The best NBN alternatives
What are your other options if you can’t get NBN at your address?
If you can’t be stuffed with FTTB or FTTP you might be worried about what the NBN-dominated market 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.
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.
If NBN is well and truly off the cards for you, home wireless broadband is the best alternative available in Australia. Home wireless broadband (or 4G home internet) 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 $49.95 per month for 200GB to $85 per month for 500GB, 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.
More Home Wireless options
While it’s not technically a home wireless broadband plan (Telstra still needs to catch up), Telstra does offer the perfectly capable HTC 5G Hub with 4G fallback. It’s an incredible little device designed for the home or on the go and can support up to 20 connections.
Telstra’s Large MBB plan is a good alternative for those who need a little extra coverage and if that’s your primary concern, there are a few other Telstra MVNOs doing good deals on data. The only issue is, Telstra MVNOs don’t typically offer data-only plans.
Still, there’s a decent selection of Telstra-powered mobile plans that you can tether from in a pickle. Here are some of the most popular.
Best 5G Home Alternative
While it’s only available in select areas, Optus is slowly rolling out 5G across Australia. There are already a number of towers that have switched on 5G and Optus is selling 5G modems to eligible customers.
Optus is currently selling its Home 5G at $70 per month, for unlimited data with included Nokia 5G modem. Check it out over on the Optus website.
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).
If you’re opting for mobile broadband over home wireless, our guess is that you don’t need too much data and want to save a bit of money on your monthly bill. Luckily, there are still providers offering decent deals on data-only SIM plans designed to be used on the go.
At the time of writing, Moose Mobile is offering one of the most affordable data deals on the market. For $36 per month, Moose will give you 50GB of monthly data on the Optus 4G network. The only catch is, you’ve got to sign up for a 12-month contract.
To get you connected, Moose Mobile offers a $39 Optus USB dongle (for 1 connection) or a $79 Optus Pocket WiFi device (up to 10 connections). If you’re looking for an even better mobile solution, head over to our guide for the best pocket WiFi and WiFi dongles available.
If that’s not your pace, here’s a small handful of month-to-month 4G mobile broadband plans.
ADSL2+ won’t be around 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 24Mbps but the latest ACCC broadband report tracked average ADSL2+ speeds in Australia at about 7.7Mbps 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.
For those still eligible, here’s a small selection of ADSL2+ plans with a decent amount of data.
Most popular NBN plans
Maybe it’s not the NBN itself, maybe you just haven’t found the right plan for you. If speed’s a worry, there’s currently some great deals on NBN Premium (NBN 100) plans. Take a look at the table below at the most popular NBN Premium plans this week.
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.
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.