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How we review NBN plans

We take dozens of factors into account when reviewing NBN plans from different providers.

Nathan Lawrence
Jan 25, 2024
Icon Time To Read3 min read

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We track 20+ NBN providers in our comparison engine across top-line metrics including price, download and upload speeds, and contract terms. But that’s not where our analysis ends. Digging deeper into plan details helps us separate close-competing NBN plans and truly identify the best offers by way of in-depth analysis.

In terms of overarching categories, here’s what we look at:

  • Price: relative to speed tier, whether there’s a contract and/or regular promotional discount.
  • Speeds: download, upload and latency (where available) across all available speed tiers.
  • Features: plan inclusions, including discounts, bundles, exclusive offers and more.
  • Support: the number of pathways a provider offers for customer assistance.
  • Customer satisfaction: the reported happiness of real-world provider customers from user-review sources.

Before we get into a proper breakdown of each category, here’s a look at the most popular NBN plans today.

NBN plan prices

At first glance, NBN plans may be difficult to separate because of identical or close-competing prices. It’s common for NBN providers to offer six months of promotional pricing before a cheaper plan reverts to its typical monthly pricing, plus most NBN plans these days come with unlimited data.

While we consider initial promotional pricing in our analysis, we also understand that people tend to stick with their internet services, so we use base pricing for our reviews and market comparisons to paint a more accurate ongoing picture for prospective customers. Additionally, while an NBN plan may be close in price to another, we also use dollar-to-download-speed comparisons to determine whether a cheaper plan has better overall value.

We also prefer NBN plans that don’t have a contract as that’s the norm these days. Check out some of the cheapest NBN plan prices below.

NBN plan speeds

Download speed is more important than upload speed for most internet tasks, which is why we prioritise the former over the latter. The ACCC requires NBN providers to accurately self-report typical download speeds, which is what we use as a guide to determine the fastest NBN plans or the best dollar-to-speed plans. Note that it’s common for plans up to NBN 50 to offer parity between maximum download speeds and typical evening speeds.

Beyond NBN 50 is where providers typically offer a bigger spread of typical evening download speeds. Upload speeds, on the other hand, aren’t typically advertised as equal to the maximum potential speeds per NBN tier. These days, providers are self-reporting upload speeds, so we also factor that into our reviews and market analysis (where applicable).

We like an NBN provider that offers custom NBN speed tiers, but the main final speed consideration is latency. Unfortunately, most NBN providers don’t report expected latency for their internet plans, so we use ACCC data for analysis (on participating providers). Here’s a look at the fastest NBN plans today (note: only homes with Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) and Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) can sign up for these plans).

NBN plan features

The cheapest NBN plans may not have the most perks, which is why it’s worth considering pricier alternatives if features are important to you. We track more than a dozen potential NBN plan inclusions, including price considerations: whether there are setup fees and/or whether a provider offers a bundle discount.

A lot of providers let customers use a bring-your-own (BYO) NBN-compatible modem while others like Telstra, Optus and Vodafone bundle a preconfigured modem. Other NBN providers may offer preconfigured modems for an upfront fee. We like a provider that includes a preconfigured modem or lets customers buy one, but we also appreciate that providers with cheaper NBN plans may not offer modems.

Pay TV and home phone bundles aren’t as common as they used to be but there are still NBN providers who include those. For providers that offer a home phone, there may be included or discounted international calls, which is a good perk. We also factor in exclusive content offers, ACCC tracking and whether NBN providers also support non-metro technologies like Fixed Wireless NBN and NBN Sky Muster satellite.

The NBN plans below all have some sort of deal today.

NBN plan support pathways

While our team has practical experience as day-to-day customers of various NBN providers, we appreciate that support experiences can vary greatly between individuals. That’s why we prefer to look at the number of support pathways an NBN provider offers as a sign of how invested they are in smooth sailing for their customer experience.

We appreciate the basics like phone support, website FAQs and a customer forum or blog. But we really like it when an NBN provider has invested in other support touchpoints, including social media, online chat and retail stores for in-person support.

Below is a list of popular plans from NBN providers with the most support pathways.

NBN plan customer satisfaction

We could use an NBN plan for a year and have zero issues or we could have a mountain of problems during initial setup. While we may sometimes include our own anecdotal provider experiences, we also scour the web for customer reviews to get a better picture of a variety of customer experiences with a particular NBN provider.

Human nature dictates that most people use online reviews to vent frustration with a product or service, which is why this category isn’t ranked as high as the more objective ones above. That said, we check Google, Facebook, Product Review and Trustpilot for relevant user scores to get an idea of what real-world customers are saying.

Below is a selection of popular plans from some of the NBN providers with the highest reported customer satisfaction.

Nathan Lawrence
Written by
Nathan Lawrence
Nathan Lawrence has been banging out passionate tech and gaming words for more than 11 years. These days, you can find his work on outlets like IGN, STACK, Fandom, Red Bull and AusGamers. Nathan adores PC gaming and the proof of his first-person-shooter prowess is at the top of a Battlefield V scoreboard.

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