Best 5G home internet in Australia: is the NBN alternative for you?

5G data signal beaming around a city
(Image credit: Mate)

Some of Australia's best 5G home internet plans can be true alternatives to the NBN — or even the best NBN plans. If you live in an eligible 5G internet coverage area or you can't access a standard NBN fixed-line connection, you may be able to achieve high speeds via a 5G home broadband plan. 

This is because the big three telcos — Telstra, Optus and Vodafone — have invested more in 5G technology and have rolled it out in five of Australia's major cities: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Canberra (but only in select areas within these). 

Therein does lie limitations of 5G home broadband. To truly take advantage of the technology, you need to reside in an area with good 5G network coverage. Telstra currently offers the farthest-reaching 5G coverage, claiming to cover 80% of the Australian population. Optus and Vodafone claim to cover Australian cities, but not to the same extent as Telstra.

If you live in an area with 5G network coverage and 5G home internet is available (5G mobile coverage doesn't necessarily mean there's decent 5G home internet coverage), it might be worth reconsidering your home internet options. It could give you speeds similar to NBN for a cheaper monthly price or internet speeds faster than NBN for a similar fee.

Best 5G home internet plans

Because 5G is still in its relative infancy, there's only a small number of telcos who currently supply it. The three major telcos of Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone all offer plans, along with a handful of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) including Spintel and iiNet. 

Here are some of the best 5G home internet plans on offer right now.

Telstra 5G Home Internet | Uncapped speed | 1TB data | No lock-in contract | First month AU$1 | AU$85p/m ongoing 

Telstra 5G Home Internet | Uncapped speed | 1TB data | No lock-in contract | First month AU$1 | AU$85p/m ongoing 

Telstra’s 5G home broadband plan has a monthly data cap of 1TB, so if you're an avid gamer needing to download large files regularly, this likely won't be a good option for you. If you do go over the data cap, then you're still free to use the service, but speeds will be capped at 25Mbps.

For everyone else, however, this Telstra 5G home internet plan could prove to be far better than any equivalent fixed-line NBN plan. This is because typical speeds are advertised at 548Mbps (and speeds can reach up to 878Mbps), depending on the network coverage in your area. This comfortably makes it faster than even the best NBN 250 plans

You get the modem included and your first month for just AU$1 to try it out. Telstra also throws in a few extras for free, including 2 months of Binge and 4 months of Spotify Premium. Do note, however, that these free trials can only be accepted by new customers to the services.

Telstra's 5G home internet plan is one of the most expensive in Australia, and there is a data cap to consider, but it also promises the fastest speeds in return. This makes it the best advert for 5G home broadband, if you live in an eligible area.

Total cost for first 12 months: AU$936

Optus Plus Entertainer Superfast 5G | Uncapped | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$89p/m

Optus Plus Entertainer Superfast 5G | Uncapped | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$89p/m (for 6 months, then AU$99p/m)

This Optus 5G home internet plan advertises uncapped data speeds, meaning it could potentially rival even the best NBN 1000 plans if you have good coverage — you should even be able to reach superfast 240Mbps speeds during the busier evening hours of 7pm to 11pm. The current introductory offer also brings this plan down to just AU$89p/m — that’s a saving of AU$10p/m — before the price increases to AU$99 p/m. 

Optus' Superfast 5G plan also includes a standard Netflix subscription in the price (valued at AU$16.99), and includes a modem with your service. However, if you cancel within 36 months, you will be charged $13p/m left of a 36 month period. This makes the minimum cost of an Optus 5G home broadband plan AU$468 if you leave after one month.

Total cost for first 12 months: AU$1,128

TPG 5G Home Broadband Premium | 100Mbps| Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$54.99p/m

TPG 5G Home Broadband Premium | 100Mbps| Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$54.99p/m (for six months, then AU$64.99p/m)

TPG offers two speed tiers of 5G home internet: 50Mbps and 100Mbps. We’ve chosen the 100Mbps Premium tier as our recommended plan, for its higher speed and relative affordability. TPG also offers the first month free and, similarly to other telcos, supplies the modem for free, based on a 36 month period. If you cancel and don’t return the modem, you’ll be subject to a non-return fee. 

While TPG’s first year cost is one of the lowest of all the providers for 100Mbps speeds of 5G home internet, because of its still limited nature, we would still suggest signing up for one of the best NBN 50 plans or NBN 100 plans, as they're more widely available and can cost roughly the same each month. 

Total cost for first 12 months: AU$719.88

Vodafone 5G Home Internet Premium| 100Mbps | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$60p/m

Vodafone 5G Home Internet Premium| 100Mbps | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$60p/m (for six months, then AU$70p/m)

Vodafone offers two 5G home internet plans too, both of which have speed caps, at either 50Mbps or 100Mbps. There is a AU$5p/m difference between the two and we’ve selected the 100Mbps option here. If you have a mobile phone plan with Vodafone you can save AU$5p/m. 

The required 5G modem is included for free, as long as you stay connected for 36 months. If you cancel, Vodafone says you must return the modem within 30 days and in good condition, or you’ll be subjected to a non-return fee. This is charged at AU$17 per month left in the 36 month period. 

Total cost for first 12 months: AU$780

Spintel 5G Home Internet | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | Modem included | AU$83p/m

Spintel 5G Home Internet | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | Modem included | AU$83p/m (for 3 months, then AU$93p/m)

Spintel’s 5G home internet service piggybacks off of the Optus 5G network and offers similar tiers: capped at 50Mbps, 100Mbps and uncapped. For the uncapped tier, advertised typical evening speeds reach 240Mbps. 

Spintel is currently offering AU$10 off all plans for the first three months. It's with this in mind that we've selected the uncapped tier. Do note though, Spintel charges an extra AU$4p/m for modem rental — and AU$20 for its subsequent postage — so it may be worth shopping around for a better deal if you require a modem. 

The first 12 months on this plan do cost more than competitors, but if you can achieve truly uncapped speeds, we feel it's a sound investment. 

Total cost for first 12 months: AU$1,063

iiNet 5G Home Broadband | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$59.99p/m

iiNet 5G Home Broadband | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$59.99p/m (for six months, then AU$69.99p/m)

iiNet also uses the Vodafone 5G network, offering the same 50Mbps and 100Mbps capped speed tiers. For a AU$10 premium over the 50Mbps plan, we feel the 100Mbps offers the best value at AU$59.99p/m.

The company currently offers the first month of service for free and as with most other telcos, iiNet will charge a no-return fee if you cancel your service and fail to return the modem within 21 days. This is charged at AU$17 per month left on a 36 month period.

Total cost for first 12 months: AU$719.88

What is 5G home internet?

5G home internet works in much the same way as 5G mobile internet. It relies on 5G data signals being sent from antennas to a modem in your home, which receives the signal and sends it out as a Wi-Fi signal. You then connect your devices to the Wi-Fi network in the same way you would if you had an NBN connection. 

5G has the capability to support greater capacity and faster speeds than the previous 4G technology, and can even achieve speeds greater than the NBN. 

How fast is 5G home broadband?

5G home broadband can theoretically achieve speeds up to 1,000Mbps, although in reality, you're unlikely to experience such speeds. Telstra offers some of the fastest average 5G home broadband download speeds, at 378Mbps. However, the telco says real world speeds can range from anywhere between 50Mbps - 600Mbps.

5G home internet plans may cap speeds at 50Mbps or 100Mbps, but some offer uncapped speeds. The speed you can get will depend on the strength of the network in your area. 

Is 5G home internet better than NBN?

While 5G home internet can potentially achieve much faster speeds than NBN, its availability is currently far more limited. However, if 5G home broadband is available in your area, it is much easier to get connected to the internet. You don’t need to have a technician come to your address to install any equipment – instead, when your 5G modem arrives, you just need to plug it in, wait for it to connect to a 5G signal, and you’re done. 

It’s not necessarily better than NBN, but if you are in an area that can take advantage of 5G, then we definitely recommend it as something to consider. 

What is the cheapest 5G home internet?

The cheapest 5G home internet plan in Australia is provided by either TPG or iiNet. Both telcos currently offer a 5G home internet plan that costs AU$59.99p/m, which come with the first month free. 

Optus also currently has a 5G home internet plan that costs AU$69p/m for the first 6 months, before increasing to AU$79p/m.

Do note though, all of these 5G plans mentioned have their download speed capped to a maximum of 50Mbps.

When will 5G internet be available in my area?

If you live in one of Australia's major cities, there's a pretty good chance you'll already have access to a 5G network. If you're not currently in an area served by 5G, then you will almost definitely be able to connect to a 4G signal. 

The major telcos have all said they're working to make 5G available around the country, but naturally, these things take time. And, to make matters a little more confusing, just because you might be able to get a 5G connection on your smartphone, doesn't necessarily mean you will be able to get 5G home internet.

Click the links below to check the current 5G network coverage maps of each 5G home internet provider. 

Telstra
Optus
Vodafone
Spintel
TPG
iiNet

Max Langridge
Senior Editor, Tom's Guide AU

Max is a digital content writer for Tom’s Guide in Australia, where he covers all things internet-related, including NBN and the emerging alternatives, along with audio and visual products such as headphones and TVs. Max started his career in his homeland of England, where he spent time working for What Hi-Fi? and Pocket-lint, before moving to Australia in 2018.   

With contributions from