Best NBN plans: our expert picks, from cheapest to fastest

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Choosing the best NBN plan for your household isn’t always simple. While NBN may be one of the best internet plan options you can get in Australia, you have a number of factors to consider. 

Firstly, you need to find an internet service provider (ISP) that falls into your budget, but you also need to consider the NBN speed that will allow you and your household to surf, stream and download, without getting overloaded.

There are multiple NBN providers in Australia all vying for your custom including the three major telcos: Telstra, Optus and TPG. But there’s also an increasing number of other ISPs that offer great service, including Tangerine, Exetel and Aussie Broadband, to name just a few.

These smaller companies can, in some instances, be more affordable than the 'Big 3', offer aggressive introductory pricing, or even provide a faster service. Tasmanian-based ISP Launtel, for example, has previously bettered both Telstra and Optus when it comes to download speeds.

You’ll likely find that most NBN providers will discount the first six months of your internet plan, while others may offer an ongoing discount if you sign up to other utility services they offer. If you're keen to save as much as you can, be sure to check out our cheapest NBN plans guide. 

Here at Tom’s Guide, we’ve partnered with WhistleOut to compare NBN plans from over 30 Australian providers to pick our recommendations across the different speed tiers and find those that ultimately offer the best overall value. If you know which speed you’re after, simply click the links below to jump straight to that section. 

Jump to: 

Best NBN 25 plan – AU$44.90p/m from Tangerine (first 6m, then AU$59.90p/m)
Best NBN 50 plan – AU$53.95p/m from Exetel (first 6m months, then AU$74.95p/m)
Best NBN 100 plan – AU$65p/m from Southern Phone (for 12 months, then AU$85p/m)
Best NBN 250 plan – AU$83.95p/m from Exetel (first 6m, then AU$108.95p/m)
Best NBN 1000 plan – AU$99p/m from Superloop (first 6m, then AU$119)

Which is the best NBN provider?

Best NBN provider this month – Exetel

Best NBN provider this month – Exetel

We recommend Exetel as the best NBN provider for the majority of Australians this month. The company regularly delivers, and in some cases exceeds its advertised download speeds, but its My Speed Boost days feature is the icing on the cake. This feature allows customers on NBN 50, 100, 250 plans to boost their download speed up to the next tier (if the NBN connection type allows) for free, five times a month. You can also let your days rollover and bank up to 30. 

Exetel NBN plans are also competitively priced, but when you factor in the free boost in download speed, it makes for hard-to-beat-value.

Best NBN plans

We’ve performed a thorough comparison of all of the NBN plans currently available from over 30 providers, and picked out the best for each speed tier.

Note that if you’re looking for the fastest NBN 1000 (aka gigabit) speed tier, you have to make sure you have an FTTP or HFC NBN connection type at your property. If you don’t, you’ll have to select a plan on a slower speed tier or hope that your property is in line for an NBN upgrade.

Best NBN 25 plan

A cheap NBN plan for casual users

Tangerine | NBN 25 | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$44.90p/m

Tangerine | NBN 25 | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$44.90p/m (for 6 months, then AU$59.90p/m) 

All Australian internet providers will offer an NBN 25 plan, so when you’re looking for the best one for you, the monthly price will likely be the most influential factor. You also ideally want your NBN 25 plan to offer the maximum 25Mbps evening speed. 

Which is why we’ve chosen this Tangerine plan as our recommendation. You get the full 25Mbps download speed, unlimited data, and an affordable monthly cost – which is currently even more affordable with a $15p/m discount for the first 6 months. 

Total minimum cost: AU$44.90 | Total cost for first year: AU$628.80 | Yearly cost after discount: AU$718.80

Best NBN 50 plan

Best value plan for most users

Exetel | NBN 50 | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$53.95p/m

Exetel | NBN 50 | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$53.95p/m (for 6 months, then AU$74.95p/m)

The NBN 50 speed tier is the one that will suit most households and as a result, is incredibly competitive when it comes to pricing, making choosing the best overall NBN 50 plan a little trickier. 

Our pick? Exetel. It's not necessarily the cheapest NBN 50 plan (that title goes to Flip below) but we've chosen Exetel because of the added benefit of its Speed Boost Days feature. This, as explained earlier, lets you temporarily boost the speed of your service to the 100Mbps NBN 100 tier. You can boost your service five times a month for free, and rollover any unused days up to a total of 30. 

Total minimum cost: AU$53.95 | Total cost for first year: AU$772.80 | Yearly cost after discount: AU$899.40

Flip | NBN 50 | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$54.90p/m

Flip | NBN 50 | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$54.90p/m (for 6 months, then AU$64.90p/m) 

If it's the outright cheapest NBN 50 plan you're after, look no further than Flip. Still relatively new to the NBN scene compared to some of the best NBN providers, the Australian-owned Flip has racked up a number of positive reviews from current customers and advertises the full 50Mbps download speeds during the evening hours. 

In fact, Flip was even named Broadband Provider of the Year by our sister site, Mozo

Total minimum cost: AU$54.00 | Total cost for first year: AU$713.40 | Yearly cost after discount: AU$778.80

Best NBN 100 plan

If you have a multi-user household, or need more speed, this is our pick

Southern Phone | NBN 100 | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$65p/m

Southern Phone | NBN 100 | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$65p/m (for 12 months, then AU$85p/m)

We've chosen Southern Phone as our pick for the best NBN 100 plan due to its incredibly low cost. The telco is currently running a promotion that lets you lock-in a plan for AU$65p/m for a full 12 months, before reverting back to its regular price. Southern Phone also advertises the maximum 100Mbps download speeds during the busier evening hours. 

We should point out that we have read a fair few negative reviews against Southern Phone, but since it works on a no lock-in contract basis, you are free to leave if you feel the service isn't up to scratch. 

And, if you do decide to leave, then we can also recommend Flip or Exetel as being good options. They too advertise the maximum 100Mbps typical evening speeds, and both have good reviews. Exetel also has the added bonus of the Speed Boost Days feature, bumping you up to the 250Mbps tier. However, you will need an FTTP or HFC connection to take advantage of this. 

Total minimum cost: AU$65 | Total cost for first year: AU$780 | Yearly cost after discount: AU$1,0120

Exetel | NBN 100 | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$68.95p/m

Exetel | NBN 100 | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$68.95p/m (for 6 months, then AU$84.95 p/m)

Exetel is our other standout option on the NBN 100 tier, thanks to a combination of affordable pricing, reliable service and its Speed Boost feature. Not only did the ACCC find Exetel delivered 104.1% of advertised download speeds in its most recent report, but the My Speed Boost feature lets you boost to 250Mbps download speeds (if you have an FTTP or HFC connection), up to 5 times each month. If you want, you can bank these days up to a total of 30 days. 

Total minimum cost: AU$68.95 | Total cost for first year: AU$923.40 | Yearly cost after discount: AU$1,019.40

Best NBN 250 plan

If you're serious about NBN speed, this is the plan we recommend

Exetel | NBN 250 | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$83.95p/m

Exetel | NBN 250 | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$83.95p/m (for 6 months, then AU$108.95p/m)

Exetel is our recommendation for those who can access NBN 250 plans, offering the best overall package. The ISP states your typical evening speed will be 225Mbps, putting it at 90% of the full 250Mbps download speed, but you only pay AU$83.95p/m for the first 6 months, then AU$108.95p/m thereafter. Plus, you can use Exetel's five My Speed Boost days to increase your speed to 500Mbps download and 50Mbps upload, if you have an FTTP or HFC connection. 

Southern Phone currently offers the cheapest plan that delivers the full 250Mbps download speed that we can find. The telco's plan also costs less than Exetel's, costing AU$95p/m for the first 12 months of your service. It changes to AU$115p/m after this introductory period. 

Our pick would still be Exetel, however, due to the inclusion of the My Speed Boost days.

Total minimum cost: AU$83.95p/m | Total cost for first year: AU$1,157.40 | Yearly cost after discount: AU$1,307.40

Optus | NBN 250 | Unlimited downloads | No lock-in contract | AU$89p/m

Optus | NBN 250 | Unlimited downloads | No lock-in contract | AU$89p/m (for 6 months, then AU$119p/m)

Optus is currently running a very attractive promotion that sees AU$30 being knocked off the monthly cost of its NBN 250 plan (advertised with 240Mbps typical evening speeds) for 6 months. This discount makes Optus' plan one of the best for value in our opinion, offering fast speeds for a low monthly sum. 

Our only slight gripe with Optus is that it places a mandatory charge on the supplied modem if you leave before 36 months has passed. If you stay for 36 months, it's free, but if you leave you're charged AU$7p/m for each unused month. However, if you stay connected for just 12 months, Optus' plan with the current discount works out as the best bang for buck in Australia at this speed.

Total minimum cost: AU$341 (including modem) | Total cost of first 12 months: AU$1,248 (excl. modem) | Yearly cost after discount: AU$1,428

Best NBN 1000 plan

The fastest possible speeds, but only for a select few

Superloop | NBN 1000 | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$99p/m

Superloop | NBN 1000 | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$99p/m (for 6 months, then AU$119p/m)

Competition is heating up in the NBN 1000 speed tier, with a number of providers now offering superfast connections. However, a good proportion of these telcos have yet to publish typical evening speed data, so we can’t be sure what download speeds you can realistically expect. 

Until that data is published, our top pick for the best NBN 1000 plan comes from Superloop. It's currently the cheapest provider that claims to deliver some of the fastest speeds. 

Aussie Broadband, Origin and Optus all claim 600Mbps speeds too, but these cost at least AU$300 more over the course of the first 12 months. Superloop also has good reviews and has been noted as being a good provider for online gamers. 

Total minimum cost: AU$99 | Total cost for first 12 months: AU$1,308 | Yearly cost after discount: AU$1,428

Best NBN plans: major NBN providers

When you're looking for a new NBN plan, you may be tempted to head straight to one of the three major providers of NBN services: Tesla, Optus or TPG. In the majority of cases, you'll need to spend more each month to sign up with one of these three, but in return, you can generally be sure of a reliable service when it comes to speed. In fact, if you look at data published by the ACCC, all three get close to, or exceed, 100% of the advertised speeds. 

You may also find you can get extra perks thrown into your NBN plan, such as free subscriptions to streaming services, or the supplied modem having integrated 4G backup internet, in case your fixed-line service ever goes offline. We haven't factored these extra perks into our recommendations above because their appeal will vary depending on your household’s specific needs. We’ve instead focused on the speed and monthly price offered.

If you want to go with either Telstra, Optus or TPG for your NBN plan, these are the ones we'd recommend. 

Best Telstra NBN plan

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Telstra | NBN 100 | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$95p/m

Telstra | NBN 100 | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$95p/m (for 6 months, then AU$110p/m)

Telstra's pricing doesn't seem to follow a similar structure to other telcos. Whereas others tend to increase their plans by AU$10p/m as you move up each speed tier, Telstra's is less predictable. 

Which is why we've picked out the NBN 100 plan. It may cost AU$95p/m for six months, before increasing to AU$110, both of which are way above the monthly average for this tier. But, this is the same cost (then AU$15 more) than its NBN 50 plan, making it appear to be better value. 

In fairness, you do get a number of inclusions on a Telstra NBN plan, including a 12 month Kayo Basic subscription, two months of Binge, three months of Apple TV Plus and four months of Spotify Premium. 

Telstra also supplies a modem for free, just as long as you remain on your plan for 24 months. If you choose to leave, you can simply return the modem, or keep it and pay a AU$200 non-return fee.

Total minimum cost: AU$95 | Total cost for first year: AU$1,230 | Yearly cost after discount: AU$1,320

Best Optus NBN plan

Optus | NBN 50 | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$69p/m

Optus | NBN 50 | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$69p/m (for 6 months, then AU$79p/m) 

We've picked out the NBN 50 plan as the most broadly appealing option. Not only is it the cheapest Optus NBN plan you can get, but the company regularly matches, or in some cases exceeds, this download speed. You can therefore be practically guaranteed of achieving the full 50Mbps speed, which is plenty for most households. 

As mentioned earlier,  Optus does tie you into a 36 month plan if you want to get the modem for free. You are free to cancel whenever you want, but you'll be charged AU$7 for every unused month within the 36 month period.

Total minimum cost: AU$331 (including modem) | Total cost for first year: AU$948

Best TPG NBN plan

TPG | NBN 50 | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$74.99p/m

TPG | NBN 50 | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$74.99p/m

TPG doesn't offer an introductory promotion on its NBN 50 plan, but it is the cheapest of the three major NBN providers. TPG also only charges AU$109.95 for a modem, including delivery, making it one of the more affordable options. 

Total minimum cost: AU$74.99 | Total cost for first year: AU$899.88


What is the NBN?

The NBN (National Broadband Network) is Australia’s national infrastructure for phone and internet services. The government initiative was first proposed in 2007 and was deemed to be 90% complete in 2020. NBN services are now available to virtually all Australians in some form, whether it be a fixed-line service, facilitated by optical fibre cables or a fixed-wireless service, which uses towers emitting 4G signals.

Which NBN speed is best for me?

NBN offers six main speed tiers for consumer connections. There are official names for these (ranging from ‘Basic 1’ to ‘Ultrafast’) but most providers refer to them as a number, relating to the expected download speed. The speed of internet service you can achieve at your property is determined by the physical connection type you have. 

The six main NBN speed tiers available are:

NBN 12 (Basic 1): 12Mbps download | 1Mbps upload | All NBN connection types | 1 user | NBN 12 is best suited for a single-person household. Even then, the 12Mbps maximum download speed is only going to be good for browsing the internet, sending emails and watching video content in up to 1080p quality. If you want to stream 4K video content (or to multiple devices simultaneously) on services like Netflix, then NBN 12 likely won't be fast enough. 

NBN 25 (Basic II): 25Mbps download | 5Mbps upload | All NBN connection types | 1-2 users | With NBN 25, up to two people can comfortably browse the internet at the same time and stream a range of music and video content in up to 1080p quality. You may be able to watch 4K streaming video, but only on a single device at a time.

NBN 50 (Standard): 50Mbps download | 20Mbps upload | All NBN connection types | 2-4 users | The most popular NBN speed tier, NBN 50 is designed to allow up to four users to browse, stream and download content with ease. NBN 50 is also a good speed tier for people needing to use video chat a lot at home. NBN 50 is the most popular NBN plan in Australia.

NBN 100 (Fast): 100Mbps download | 20Mbps upload | All NBN connection types | 5+ users |  Well suited to 4K video streaming and allowing for multiple users to be online at the same time. 

NBN 250 (Superfast): 250Mbps download | 25Mbps upload | FTTP, HFC connections | 5+ users | Incredibly fast internet speeds that allows multiple users to stream 4K video content and download large files at the same time. 

NBN 1000 (Ultrafast): 1000Mbps download | 50Mbps upload | FTTP, HFC connection | 5+ users | Currently the fastest possible NBN speed tier, although very few telcos actually achieve the full 1000Mbps download speeds, especially during the evening. 

What does 'typical evening speed' mean?

You'll see the term 'typical evening speed' advertised against all NBN plans, and it refers to the average download speed you can expect to realistically achieve during the busy evening hours of 7pm - 11pm.

Different providers of NBN plans may advertise different typical evening speeds, so be sure to keep an eye out for this figure when searching for a new plan. On speed tiers ranging up to NBN 100he typical evening speed figure is less important than it used to be.

The speeds realistically achievable in Australia have improved in recent years, and you'll now find some internet service providers will advertise the maximum possible speed of the NBN tier you're on. In some cases, your evening speed could actually exceed the theoretical maximum limit of your tier.  

Which NBN provider is the cheapest?

The NBN speed tier you're considering will determine which NBN provider is the cheapest. A fast NBN 100 plan will naturally cost you a fair amount each month. But within these fast NBN plans, you can find some good deals that will save you money. 

The cheapest NBN plan available in Australia is Flip Connect's NBN 12 plan, which costs AU$34p/m for the first 6 months, which then increases to AU$44.90p/m.

Head to our best NBN deals page for a regularly updated list of popular, affordable internet plans.

Is there an alternative to NBN?

Yes, there is, in the form of 5G home internet. 5G home internet uses a modem to connect to nearby 5G mobile towers, which then delivers internet around your home via Wi-Fi. It can have multiple benefits, including being easy to install, achieving superfast speeds and being competitively priced. 

Other NBN alternatives include satellite internet for people who live in rural and remote parts of Australia and can't get connected to a fixed-line NBN service.

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.