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 roll over 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 three major providers that offer 4G backup in Australia: Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone. We’ll take a closer look at these providers below, but first, here’s how they compare when it comes to NBN 50 plans:
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 will also kick in if you’re dealing with internet issues.
You’ll get 4G download speeds of 25Mbps and upload speeds of 5Mbps whenever you need to use 4G. 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 $15 per month on its NBN 100, NBN 250, or NBN 1000 plan for your first six months. 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.
Only FTTP and HFC customers can get plans faster than NBN 100. All FTTP and HFC customers should be able to get NBN 250, but only about 50% of HFC addresses can currently get NBN 1000.
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’re after 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 NBN plans
Optus 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. Similar to Telstra, you’ll get download speeds of 25Mbps and upload speeds of 2Mbps when using 4G backup.
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 – referred to as Internet Ultimate plans – that come with a WiFi extender in addition to the modem with 4G backup. These plans are available on all speed tiers. Just be aware that this will increase your pro-rated modem fee to $13 per month left in your term.
Optus is currently offering a $10 per month discount on most of its NBN plans, other than its entry-level NBN 50 plan. This discount lasts for your first six months, after which you’ll pay full price. NBN 250 and NBN 1000 plans get a larger $30 per month discount for your first six months.
Vodafone NBN plans
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. Vodafone’s 4G speeds are capped to 12Mbps down and 1Mbps up, which is a bit slower than those offered by Telstra and Optus.
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:
If you’re a Vodafone postpaid mobile customer, you can save $15 per month on any Vodafone NBN plan.
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.
Aussie Broadband NBN plans
As part of a new mobile agreement with Optus, Aussie Broadband has said it plans to offer 4G backup for NBN later this year. At this stage, we’re not sure how this will work – whether it will be a standard feature, or a paid add-on with its own monthly fee.
Here are Aussie Broadband’s NBN plans:
If you sign up before the end of August, you can use the promo code FREEMONTH to get your first month free on any Aussie Broadband plan up to NBN 100. NBN 250 and NBN 1000 plans are excluded from this offer. Aussie Broadband NBN plans are contract-free.
Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website.