When it comes to the NBN, we know that plans and providers are not all equal. While every internet service provider is technically reselling access to the same network, their individual performances can vary a lot, especially during the evening peak times.
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 provider doesn’t have enough bandwidth to go around, you can expect a digital traffic jam. It can be a real drag if you’re paying for an expensive NBN plan, only for it to slow down to a snail’s pace because everyone in your neighbourhood wants to get their stream on.
Thanks to the ACCC, NBN providers reveal what kind of typical speeds you can realistically expect to get during those 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.
Before we start, here’s a snapshot of the providers with the fastest NBN 100 plans around:
Telstra is one of the best performers on every speed tier, ostensibly promising congestion-free plans. The telco reports typical evening speeds of 100Mbps on NBN 100 plans, 50Mbps on NBN 50 plans, and 25Mbps on NBN 25 plans. That means customers shouldn’t ever encounter any slowdown.
Telstra is also one of the fastest providers around when it comes to NBN 250, reporting typical evening speeds of 250Mbps.
NBN 250 plans are only available to FTTP and HFC customers. NBN 100 plans are only available to FTTP customers, and over 90% of HFC customers.
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 also has NBN 250 and NBN 1000 plans, but the speeds are fairly standard for their tiers: 240Mbps and 300Mbps, respectively.
SpinTel is also part of the congestion-free club, advertising 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.
Pennytel is a fairly recent player in the NBN space and has hit the ground running with congestion-free plans on the four main speed tiers. This means you can expect typical evening speeds of 12Mbps on NBN 12 plans, 25Mbps on NBN 25, 50Mbps on NBN 50, and 100Mbps on NBN 100.
Since being acquired by Superloop earlier in the year, Exetel has upped its evening speeds and introduced faster plan tiers. It reports 12Mbps on NBN 12 plans, 25Mbps on NBN 25, 48Mbps on NBN 50, 97Mbps on NBN 100, 225Mbps on NBN 250, and 245Mbps on NBN 1000.
Aussie Broadband is now the fifth-largest NBN provider and one of the few that 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 97Mbps on NBN 100 plans, 48Mbps on NBN 50 plans, and 24Mbps on NBN 25 plans. 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 73Mbps on NBN 75 plans.
You can also get NBN 250 and NBN 1000 plans on Aussie Broadband. It reports 243Mbps on NBN 250 plans, and 600 on NBN 1000 plans. This puts it just behind Telstra on both speed tiers.
iPrimus upped its NBN speeds in a big way earlier this year. It now reports 50Mbps on NBN 50 plans, 95Mbps on NBN 100 plans, and 215Mbps on NBN 250 plans.
Telstra’s budget brand Belong isn’t quite as impressive as Big T itself when it comes to typical evening speeds, but it still reports solid performance across the board. You can expect 25Mbps on NBN 25 plans, 48Mbps on NBN 250 plans, and 95Mbps on NBN 100 plans.
Belong also has a long-standing promo where new NBN customers can an $80 SIM to try its mobile plans.
Superloop is one of the faster NBN providers around, reporting great typical evening speeds across the board: 22Mbps on NBN 25 plans, 48Mbps on NBN 50 plans, and 93Mbps on NBN 100 plans. In addition, it reports typical evening speeds of 240Mbps on its NBN 250 plans, and 500Mbps 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.
MyRepublic has also increased evening speeds lately, reporting 50Mbps on NBN 50 plans and 93Mbps on NBN 100 plans. If you’re looking for even faster plans, expect typical evening speeds of 200Mbps on NBN 250 plans and 350Mbps on NBN 1000 plans.
Dodo is the sibling brand to iPrimus, but its speeds are just a touch slower on NBN 100 plans. It reports 25Mbps on NBN 25 plans, 50Mbps on NBN 50 plans, and 92Mbps on NBN 100 plans.
Tangerine is one of the more popular budget NBN options but still delivers solid evening speeds. 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.
Vodafone says NBN 100 customers will get typical evening speeds of 90Mbps, NBN 50 customers will get evening speeds of 50Mbps, and NBN 25 customers will get evening speeds of 25Mbps. If you’re lucky enough to be eligible for a faster speed tier, Vodafone reports 200Mbps on NBN 250 plans and 250Mbps on NBN 1000 plans.
If you’re an existing Vodafone mobile customer, you can get a $15 per month discount on any NBN plan.
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. 90Mbps on NBN 100 plans, 50Mbps on NBN 50 plans, and 25Mbps 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, but they’re now identical to Vodafone.
This means you can expect typical evening speeds of 12Mbps on NBN 12 plans, 25Mbps on NBN 25 plans, 50Mbps on NBN 50 plans, 90Mbps on NBN 100 plans, 200Mbps on NBN 250 plans, and 250Mbps on NBN 1000 plans.
iiNet unsurprisingly reports similar evening speeds to stablemate TPG. This means 25Mbps on NBN 25 plans, 50Mbps on NBN 50, 90Mbps on NBN 100, and 200Mbps on NBN 250. The main difference is you’ll only get typical evening speeds of 200Mbps on iiNet’s NBN 1000 plan.
Internode’s plans are identical to iINet’s in terms of typical evening speeds. 25Mbps on NBN 25 plans, 50Mbps on NBN 50, 90Mbps on NBN 100, and 200Mbps on NBN 250 and NBN 1000 plans.
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 10GB and are powered by the Telstra network. The $25 per month option with 20GB is definitely a better buy, however.
Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website.
This article has been updated with additional information since its original publish date.