NBN Showdown: Telstra vs. Optus

NBN Showdown: Telstra vs. Optus
Both Telstra and Optus plans are sold on a no-contract basis but attract setup fees. Image: Supplied
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Telstra and Optus are a couple of Australia’s largest internet providers, but they both sit toward the more premium end of the pricing scale. Spending a little more can net you some perks like more reliable peak hour speeds and a few extras, but if you’re going to drop top dollar on your internet plan, which provider should you pick?

Speeds

Both Telstra and Optus report excellent typical evening speeds on plans as fast as NBN 100, advertising plan tier maximums on the speed tiers they offer.

NBN 1000

NBN 250

NBN 100

NBN 50

NBN 25

Telstra

700Mbps

230Mbps

100Mbps

50Mbps

25Mbps

Optus

250Mbps

215Mbps

100Mbps

50Mbps

If speed is your main consideration, there shouldn’t be any meaningful difference between Telstra and Optus if you’re after an NBN 100 or NBN 50 plan. Both report 100Mbps during peak hours on NBN 100 plans, and 50Mbps on NBN 50 plans. This means they should essentially be congestion-free.

Speeds vary more if you’re looking at plans faster than NBN 100, however. Telstra edges out Optus on the NBN 250 speed tier, reporting 230Mbps compared to Optus’ 215Mbps.

The gap is even wider when it comes to NBN 1000 plans. Telstra reports a massive 700Mbps on its NBN 1000 plan, which is currently the fastest evening speed guidance we’ve seen on the speed tier. Optus only reports 250Mbps on NBN 1000 plans.

Contracts and setup fees

Both Telstra and Optus plans are sold on a no-contract basis and can be had without set-up fees if you play your cards right.

While Telstra normally charges a $99 connection fee, it will currently waive it if you sign-up online. Optus plans no longer have a set-up fee.

Telstra plans include a second-generation Smart Modem, valued at $216. Just be aware that you’ll need to pay out the prorated value of your modem if you cancel your plan within your first 24 months with Telstra. This is equivalent to $9 per month left in your two-year term.

You’ll cop something similar if you go with Optus. Its bundled Ultra WiFi Modem is valued at $252, and you’ll need to pay out a prorated amount if you leave within your first 36 months. This is equivalent to $7 per month left in your three-year term.

If you want to add in a WiFi Booster to extend your network range (included in Optus’ “Ultimate” plans) you’ll need to pay it off too. This is valued at $216, which works out to a further $6 per month for each month left in your three-year term. This means you’re looking at a total exit fee of $13 per month you’ve got left. Ultimate plans are also $10 per month more expensive than Optus’ standard plans.

NBN 50 plans

When it comes to NBN 50, Optus plans start at $79 per month, while Telstra plans start at $90.

If you’re looking for extras, a further $10 per month on Optus takes you to its Ultimate plan, which includes a WiFi Extender. Optus will even waive the $10 per month difference for your first six months. As we mentioned earlier, nabbing this plan does however increase your prorated modem fee to $13 per month, up from $7 per month.

NBN 100 plans

When it comes to NBN 100 plans, Optus has two options: a basic plan, and an Ultimate plan featuring the WiFi Extender. On the basic plan, you’re looking at $89 per month for your first six months, then $99 per month.

On the Ultimate plan, you’ll pay $99 per month for your first six months, and $109 per month from that point on.
If you’d prefer Telstra, you’re up for $95 per month for your first six months, and $110 per month thereafter.

NBN 250 plans

Once again, you’ve got two choices for Optus NBN 250 plans. You’ll pay $104 per month for your first six months on its standard plan, and $134 per month once the promo period ends. If you want the Ultimate plan with a WiFi Extender, you’ll pay $114 per month for your first six months, and $144 per month afterwards.

Telstra’s NBN 250 plan will set you back $125 per month for your first six months and $140 per month thereafter. NBN 250 plans are available to those with FTTP or HFC NBN connections.

NBN 1000 plans

It’s a similar story with NBN 1000 plans. Optus is charging $124 per month for your first six months on its standard NBN 1000 plan, and $154 per month thereafter. Adding in the WiFi Extender takes this to $134 per month and $164 per month, respectively.

On Telstra, you’ll pay $165 per month for your first six months and $165 per month from that point on.

NBN 1000 plans are available to FTTP premises, and about 50% of HFC premises.

Extras

Given both Telstra and Optus and NBN plans are at the premium end of the pricing spectrum, it’s natural to expect a few perks.

Firstly, both Telstra and Optus’ bundled modems offer 4G backup if your NBN goes down. In the event of an outage, you’ll be able to stay online with 4G download speeds of 25Mbps.

Big T customers also get access to the Telstra Plus perks program. Telstra Plus members get:

  • $12.50 movie tickets for Event and BCC cinemas, excluding sessions after 5:00 pm on a Saturday, public holidays, and special events. A $3 surcharge applies after 5:00 pm on Saturdays and on public holidays
  • Free popcorn and drink large combo upgrade when you book a movie ticket through Telstra
  • Discounted tickets to select sporting events
  • Presale tickets for select concerts and events

You’ll need to join Telstra Plus to get these offers.

Telstra is currently giving new NBN subscribers three months of free access to Binge.

In addition, joining Telstra Plus earns 10 points for every dollar you spend on your monthly bill as part of a Frequent Flyer style rewards scheme. You can spend these points on selected gadgets or use the points discounts on devices.

As of April this year, Optus no longer has a perks program. However, you can still score discounted movie tickets for Hoyts cinemas. These will set you back $12.50 for an adult ticket or $27 for LUX for any session on any day (including Saturday nights).

Optus NBN customers also get themselves a free Optus Sport subscription. You’ve also got the option of bundling in a Fetch TV subscription starting at $10 per month, but you won’t get a discount for doing so.

What about the rest?

If Telstra or Optus don’t seem right for you, here’s a look at how their NBN 50 plans stack up to the competition:

Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website.

This article has been updated since its original publish date.

Comments

  • What about lower speed options? I have a 25/5 200Gb NBN plan that meets all of my needs for surfing, streaming and video conferencing. There are many other people who don’t need high priced plans. How many people have been oversold?

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