If you’ve got unreliable NBN, it’s time to make a change. 5G home internet options have become more widely available, there are more 4G home internet plans than ever, and there are even a couple of supersized mobile broadband plans that are a suitable alternative to NBN.
While these NBN alternatives might not be right for every kind of user, home wireless broadband and mobile broadband plans can be genuine fixed line alternatives.
Here’s what you need to know about home wireless broadband and mobile broadband, and some of the best plans for both.
NBN alternative #1: 5G home wireless internet
5G isn’t available to everyone yet, but it’s become increasingly available over the last half a year or so. You’ll now find plans from Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, iiNet, TPG, Internode and SpinTel.
5G home internet plans are pretty self-explanatory – they’re 5G-powered internet solutions designed to work as an alternative to a fixed line connection such as the NBN. These plans are designed for home use, which means the modems require a constant power source. This does however mean the modems you get tend to be rather robust, and have extras like multiple gigabit ports.
5G home internet plans come in two different forms: capped and uncapped. If you get a capped plan, you’ll be limited to maximum speeds of 100Mbps, and may experience slightly slower connectivity during peak hours. That’s similar to most NBN 100 plans.
Here’s a look at the capped 5G home internet plans you can get with a free trial:
On the other hand, uncapped plans can go as fast as network conditions allow. When testing Optus 5G home internet, we experienced speeds as fast as 300Mbps. On Telstra 5G home internet, we’ve seen speeds over 500Mbps. Exact speeds will depend on your coverage and congestion, but 200Mbps is a pretty safe average.
Here’s a look at the uncapped 5G home internet plans you can get with a free trial:
At time of writing, the majority of 5G home internet providers are offering new customers their first month free. SpinTel is the main exception. For the most part, these trials are all risk-free. If you decide 5G home internet isn’t for you, you can simply cancel your plan without paying a cent, provided you return your modem to your telco.
This isn’t the case on Optus, however. If you pick up an Optus 5G home internet plan and you change your mind, you’ll get stung by a costly exit fee. If you cancel your Optus plan within your first 36 months, you’ll pay a modem fee equivalent to $16 for each month left in your three-year term. That’s a maximum of $576.
The only way to dodge Optus’ fee is if you can’t get speeds of at least 50Mbps. If that’s the case and Optus can’t help you improve them, you can return your modem and get out of the plan scot-free.
Telstra, Vodafone, iiNet, Internode, TPG and SpinTel all let you return your modem if you decide to cancel during or after your free trial.
NBN alternative #2: 4G home wireless broadband
If you can’t get 5G yet, 4G home wireless broadband works much the same way – the plans will just be a bit slower.
Some home wireless broadband plans have speed caps, while others run at full 4G speeds. The TPG family – TPG, iiNet, Internode, Vodafone and Kogan – all have 4G home internet plans with unlimited data, but you’ll be restricted to download speeds of 20Mbps. That’s just a bit slower than NBN 25.
If you want faster home wireless broadband, the likes of Optus and SpinTel offer plans with uncapped 4G speeds. In our testing, we’ve experienced speeds between 20Mbps and 50Mbps via Optus 4G home wireless providers.
NBN alternative #3: 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 4G home wireless broadband plan, but 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.
SpinTel is one of your cheapest options for a big data plan, 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.
Belong has the largest mobile plan around with a 500GB allowance billed at $70 per month. Telstra trails with a 400GB plan. You’ll pay $75 per month for your first years, and $85 per month thereafter. Telstra’s offer runs until April 25.
NBN alternative #4: 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. As it stands, Telstra and Optus are the only telcos with a 5G-ready portable hotspot available.
On Telstra, your cheapest option is the Telstra 5G Wi-Fi Pro, which will add $19.95 per month to your bill in device costs on a 24-term month if you pick it up before April 18.
Not all Telstra mobile broadband plans support 5G. If you want next-generation coverage, you’ll need to opt for 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 is Telstra’s 5G-ready mobile broadband plan. Note that this excludes modem costs:
On Optus, your only 5G portable hotspot option is the ZTE 5G Modem. This will add $18.12 per month to your bill on a 24-month term. As with Telstra, only select mobile broadband plans have 5G connectivity – Optus’ 60GB and 100GB options.
Here are Optus’ 5G-ready mobile broadband plans. Once again, these exclude modem costs:
Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website. This article has been updated since it was first published and contains up to date information as of April 21.