plan at a minimum, but if you’re looking at actually replacing your NBN connection, the aforementioned 400GB plan is the better pick.
Here are Telstra’s 5G-ready mobile broadband plans. Note that these exclude modem costs:
Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website.