Best NBN plans when working from home

Hooking up to fast NBN is essential when working from home. Just don't forget the upload speeds.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been world-changing, to say the least. But even if your family has avoided contracting the virus, you’ve probably experienced a dramatic change in the way your life operates. For many, this has meant setting up an office in the spare room (or kitchen table) and working from home.

One of the key reasons this is possible for so many people is the prevalence of fast internet across the country. Say what you like about the NBN, but our working lives would look very different today if we were all trying to dial-in to video conferences on old copper ADSL2+ connections.

Choosing the right NBN plan is essential for making sure each day working from home runs smoothly. Here are our picks for the best NBN plans for your home office.

Upload speed: essential but overlooked

The common element in the plans above is a focus on upload speeds, rather than download speeds. The type of NBN plan you need to work from home hinges on the types of files you need to send, more than the types of files you need to download.

You also may consider how often you backup your work to a cloud storage service and how long it takes to do this.

If you work alone at home, an NBN plan with a 50Mbps speed limit will be enough for most people, but the associated 20Mbps upload speed may not.

There are four speed tiers we’d recommend. Click on each to see the current range of plans at this tier.

NBN Speeds available at most addresses
SpeedDownload speedUpload speedFind a plan
NBN Standard50Mbps20MbpsCompare Plans
NBN Fast 100/20100Mbps20MbpsCompare Plans
NBN Fast 100/40100Mbps40MbpsCompare Plans

You’ll notice that NBN Fast plans come in two flavours: cheaper plans with 20Mbps upload speeds, and slightly pricier options with 40Mbps uploads. Make sure you know which is offered in your plan of choice before signing up.

If you’re lucky enough to live in a house with a Fibre to the Premises or HFC NBN connection, then you might be eligible to get a faster NBN plan.

NBN Speeds available at select addresses
SpeedDownload speedUpload speedFind a plan
NBN Superfast250Mbps25MbpsCompare Plans
NBN Ultrafast1000Mbps50MbpsCompare Plans

Superfast and Ultrafast NBN connections are currently only available at addresses with Fibre to the Premises connections, and some homes with HFC cable hook-ups. You will need to run an address check on a provider’s website to see if they can offer you one of these services.

Also, pay attention to the fact that Superfast plans actually have slower upload speeds compared with some Fast plans, and uploads on Ultrafast plans are only 10Mbps faster, despite being much more expensive.

What speed do I need for Zoom meetings?

Zoom meetings are pretty data-intensive, but you don’t need a really fast connection for a smooth video call. Zoom needs about 3Mbps for an HD video call, but the burden of this is split across upload and download.

If your standard workday is split between Zoom calls and web applications, then an NBN plan with 20Mbps should cover you. Even if your partner or roommate has a similar workday, you should comfortably share a connection like this.

What speed do I need for large file transfers and backups?

If you work in an job where sharing large files is the norm, like a video editor or architect, for example, then a faster upload speed is a must.

Under perfect conditions, a 20Mbps upload speed equates to about 2.5megabytes per second. At this rate, a 1GB file upload would take 6.5 minutes. Stepping up to a faster plan will halve this upload time, which has obvious advantages if you are sharing files regularly throughout the workday.

Now that you know, here are your next steps.

Still looking? Check out the top ranked providers.

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