The NBN is a complex beast. Buying a fast plan should be simple, but there are plenty of variables that can affect the speeds you get in practice.
Every ISP is technically reselling access to the same network, but the way in which providers like Telstra, TPG, and Aussie Broadband buy capacity from NBN Co means the speeds you’ll get on one provider may not be the same on another. This is especially true during busy periods, like at night when everyone is trying to binge Netflix at the same time.
To help you make an informed decision, NBN providers need to disclose the typical speeds you can realistically expect to get during peak hours – not just the NBN speed tier the plan is based on. Naturally, some do a better job than others.
Evening speeds can and do change, however. These changes are typically for the best. For example, many NBN 50 providers now report typical evening speeds of 50Mbps, meaning you shouldn’t see congestion on that speed tier. Some NBN 100 plans have gotten faster too.
So, to help you pick a provider that consistently delivers the speeds you’re after, we’ve rounded up some of the fastest plans around, based on the latest evening speed data major ISPs have released.
Before we start, it’s important to be aware that typical evening speeds disclosed by NBN providers are just an indication of the speeds you can reasonably expect during peak hours. There are other factors that can impact the speeds you get at home. These can include the technology you’re using to connect to the NBN, the hardware in your home, and any abnormally high usage in your area.
The fastest NBN 100 plans
Four telcos are currently reporting typical evening speeds of 100Mbps on NBN 100 plans: Telstra, Optus, SpinTel, and Exetel. That’s as close to congestion-free as you can get; you should theoretically get your maximum plan speeds no matter the time of day.
When it comes to these four, Telstra, Optus, and Exetel are all on the pricier side. In news that won’t shock anyone, Telstra is the most expensive major NBN provider around; you’ll pay $95 per month for your first year, and then $110 per month thereafter. Telstra NBN plans also include 4G back-up and a three-month free subscription to Binge.
Telstra NBN plans are contract-free, but you’ll need to pay out a modem fee if you leave within your first two years. This is equivalent to $9 multiplied by the number of months you’ve got left in your term.
Optus is a bit cheaper at $89 per month for your first six months and $99 per month thereafter. As with Telstra, you’ll get hit with a modem fee if you leave with your first three years. This is equivalent to $7 per month for each month remaining in your 36-month term.
This Optus NBN plan also includes a modem with 4G backup and an Optus Sport subscription.
Exetel’s NBN 100 plan goes for $95 per month, but it’s currently offering your first month free. The plan is contract-free, so you can always bail if you’re not happy with the service.
SpinTel is your cheapest option for a congestion-free NBN 100 plan, charging $74 per month for your first six months and $84.95 per month thereafter. Given most full price NBN 100 plans are at least $90 per month, that’s still a solid deal. SpinTel’s plans are also contract-free.
Aussie Broadband is a hair behind, reporting typical evening speeds of 99Mbps. Aussie is also on the pricier side, with its plans billed at $99 per month. You can however score your first month free by using the promo code FASTMONTH. The plan is contract-free, which means there’s nothing stopping you leaving after the free month if you change your mind.
The fastest NBN 50 plans
Speed isn’t really an important factor when it comes to picking NBN 50 plans anymore: the vast majority of providers are now all reporting typical evening speeds of 50Mbps. As such, performance should be identical whether you opt for a cheaper plan or something more premium.
SpinTel is again one of your cheapest options. You’ll pay $54 per month for your first six months, and then $64.95 per month thereafter. This makes it the cheapest full-price NBN 50 plan from any major provider.
Tangerine is up next, charging $54.90 for your first six months and $69.90 per month thereafter. In addition to being contract-free, the plan also had a 14-day risk-free guarantee. If you’re not happy in your first fortnight, you can get a full refund of plan fees.
Aussie Broadband and Exetel are both on the more expensive side for NBN 50 plans, at $79 and $75 per month respectively, but the pair have free month promos going. On Aussie Broadband, you’ll need to use the promo code FASTMONTH to get this deal. You don’t need to do anything to get the Exetel offer. In both cases, the plans are contract-free, so you can ostensibly try before you buy.
Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website.