NBN Plans Are About to Get More Expensive, Try 5G Home Internet Instead

NBN Plans Are About to Get More Expensive, Try 5G Home Internet Instead
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NBN Co is upping its wholesale pricing for some NBN plans on July 1, and we’re already seeing telcos announce impending price changes. The largest price bump will be to NBN 50 plans, though how much extra will depend on each provider. So far, the planned increases have been around $5 per month. Given NBN 50 plans accounted for 52% of the market this time last year, it’s roughly even odds you’ll either be paying more in the near future or looking for a cheaper option. In most of Australia, the best alternative to the NBN is 5G home wireless. 

Home wireless connections use the same networks as your mobile phone, paired with a 4G or 5G WiFi modem in your home. But unlike a mobile plan, home wireless plans have capped speeds. 4G home wireless generally can’t go past 20Mbps, whereas 5G is split into 50Mbps, 100Mbps and uncapped speed tiers.

These 5G home wireless plans can be as fast or faster than an NBN connection, but it of course depends on coverage in your area, as well as other potential factors such as local network congestion.

For an NBN 50 alternative, a 50Mbps 5G home wireless plan is the best comparison. Even before the NBN price increase, they’re sometimes cheaper. So it’s well worth considering trying one out. 

Both connection types have the same download speed cap, though upload speeds differ a bit – 5G tends to have between 10Mbps and 15Mbps uploads, whereas NBN 50 offers around 20Mbps.

Here’s a look at some of the cheapest NBN 50 plans on the market:

There aren’t as many 5G home internet providers, but here are 50Mbps plans from the bigger names:

Be sure to note the introductory discounts of all these 5G plans (except Yomojo’s) when comparing prices – though plenty of NBN 50 plans also have this kind of deal.

While we’re at it, we can compare the 100Mbps and uncapped 5G home internet plans to NBN 100 and NBN 250, respectively.

For the most part, there haven’t been many announcements about price increases for NBN 100 plans. But a 100Mbps 5G home internet plan can still look pretty good if your NBN connection isn’t bringing you joy.

The speed comparison between these two options is pretty straightforward. NBN 100 offers download speeds up to 100Mbps and uploads of up to either 20Mbps or 40Mbps, depending on the plan – though most are the former. 5G home wireless plans with a 100Mbps speed cap have the same max downloads and generally 15Mbps uploads.

Most NBN 100 plans these days perform within the mid-to-high 90s in terms of megabits per second for downloads, whereas the typical evening speeds for 5G home wireless plans are a bit more varied – between 75Mbps and 100Mbps, depending on the plan.

Here are some of the cheapest NBN 100 plans on the market right now:

And here’s a look at 5G home wireless plans with a 100Mbps speed cap:

Once we get to uncapped 5G home wireless, the comparison gets a bit more interesting. Your experience here will very much depend on 5G coverage in your area, and reported typical evening speeds can vary by 80Mbps between providers. But they’re all between 210Mbps and 300Mbps, making them a good alternative to an NBN 250 plan.

That said, a few telcos have announced their NBN 250 plans will actually be getting cheaper. This used to be the area where 5G truly shone in comparison to the NBN, but the price gap might shrink in the coming months.

Here are some of the cheapest NBN 250 plans around right now (current pricing):

And here are 5G home internet plans with uncapped speed:

What are the pros and cons of 5G home wireless?

For 5G plans with a 50Mbps speed cap, the biggest pro is the pricing, which will be even more attractive once NBN 50 fees start to rise. But 5G can also be a good option if your NBN isn’t up to snuff, be it because of slow speeds or unreliable performance.

Most plans also come with a free 5G modem, which you can usually return (in good condition) and avoid paying a hardware fee if you leave your plan within the first 24 or 36 months. The exception is Optus, which will charge you a modem fee of $13 for each month short of 36 you are when you cancel, for a maximum of $468 if you bail immediately after signing up.

There are some cons, such as network coverage and latency. As with a mobile plan, the performance of 5G in your home depends on the 5G networks in your area. It can also be affected by other factors such as trees, hills or other physical obstacles directly around your premises. And if there’s an event in your area that draws large crowds, the influx of mobile phones can cause congestion on the local towers.

Latency (you might know it as ‘ping’) is generally only a consideration for online gamers. There isn’t a huge amount of hard data about latency on Australia’s 5G networks, but what little there is suggests it’s not as good as the average fixed-line NBN connection. In most cases it shouldn’t be a dealbreaker, unless you’re a genuine Esport competitor.

Alex Angove-Plumb is a journalist at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website


The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.

At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.

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