The Best NBN Alternatives
What you need to know
If you can’t be stuffed with FTTB or FTTP you might be worried about what the NBN-dominated future holds for you. Even if you manage to wrap your head around the huge glossary of acronyms, the NBN might not be arriving in your area any time soon. If you are part of the majority of Australians who are now able to connect to the NBN, that doesn’t necessarily mean you want to or have to. Here’s a list of the best NBN alternatives available to Australians:
- Home Wireless Broadband
- Mobile 4G
- Mobile 5G (coming soon)
- Alternative fibre technologies
The NBN isn’t the be-all and end-all for Australian broadband and in many cases, it might not even be the best option.
Let’s take a look at some of the NBN alternatives available to Australians.
Do I have the NBN?
Use the map below to discover which broadband technologies offer coverage in your area.
The Best NBN Alternative: Home Wireless Broadband
If NBN is well and truly off the cards for you, home wireless broadband is the best alternative available in Australia. Home wireless broadband uses a 4G network to deliver high-speed internet through a wireless modem.
Home wireless uses the same mobile network as mobile broadband and phone plans. The difference is, home wireless plans are designed to be used as a home broadband replacement with bigger download quotas and sturdier Wi-Fi modems to deliver a more robust internet connection. In Australia, 4G speeds typically hit around 33 Mbps, but can also achieve well over 100Mbps in certain areas, too (which blows ADSL2+ out of the water).
Home wireless plans are typically priced between $39.95 per month for 250 GB to $85 per month for 500 GB, making it a decent NBN replacement if you don’t need unlimited downloads.
Like most mobile plans, home wireless plans have excess data charges if you go over your monthly quota, though they tend to be more generously priced at around $10 for 10 GB (opposed to $10 for 1 GB).
Our advice? Check how much data you typically use with your current provider before switching to home wireless broadband.
Best Home Wireless Broadband plan
Exetel’s Home Wireless Broadband plan offers 250 GB for $39.99 per month with no lock-in contract.
Exetel’s deal is without a doubt the best value for money but if you use way more than 250 GB per month, you may want to consider the 500 GB Optus Home Wireless plan.
ADSL2+ (but not for long)
If your address isn’t connected to the NBN yet, ISPs that service your area will still hook you up with an ADSL2+ connection. Most providers, such as Telstra and Optus, will then upgrade you to the NBN when it becomes available.
There isn’t usually a fee for switching from ADSL to NBN but there could be an NBN install and modem fee. ADSL and NBN plans are usually priced differently too, particularly if you opt for a speed boost, so expect to see a change on your monthly bill after switching.
With that said, ADSL2+ is the least desirable NBN alternative on the market. Firstly, it’s old technology. ADSL2+ speeds have a maximum potential download speed of 24 Mbps but the latest ACCC broadband report tracked average ADSL2+ speeds in Australia at about 7.2 Mbps in busy hours.
ADSL2+ is also on its way out. Once the NBN rolls out in your area you have roughly 18 months before they pull the plug on copper in your area.
Best ADSL2+ plan
If you still have access to ADSL2+, TPG is offering unlimited downloads on an 18-month contract for $59.99 per month.
4G Mobile Broadband
If you want a single solution for your home broadband connection and your excessive data usage on the go, mobile broadband is the way to go.
Mobile broadband plans use the same 3G/4G connection as your mobile phone plan and just like mobile phone plans, mobile broadband plans tend to have pricier data options than home wireless.
Mobile broadband plans are usually priced between $20 or $30 per month for 25 GB and upwards of $100 for bigger data quotas (150 GB to 500 GB).
When it comes to value for money, home wireless is lightyears ahead of the mobile broadband competition. However, if mobility is a must and you’re looking for a short-term agreement, prepaid and postpaid mobile broadband plans offer a great temporary solution.
Most postpaid mobile broadband plans include a portable 4G modem but if you’re preferencing prepaid, there are plenty of outright modem options.
Best 4G Mobile Broadband Plan
For access to Australia’s biggest 4G network on a budget, you can’t go past Telstra’s $29 Mobile Broadband Plan. Typically, $29 per month only gets you 10 GB with Telstra Mobile Broadband but this deal tacks on an additional 15 GB per month, offering 25 GB in total.
For heavy usage, your best option is the $60 Mobile Broadband plan from Optus. For $60 per month, this plan will nab you 100 GB of data to use on Australia’s second largest mobile network.
Will 5G replace NBN?
Currently, Optus is experimenting with mind-blowing 5G home wireless plans that offer unlimited data on a slick 50 Mbps connection for just $70 per month. That’s stunning value for a home wireless plan but only a handful of Australian suburbs are currently serviced by Optus 5G.
Head over to the Optus website to check if you’re suburb is one of the lucky few.
There’s also no telling if Optus will continue to sell 5G at a steal once the rollout is complete.
What does 5G mean for the future of NBN? Well, it’s hard to say.
Both broadband technologies can be impacted by a wide variety of environmental and infrastructure issues. NBN speeds can take a hit if there’s congestion on the network or if your retail service provider hasn’t purchased enough CVC in your area. 5G home wireless speeds will be subject to the same old network coverage issues of any other mobile technology (i.e. distance from the tower).
Are there other fibre alternatives?
Outside of your mobile alternatives, certain regions, apartment buildings and housing estates have access to non-NBN fibre alternatives like iiNet and Exetel’s OpticComm, which services select housing estates, or Lightning Broadband, which uses a 5G/Fibre hybrid technology to deliver ultra-fast broadband speeds to homes and businesses in and around Melbourne.
These fibre providers don’t quite qualify as an NBN alternative as they are often overpriced or your only option for broadband if you’re living in an apartment complex or housing estate.
When do I have to switch to the NBN and is it compulsory?
Simple answer: No, it’s not compulsory. Though the NBN rollout is intended to replace the ADSL network in your area (which will be unavailable after a specified cut-off date once NBN is live), you are not required to sign up to an NBN plan. With that said, it could be your best option. We’ve discussed a lot of NBN alternatives in this guide, but realistically, NBN could actually be your best option for broadband if you’re looking for a good value unlimited plan.