iiNet NBN Review: The Best Improvement on NBN Speeds
What is iiNet ?
iiNet NBN has undergone one of the biggest improvements since the ACCC began tracking broadband speeds in Australia but its customer service has taken a dive over the years.
For years, iiNet was known as the Australian ISP with kooky ads, competitive month-to-month plans and outstanding customer service. Which is why TPG bought the telco for a cool $1.56 billion in 2015.
Founded in Perth in 1993, iiNet slowly expanded across Australia and New Zealand thanks to some clever acquisitions, like ihug in New Zealand and Westnet in Australia. Between 2004 and 2006, the Perth-bred ISP forked out for its own DSLAM infrastructure; introducing some of the fastest DSL speeds in Australia at the time (an unimaginable 1.5 Mbps).
From there, iiNet went from strength to strength thanks to its quality products, renowned customer service and memorable ad campaigns starring “that iiNet guy” (David Lee Smyth).
The TPG-owned incarnation of iiNet has moved in a different direction, now focusing more on value than customer service. These days, iiNet offers competitive 90 Mbps Fibre plans with decent upload speeds, some good value (but a little iffy) Fetch bundles and a serious speed improvement since the ACCC started tracking NBN providers in Australia.
The fastest iiNet NBN plans
What’s iiNet NBN like?
As TPG has started to move iiNet to a more value focused offering, it looks like its customer care has suffered at that expense. One year after the TPG takeover, the TIO (Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman) reported that iiNet complaints had increased by nearly 50%. There was an overall 22.1% increase in complaints across the telco industry, most around poor NBN connections, to the TIO over that period but iiNet’s fall from grace was notable.
I was an iiNet customer during the acquisition and distinctly recall the change in tone and treatment from what I once considered one of the best customer service experiences I’d ever had (and I was an Optus employee to boot).
Comparatively, iiNet’s Fetch bundles are decent value but the marketing implies the set-top box cost is included in the plan. In reality, the upfront equipment fees are hidden as “set-up fees” in the fine print.
Fetch’s hardware is plug-and-play and requires no set-up on iiNet’s end.
This set-up fee for each is also conveniently priced accordingly with the outright RRP. The Mini will cost you $59.99 to set up and the Mighty will cost you $399.99. An odd bit of tomfoolery on iiNet’s behalf.
All that’s on top of the $5 per month you pay to bundle Fetch and the $10 delivery fee, plus whatever channel packs you decide to tack on.
We asked iiNet’s customer service to explain what the set-up fee covered. The rep claimed that the $59.99/$399.99 charge was to cover iiNet’s part in “preconfiguring” the hardware.
Also, while you technically own the Fetch box once you’ve forked out for it, the box will be forever locked to iiNet, rendering it totally useless if you ever switch providers.
It’s not all doom and gloom for iiNet NBN customers. To its credit, it has improved its NBN speeds dramatically since the ACCC started tracking Aussie providers.
Between February and March 2019, iiNet’s average download speeds improved more than any other provider during its busiest hours. In May, average speeds in iiNet’s busy hours were up 4.1% and up 17.5% in its busiest hour. That’s miles ahead of the competition when it comes to improvement. The next best was Exetel, which only improved by 3.5% in busy hours and 5.1% in the busiest hour. Out of the 8 providers tracked, iiNet comes in at 5th place for download speeds in busy hours and sixth place for download speeds in the busiest hour.
iiNet also ranks second for upload speeds, delivering 86.4% of its advertised speeds on average.
But that’s about where the ACCC-approved praise ends. iiNet has the second-highest latency out of the NBN bunch, averaging 16.9 ms. Ironically, the provider with the highest latency tracked is the only one marketed at gamers, MyRepublic. High latency FTW?
There is one final silver lining for iiNet users. Netflix’s ISP speed ranking places iiNet as your next best bet for streaming Stranger Things after Telstra and Optus. On average, iiNet NBN streams Netflix at 4.35 Mbps, which is just shy of Optus NBN’s 4.37 Mbps.
Overall, old iiNet just ain’t what it used to be. Which is a shame because I’d really like to see the iiNet guy continue to crush it. If you value customer service over price or are just trying to recapture some of that old iiNet magic, we’d recommend a provider like Mate Broadband or Aussie Broadband for outstanding customer service and transparency.
iiNet NBN plans
The best iiNet NBN Fetch bundle
If you’re fixing for some Fetch, iiNet offers a competitive NBN Standard Plus (nbn50) bundle. You will need to add premium channel add-ons (at $6 a pop) when you build your plan but that’s the same story for every provider offering Fetch.
What is Fetch TV iiNet?
Fetch TV is Foxtel’s humble Pay TV competitor in Australia. Though that’s not to say the two are comparable. Where Foxtel is concerned with absolutely murdering your wallet for the privilege of watching a couple of HBO shows, Fetch offers a smaller selection of premium channels, such as Comedy Central, ESPN, National Geographic and BBC UKTV, at a fraction of the cost.
Fetch’s affordable hardware comes in two variants, the Fetch Mini and the Fetch Mighty. The Mini is a slim set-top box with pause and rewind features for live TV and support for 1080p HD streaming, where the Mighty is a more robust box with 1 TB of onboard storage, 4 TV tuners and support for 4K/UHD streaming.
Both boxes include 30 pre-selected movie rentals per month, access to digital movie and TV show purchases and support for Netflix, Stan, hayu, YouTube and more.
Fetch has four channel packs available for purchase: Kids, Knowledge, Vibe and Variety. Each will cost you an additional $6 per month on top of your monthly iiNet bill. If you want to save yourself $4 per month, the Ultimate pack gives you all four packs for $20 per month.
There are also a few special interest channels, such as Optus Sport, beIN Sports and… Horse and Country? And a few international channel packs, including the Taj Mahal, Chinese and Pinoy and packs. Special interest and world channel packs all come at a premium, ranging from $9.95 to $19.99 per month.
The majority of iiNet connections don’t qualify for Freezone anymore, with the exception of OptiComm FTTH connections in Victoria and South Brisbane (and a long list of Grandfathered plans). To top it off, the Freezone website doesn’t look like it has seen any action in years. Most of the section tabs don’t hold any content and none of the apparently “live” broadcasts, like Kitty Cam, redirect to anything.
It’s the internet equivalent of a burnt out Torana on the side of the road.
What is my internet speed on iiNet?
If your downloads are taking a little longer than usual or your stream is buffering beyond what’s acceptable, try running a speed test when connected to your home Wi-Fi network.
If the result is below what you’re paying for, there are a few common causes and solutions.
Why is my iiNet NBN so slow?
Firstly, check the time. Australia’s busiest hours for broadband usage are between 7:00 pm and 11:00 pm. Congestion between these hours can impact your download speed significantly.
The ACCC broadband performance data suggests iiNet users can expect around 84.5% of their maximum NBN speed in busy hours and around 78.6% of their maximum NBN speed in iiNet’s busiest hour for traffic.
If it’s well below that percentage or you’re browsing outside busy hours, we’d recommend running through some basic troubleshooting (like power cycling your modem) before getting in touch with iiNet’s tech support team.