Best NBN providers: 10 popular Australian telcos compared

NBN logo on lit up background
(Image credit: Future)

Finding the best NBN provider can sometimes be challenging, especially when you're unsure what ISP will suit you and your household's online needs. Some telcos connect to the NBN countrywide, whereas others offer more localised connections in specific cities, such as Sydney or Melbourne. What may be the "best" in your opinion may also differ greatly from someone else’s definition of which ISP works well for them. 

Here at Tom’s Guide, we consider two main factors when determining the best NBN providers: download speeds — especially during the busy evening hours — and monthly costs. With these checked off, we can start looking at customer service and any extras you might get thrown in for free with your chosen NBN plan. 

When it comes to speed, NBN providers will often advertise the typical evening speed you’ll likely achieve before you sign up. These speeds are a key indicator of the top speeds you’ll reach during the evening hours of 7pm to 11pm. The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) quarterly reports disclose whether select internet service providers (ISPs) meet, exceed or fail to reach advertised speeds across different tiers. 

NBN providers generally deliver on their promises of speeds, which means the next most important factor in your buying decision is the monthly cost. Remember, the big three telcos of Telstra, Optus, and TPG aren’t your only options, and some of the best NBN plans could be more affordable than you think.

To help give you a clearer depiction of the current NBN landscape, we’ve put together this guide, in partnership with WhistleOut, comparing the top 10 most popular NBN providers in the country. These ten providers are either established household names or are on their way to becoming one, and we’ve also included a couple of much smaller telcos with plenty to write home about.

1. Aussie Broadband

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• NBN 12 – NBN 1000 speed tiers
• Incredibly well-rated customer service
• Consistently good evening speeds
• Customers have the ability to customise plans to suit usage and/or budget needs

If a local, incredibly helpful customer service team is one of the most important factors for you when deciding on an NBN provider, then Aussie Broadband absolutely needs a mention. With over 5,500 glowing five star reviews on ProductReview, you can be practically guaranteed of a stellar service. Plus, the actual NBN service provided by Aussie Broadband is a decent one too. 

The ACCC did find that the telco ‘only’ delivered 97.2% of plan speeds during the busy evening hours in its most recent report, but if your home can support an Ultrafast NBN connection (capable of delivering a theoretical 1,000Mbps), Aussie Broadband is well worth considering, since it advertises typical speeds of 600Mbps (some of the fastest in Australia). 

Aussie Broadband also offers some of the best NBN plans for gaming, and can even show you how the network is performing in your area so you can determine how well it will support your online gaming sessions. 

It is fair to say however, that Aussie Broadband's NBN plans do veer towards the more expensive end of the budget scale, but considering you should get a service that works (and has incredible support if it doesn't) then it's a worthwhile investment in our opinion.

• Read our full Aussie Broadband review

2. Exetel


• NBN 25 – NBN 1000 speed tiers (Exetel classes it as NBN 500)
• Consistently good plan speeds
• 5 free My Speed Boost days per month
• Competitive pricing

Exetel is one of our favourite NBN providers here at Tom’s Guide. Not only does it offer competitive pricing across all the NBN speed tiers and consistently good speeds across all hours and in the evening, but we love its Speed Boost Days feature. This lets you boost your NBN speed to the next available tier for 24 hours. You get five free Speed Boost Days each month, but Exetel allows them to be rolled over into the next month if you don’t use them. You can bank up to a maximum of 30 days, and you also have the option of purchasing extra Boost Days, should you need them, for AU$2 each. 

Exetel was recently knocked off the top spot for download speed by Launtel, and in the ACCC’s latest report, delivered 102.7% of plan speeds across all hours. It also managed 100.9% of plan speeds during the typical busy evening period. 

Customer support does received a mixed response based on customer reviews, and we don't think the telco's Ultrafast plan presents particularly good value (we explain why in our review) but on the whole, Exetel consistently ranks among our favourite NBN providers.

• Read our full Exetel review

3. Launtel


• All NBN speed tiers catered to
• Pay per day and pause service on days you don't use it
• Upgrade and downgrade service whenever you want

Launtel is a much smaller telco you might not have heard of, but one that we promised earlier would get a mention on this list. Named after the city of Launceston, Tasmania, where it’s based, Launtel has earned its spot on this list because it appears to consistently over-deliver in official speed reports published by the ACCC. In the most recent, published in December 2023, the telco recorded plan speeds of a huge 105.8% across all hours and 103.8% during the busy period of 7pm-11pm. Both of these figures represent improvements over previous reports.

To be completely honest, however, Launtel NBN plans aren't the most affordable around, but instead sit somewhere in the middle of the telcos on this list. But, because Launtel charges internet access by the day, and you are able to pause it for days you don't need to use it. We're not entirely sure when or why that might be. Perhaps you go on holiday a lot? But it's nice to know the option is there. 

Launtel | NBN 100 | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$3.10 per day

Launtel | NBN 100 | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$3.10 per day

Launtel's NBN 100 plan, like all other speed tiers on offer, is charged by the day. At the time of publishing, Launtel is offering only AU$3.10p/d for its NBN 100 plan. Based on a 30 day month, this makes it AU$93p/m, which could be considered expensive when compared with other providers. 

But when you factor in the full 100Mbps guaranteed and excellent customer service, your money will be well spent.

4. Tangerine


• NBN 25 – NBN 1000 speed tiers available
• Some of the most affordable NBN plans 
• 14-day free trial to test out the service
 Excellent customer service

If you’re a budget-conscious consumer then Tangerine has to be one of your first ports of call when shopping around for a cheap NBN plan. The telco regularly offers unbeatable value across a variety of NBN plans and promises speeds that match, or come close to, what you should be able to achieve. Its NBN 25 and 50 plans, for example, promise those exact speeds. The NBN 100 plan, however, advertises 95Mbps typical evening speed. We don’t think many people would miss out on the 5Mbps, but we can understand some people expect to get what they pay for. 

One of the key selling points of a Tangerine NBN plan is a 14-day trial period, which lets you try out the service for yourself and if for whatever reason you’re not satisfied, you don’t have to sign on the dotted line. 

• Read our full Tangerine review

5. Spintel


• NBN 25 – NBN 100 plans available
• Multi-award-winning provider
• Congestion-free speeds on NBN 50 and NBN 100
• Affordable

Spintel is often singled out as the best NBN provider by our colleagues over at TechRadar, both for its impressive pricing and quality of service. Indeed, across the NBN speed tiers it offers (NBN 25, 50 and 100), Spintel can regularly be found at the more affordable end. 

And, when you consider that Spintel has for some time promised congestion-free speeds, you can be assured the speed you pay for is what you’ll get. Aside from this, many customers have praised Spintel’s customer service, with over 4,000 five star reviews online.

6. TPG


• NBN 12 – NBN 1000 speed tiers covered
• Low cost for TPG-supplied modem. Rebate if you buy your own.
 Performs well in broadband speed tests
 Affordable pricing

TPG is the last of Australia’s major telcos, and is merged with Vodafone. However, the two ISPs still operate separately, although they do offer similar services. There isn’t much to fault TPG — the NBN plans offered are affordable and they deliver a reliable service with consistently good speeds (although it didn’t quite achieve 100% of its plan speeds in the latest ACCC report). 

TPG doesn’t tend to offer much in the way of additional perks, compared to Telstra and Optus, although its introductory offers are usually attractive and the modem fee of AU$110 including delivery is one of the cheapest going. 

Read our full TPG review

7. Superloop


• NBN 25 – NBN 1000 speed tiers (Superloop classes its top tier as NBN 500)
 Owns its own infrastructure, resulting in more consistent speeds
• Good value for superfast NBN plans

Superloop burst onto the Australian broadband scene in 2019, promising super-fast speeds since it had its own infrastructure to deliver NBN to homes. It also promised such speeds without a high price tag, instead being very competitively priced. A few years on and Superloop continues to be an attractive option for anyone wanting some of the fastest possible NBN speeds. 

The retail service provider (RSP) promises 240Mbps on its NBN 250 plan and 600Mbps on its NBN 1000 plan, putting it on par with a number of other, more expensive providers and trailing only Telstra. At the time of writing, Superloop is currently offering the cheapest NBN 1000 plan in the country, with a total first year cost that is cheaper than some plans on the previous NBN 250 speed tier.

Read our full Superloop review

8. Optus


• NBN 50 – NBN 1000 plans available
 Delivers consistently fast download speeds
• Optus Sport available at a discount for Optus customers
• SubHub service to bundle subscription services together
• Modem has 4G backup

Optus shouldn’t need much introduction. As Australia’s third-largest telco (behind Telstra and the combined TPG group), it offers NBN plans around the country, with minimum speeds of 50Mbps. In the ACCC’s latest Measuring Broadband data report, published in April 2023, Optus performed incredibly well, delivering 101.9% of plan speeds during all hours and 100.6% during peak hours.

If you’re into live sport or you currently subscribe to a variety of streaming services, Optus could be a good option for you too. The telco owns the rights to broadcast the English Premier League in Australia through Optus Sport (though you’ll need to pay a monthly subscription fee). You can also bundle a number of streaming apps under one account, via the SubHub feature. 

Optus has also recently launched its latest modem with Wi-Fi 6 technology and 4G backup included, should your fixed-line service drop out. However, it’s the cost of the modem that is the chink in Optus’ otherwise shiny armour. Optus will give you the modem for free, but only if you stay connected to its NBN service for 36 months. Despite its plans being contract-free, if you choose to cancel your plan before the 36 month period finishes, then you’ll need to pay off the remaining cost.

Most other NBN providers work on a similar model, but give you the option of returning the modem within a specified timeframe to save paying any fees for it. 

Read our full Optus review

9. Telstra


• NBN 25 – NBN 1000 plans offered
 Australia's largest telco
 Extra perks including free subscriptions to various services including Binge, Spotify, Kayo & Apple TV+

Telstra is the largest telco in Australia by market share — although according to the ACCC’s most recent report, has lost some of that share to smaller NBN providers — now sitting on 41.5% of NBN customers. Telstra is a safe bet for Australians who want to connect to the NBN, as you’ll get a fast, reliable service. Telstra also offers a number of perks, and can have some attractive introductory offers, such as free subscriptions to various streaming services. 

Similarly to Optus, Telstra’s modem provides 4G backup, ensuring you stay online should your fixed-line service drop out for whatever reason. Speeds on the 4G backup service are capped at 25Mbps.

However, it must be said that Telstra NBN plans are some of the more expensive on the market. And, now that smaller, more affordable ISPs deliver just as good, if not better service than Australia’s number one, it certainly pays to shop around. 

10. Flip


• NBN 25 – NBN 250 plans on offer
• Plans starting at AU$39p/m
• NBN connections usually complete within 72 hours

Flip is an NBN provider we regularly recommend when searching for a new internet plan, due to it advertising maximum — or close to maximum — download speeds across its plans (up to 250Mbps NBN 250), yet somehow managing to charge much less than more established names. If you’re looking for the cheapest NBN plans, Flip is a reliable bet.

Notably, its NBN 12 plan is perfect for single person households, at only AU$39p/m for the first six months, before the price increases to AU$48.90p/m. Flip is also one of only a few providers to offer a seniors discount, which saves users 3% off regular plan prices and comes with the option to bundle a home phone call package. Flip has some pretty positive reviews for the most part, with customers valuing the customer service, affordability and easy set-up. 

Flip | NBN 25 | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract AU$44p/m

Flip | NBN 25 | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract AU$44p/m (for 6 months, then AU$48.90p/m)

Flip is the only provider we can find that offers an NBN plan for under AU$50 per month. However, at the time of publishing, this price is only available for the first six months of service, before it increases to AU$54.90 p/m. 

Nonetheless, this is still a pretty great deal for smaller households with less devices, coming in at an affordable monthly cost, and decent speeds too. 

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