Are you looking to compare the best internet plans in Australia? We've got you covered. Here at Tom's Guide, we know how important it is to have a stable and fast online experience, so we've rounded up all the best options to help you get the most bang for your buck.
We've also listed the pros and cons for the major NBN connection types, as well as NBN alternatives, like fixed wireless, satellite and 5G home internet (not to be confused with 5G mobile internet).
With plenty of choices on offer, it may be hard to decide what the best internet plan is for you. The biggest factor for most Aussies is where you live, as not all plans are available nationwide.
While more than 4.36 million households can currently access the NBN, not everyone can take full advantage of higher speed tiers or more stable, wired connections. A fixed wireless broadband plan or satellite internet may be your saving grace in these cases.
For other households, ADSL may be your only option, and in some cases, you might be able to (or perhaps be forced to) sign up for a private telco network that offers superfast speeds.
So, if you’re still struggling to find what plan is the right choice for you, we encourage you to read on as we compare the best internet options in Australia.
New NBN rivals
Why you can trust Tom's Guide
NBN isn't your only option when it comes to getting online in Australia. There are a number of NBN alternatives that could prove to be a better option for your home. These include 5G home internet, which uses one of Australia's various 5G mobile networks to get you online. In some cases, 5G could offer faster download speeds than what you can achieve through a fixed-line NBN connection.
Then there are companies such as GigaComm, which is a privately-owned telecommunications provider that has its own infrastructure of fibre optic cabling to deliver superfast — and perhaps most importantly, consistent — internet speeds. The main downside to GigaComm (and similar companies such as Opticomm) is that it's currently only available in limited parts of the country.
And, as already mentioned, there is satellite internet. NBN already has its own version of this, in the form of Sky Muster, but global provider Starlink (founded by Elon Musk) is now available nationwide. Because of the technology used by Starlink, and the much closer proximity of its satellites to the earth (compared to Sky Muster), Starlink promises quicker, more consistent speeds for those who wish to use the internet service.
Read on to find out more about each internet plan type, along with our picks of the current best deals to be found on each.
NBN is the National Broadband Network and the primary method Australians use to connect to the internet. NBN is accessed via both wired and wireless mediums, and within the wired medium, there are five different connection types which will dictate the maximum download speeds you're capable of achieving.
An NBN plan is generally a fine option for homes that require a stable internet connection, and for carrying out tasks such as online gaming or streaming 4K content. Homes with a high number of devices connecting to the internet also need a fast, stable internet connection and this is where the NBN can prove to be the most effective option.
5G home internet
While it works on a similar principle, 5G home internet isn’t the same as 5G mobile internet that you get on your smartphone. The best 5G home internet plans have the potential to offer lightning-fast download speeds, although the current reality suggests only speeds of up to 400Mbps are achievable. Various factors, such as network coverage and interference can have a dramatic effect on the speeds you experience.
One of the biggest upsides to 5G home internet is that it is much easier to install than NBN. This is because, by its very nature, it's wireless and so doesn’t require a physical wired connection. All you need to do is plug the supplied modem into a power outlet and wait for it to connect to a nearby 5G tower.
But, this is also where the downsides crop up, as 5G internet relies on having a strong connection to cellular towers nearby. It therefore isn’t yet available in all areas of the country, and inner city locations have been prioritised over regional.
Fixed wireless internet plans connect premises in regional and remote areas of Australia to the NBN. This is achieved by installing an outdoor antenna on a premises (usually on the roof), which connects to an NBN device installed inside the property, which then connects to a telco-supplied modem. This then connects to a local base tower via 4G LTE.
Download speeds on fixed wireless home internet connections currently range from 12Mbps to 75Mbps, but environmental factors and network congestion will play a huge role in determining the actual speed you achieve. Providers of fixed wireless internet aren't required to self-report typical evening download speeds.
Fixed wireless home internet is a good option for households in rural areas that don’t have access to either 5G networks or the main fixed-line NBN infrastructure. NBN has also said that if your home is eligible to receive a fixed wireless internet connection, then it won't be eligible for its Sky Muster satellite service.
A satellite internet plan uses, you guessed it, space-based satellites to get an internet connection into your home. Satellite internet plans are predominantly targeted at Australians in rural areas, where neither fixed-line or fixed-wireless internet connections are available.
Currently there are just two main providers of satellite internet plans in Australia: NBN, with its Sky Muster satellites, and Starlink, the worldwide internet solution from Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Starlink is now accessible nationwide, for all Australians.
Private telco networks
Private telco networks refer to companies such as GigaComm, OptiComm and Vocus (Vocus is targeted more at business customers rather than residential). These companies have installed their own optical fibre cabling and/or networking infrastructure in certain areas of Australia and offer applicable customers an alternative to (or replacement for) a high-speed NBN connection.
In most instances, customers can realistically reach download speeds of up to 1Gbps on these networks and, because fewer people will be using the private telco network infrastructure compared to NBN, these speeds can remain more consistent.
The main downside to private telco networks is their current limited availability. For now, most can only be found in select suburbs and within these, are predominantly installed in new or recently developed apartment blocks or housing estates.
ADSL is the connection many of us had to make do with before NBN was rolled out in Australia. ADSL uses copper cabling to transmit data and there are three versions available: ADSL, ADSL2 and ADSL2+.
ADSL home internet is much slower than NBN, with the fastest version, ADSL2+ only capable of speeds up to 24Mbps. Very few internet service providers in Australia continue to support ADSL, as the copper cables used have been (or are due to be) cut off, to make way for the faster fibre optic cables of NBN.
Telstra is the last remaining major provider of ADSL in Australia, and is only one of six telcos in total that continue to provide the service. Because ADSL is pretty scarce in Australia, monthly fees for it have risen considerably, with plans now starting from AU$59p/m, making it more expensive than NBN in some instances.
Internet plans FAQ
How do I check what internet plans are available at my house?
To check which NBN connection type you have at your address, head to the NBN Co website. If you want to check to see if you can access one of the private telco networks or for 5G network coverage in your area, follow the links below.
What internet speed should I get?
All NBN and private telco network internet plans are available with different download speeds, so determining the internet speed that’s best for you will depend on some combination of how many people live at the premises and how intensively they use the internet. For more information on which NBN speed is best for you, check out our in-depth guide.
Do I need a special modem?
In a word, yes. But the modem you require will be dependent on the connection type you have at your premises. When signing up to a new internet plan, your internet service provider should offer you the chance to buy a compatible modem/router through them – some provide a free unit if you stay connected for a set period (usually 24-36 months).
But some other ISPs work on a ‘bring-your-own’ basis, which means you need to buy your own modem.
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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.