How to get gigabit internet in Australia

NBN FTTP and some NBN HFC users can now access gigabit speeds, but the future is bright for other NBN technologies.

With multiple technologies and NBN 100 long being considered to be the top NBN speed – it is, after all, still called NBN Fast today – the prospect of gigabit internet in Australia may seem a long way off for most, but it’s closer today than it’s ever been.

In late 2019, NBN Co. shifted things up for its wholesale offerings, launching the now standard 100/20Mbps speed tier (to replace the once ubiquitous 100/40Mbps), alongside 250/25Mbps and the ultimate 1000/50Mbps offering. What started off with a handful of plans from Aussie Broadband and Superloop is now offered by a handful of providers, which makes for great competitive pricing for NBN 250 and NBN 1000.

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What is gigabit internet?

Gigabit internet is internet that can reach download speeds of up to 1000Mbps, which is 10 times faster than the once-fastest NBN 100 plans that are still available to most metropolitan Australians. In NBN Co. terms, NBN Superfast is also known as NBN 250 (250/25Mbps) while NBN Ultrafast is also called NBN 1000 (1000/50Mbps).

NBN 250 plans (NBN Superfast)

Okay, okay, so NBN 250 isn’t really gigabit internet, but it’s the current stepping stone between the 100Mbps max download speeds of NBN 100 and the gigabit potential of NBN 1000 plans. The best value NBN 250 plan is the Superloop Unlimited NBN. It has a six-month discount (get in by 31 January 2021), which means $109 for the first six months, then $129 if you stick around. That’s the best value NBN 250 plan, and it helps that Superloop advertises zippy 215Mbps typical evening download speeds.

For comparison, you can have a look at how this Superloop NBN 250 plan stacks up with other popular NBN Superfast picks (Aussie Broadband is the fastest with 248Mbps typical evening download speeds).

NBN 1000 plans (NBN Ultrafast)

Back when they first launched, there were only two NBN 1000 plans on offer from providers: one from Superloop and one from Aussie Broadband. Today, there are eight plans from seven providers, which has helped to drive competitive pricing, even if the pricing expectations still revolve around the $149 monthly cost for Aussie Broadband’s Home Ultrafast Unlimited – Power House nbn™ plan.

While Superloop has the cheapest plan care of a six-month discount at $129 a month, it has a 3TB data cap, which includes downloads and uploads. While 3TB is a lot of data, it still feels restrictive when dealing with gigabit internet speeds, particularly because all other NBN 1000 plans come with unlimited data.

Speaking of, Kogan’s nbn1000 Diamond Unlimited plan is our pick of the best because it has unlimited data, 250Mbps typical evening speeds (the safe standard for this speed tier) and costs $134.90 per month for the first six months before reverting to $148.90 per month.

You can see a ranking of all popular NBN 1000 plans below.

How do I get gigabit internet?

If you’re already an Aussie Broadband customer on FTTP or HFC, you can switch to the gigabit plan using the Aussie Broadband app. As mentioned above, only a small selection of HFC customers will be eligible for Aussie’s gigabit plan, but you should be able to check your eligibility in the app.

Superloop customers can register for its 3TB NBN 1000 plan on its website after completing an address check.

If you’re not sure what technology you have at your address. You can head to the Aussie Broadband website and use the address check to see what options are available to you.

Otherwise, punch your address into the address bar below.

You will be redirected to a page of results with the message “Great News! Your area has NBN” at the top of the page. Hover your mouse over the ‘i’ information button… Get in touch with your preferred provider to check your eligibility. For other NBN technologies, all hope isn’t lost of NBN 250 and NBN 1000 speeds.

How to upgrade to FTTP

Only a percentage of HFC homes can tap into NBN 250 or NBN 1000 speeds, but you can upgrade to FTTP. Technically, anyone can apply for one, and NBN Co’s Technology Choice Program now has been recently upgraded to include the option for free quotes (instead of the $330 fee of more recent times).

You can read the full steps on how to get your free online FTTP upgrade quote here, but while the quote is free, the cost of the upgrade isn’t. Expect to pay thousands of dollars, which depends on the complexity of the upgrade and also factors in how far away your property is from the nearest fibre point. A full fibre connection is important because this is how gigabit (and the, fingers crossed, multi-gigabit realities of the future) internet can reliably be provided to homes.

There are other upgrade paths for copper-fibre hybrid connections, such as G.fast, which has had promising results, so long as the copper cabling doesn’t extend for more than 100 metres. For distances under 100 metres, gigabit internet (and beyond) is achievable.

How fast is gigabit internet really?

As with every NBN plan, the 1000/50Mbps speed tier is more of a guide. It’s the theoretical maximum that the plan is able to deliver. But there are many factors that impact your NBN speeds.

Aussie Broadband is stepping into uncharted territory with its gigabit offering, but the ISP is confident that it can deliver 80 to 90 percent of those speeds, depending on the technology type installed.

That said, Aussie Broadband’s Critical Information Summary for its gigabit internet plan suggests typical evening download speeds of 600Mbps. Meanwhile, Superloop, Kogan, Telstra and Optus are all playing it safe by advertising 250Mbps typical evening download speeds, while Internode and iiNet both list 200Mbps typical evening download speeds.

The ACCC currently tracks typical evening speeds for a handful of NBN providers, and the results are an invaluable resource if you’re hoping to get a better idea of what speeds to expect on the NBN, but at the time of updating, neither NBN 250 nor NBN 1000 plans have been added to the program.

What modem do I need for gigabit internet?

When it comes to gigabit internet, the modem is less important than the router, but because ‘modem’ and ‘router’ are often erroneously used interchangeably (we’ve got an article on that), it’s easier to talk in terms of both. For FTTP and other NBN technologies, the modem is provided by NBN. Sometimes providers offer a modem-router, which does the job of both.

Either way, when it comes to gigabit internet, there’s a lot more bandwidth demand put on your networking equipment to deliver full speeds. While you may be able to use your current networking gear to get online with NBN 1000, you likely won’t be able to take advantage of the full download speed of your connection without the right equipment.

Aussie Broadband, for instance, recommends the Google Nest WiFi because of its ability to keep up with the faster download speeds. This gives an idea of the kind of specifications you should be looking for in your router or modem-router to ensure it’s not causing a speed bottleneck for gigabit internet.

  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 1GB RAM
  • Quad-core 64-bit ARM CPU @ 1.4GHz

Gigabit Ethernet is listed because current technology WiFi speeds are great for handling NBN 100 and even NBN 250 download speeds, but may struggle to hit the full potential of NBN 1000. Short of that, WiFi 6 (802.11 ax) is your best bet, but to see the wireless speed gains, you’ll want a WiFi 6 router and WiFi device/s, ideally, connected to the 5GHz channel (instead of 2.4GHz).

Next best speed for non-FTTP or HFC customers

If you’re not connected with a superior technology like FTTP or HFC, the fastest speed available to you is NBN 100 (100Mbps). NBN 100 comes in two configurations, 100/20 with 20Mbps upload speeds, or 100/40 with 40Mbps upload speeds.

The providers below all offer NBN 100 speeds. We’ve sorted the table by highest speeds, so you know what to expect with each provider.