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Is NBN faster than the alternatives? NBN vs ADSL and 4G

With the majority of the country now connected to the NBN, has the promise of super-fast Australian broadband been fulfilled?

Brodie Fogg
Jun 04, 2019
bullet2 min read

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Is NBN really the best choice for super-fast internet in Australia? Let's weigh up the options.

For years we’ve been told that the NBN would deliver blistering speeds, up to 100 Mbps; enough to make your eyes bleed. After one serious failure to launch, a lot of government backpedaling and more broken promises than we care to count, the NBN is now available to the majority of Australians in one form or another. So how does the NBN ideal compare with the real deal and is NBN faster than the alternatives?

How much faster is the NBN compared to ADSL2+?

ADSL2+ speeds range between 1 Mbps and 24 Mbps but the ACCC’s broadband performance data shows that the average ADSL2+ speed in Australia is 7.2 Mbps. The average NBN speed (across Standard, Standard Plus and Premium) is 49.8 Mbps, making the average NBN speed over 590% faster than ADSL2+.

Realistically, it all depends on which NBN speed tier you choose when signing up to a new plan. The Standard 25 plan averages a real-world speed of 22.7 Mbps, the Standard Plus 50 averages 41.2 Mbps and the Premium 100 averages 85.6 Mbps. If you choose a Standard speed plan or higher, your broadband speeds should be at least 200% faster.

How much faster is NBN compared to 4G?

While 4G mobile broadband speeds are subject to the same fickle signal and reception issues as any old mobile phone plan, you can potentially reach some outstanding speeds on the 4G/LTE network.

Typically, Australian 4G download speeds sit somewhere between 20 Mbps and 100 Mbps. That’s a wide range and it doesn’t really tell you much about what kind of speeds you can expect on 4G mobile broadband at your home but as a whole, it’s comparable to the NBN’s selection of speeds.

The great thing about 4G mobile broadband or Home Wireless Broadband is that can run a speed test from your smartphone for an idea of how fast the 4G connection is in your house (assuming you intend on using the same provider for your home wireless). Just like mobile coverage, 4G mobile broadband coverage can differ massively between providers. Take a look at the mobile broadband and NBN map below to see which provider offers the best coverage in your area.

How fast is the NBN exactly?

Above, we’ve outlined the average NBN speeds reported by the ACCC but these averages aren’t representative of every connection or provider.

There are three ways nbnco, the service providers and the ACCC represent speed.

  • Typical minimum speed: the slowest speed your connection may reach during peak hours
  • Maximum potential speed: the full speed of the NBN plan you pay for.
  • Real-world average speeds: a snapshot of average speeds delivered by each provider, technology and speed tier in busy hours.

NBN speeds will vary from property to property and there’s a laundry list of factors that can impact the performance of your internet connection. For example, the distance of your house from the NBN node in your neighbourhood will play a factor. The farther away you are, the more the speed of the connection degrades.

The government has worked hard to make sure the vast majority of homes get a decent speed. Typically, you should expect to see speeds of at least 15 Mbps on NBN Standard, at least 40 Mbps on Standard Plus and at least 85 Mbps on Premium.

How fast is my NBN?

If you’re already connected to the NBN and you’re wondering if your ISP is delivering what was promised, simply connect to your Wi-Fi modem and head over to our NBN speed test page. When you run a speed test using our tool, you will be able to view your current download speed, upload speed, ping and latency. We also have a handy guide to the NBN’s available speed option and what speeds you might expect at each tier.

If the results are lower than expected, take a look at the fastest NBN plans on the market.

Brodie Fogg
Written by
Brodie Fogg
Brodie Fogg is the Australian editorial lead at He has covered consumer tech, telecommunications, video games, streaming and entertainment for over five years at websites like WhistleOut and Finder and can be found sharing streaming recommendations at 7NEWS every month.

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