NBN providers with 4G backup modems
Broadband internet is built to be more reliable than mobile internet. But even with a fixed-line NBN connection, there may be times when there’s a network outage.
To get back online, you can try to troubleshoot NBN issues, or you can opt for NBN with 4G backup.
What is 4G backup?
In the event of an NBN outage, a modem-router with 4G backup automatically shifts your connection from an NBN connection to a 4G mobile connection.
Unless you’re on an NBN 12 or 25 plan, the 4G backup speeds are much slower, but it’s effectively a peace-of-mind solution for keeping your home connected while the NBN is getting back online. While other forms of 4G mobile internet tend to have faster speeds – which is a big part of the reason why Australia’s average mobile speeds are above 65Mbps – NBN 4G backup connections tend to have much slower capped speeds.
Outside of speed, the big disclaimer for NBN plans with 4G backup is that you need to be in an area serviced by the respective provider’s mobile network to take advantage of it.
Currently, there are three NBN providers with 4G backup: Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone. Tangerine used to have their own offering, but as of April 2021, it appears to no longer be available.
Telstra NBN 4G backup
Sign up for any Telstra NBN plan to score a second-gen Telstra Wi-Fi Smart Modem (it’s actually a modem-router), which costs nothing and is yours to keep if you stick with Telstra for 24 months. Take advantage of the lack of a contract to churn early, though, and you’ll be up for the pro-rated cost of the Smart Modem, tallied at $9 per month remaining in a two-year term.
If your NBN connection goes down, the Telstra Wi-Fi Smart Modem takes over with a 4G backup connection, which is limited to 25Mbps download and 2Mbps upload.
If you’re connected via Telstra’s 500GB Data (NBN) plan, backup data counts towards your monthly quota, otherwise, you effectively have access to unlimited data because Telstra’s other NBN plans are all unlimited.
Check out Telstra’s NBN plans below:
Stuck in backup
If your Telstra Wi-Fi Smart modem is stuck in backup mode, you may receive this message. “Your broadband service is working in backup mode.” If this stretches beyond the repair of an NBN outage, contact Telstra’s NBN faults team on 1800 834 273.
Optus NBN 4G backup
Like Telstra, all Optus NBN plans come with a 4G backup device which, for this provider, is the Optus Ultra WiFi Modem (it’s also a modem-router). The bonus here is if you’re in one of the rare areas not yet connected to the NBN, the 4G backup part also works as a tide-over until your area is connected.
Because all Optus NBN plans have unlimited data, backup data is also unlimited, albeit restricted to 25Mbps download and 2Mbps upload speeds.
The Optus Ultra WiFi Modem is yours to keep, with a catch: despite the lack of contracts for Optus NBN plans, you have to stick around for 36 months to not pay extra for the device. Leave before those three years and you’re up for a $252 cost, minus $7 per month that you’ve already been connected.
Check out the Optus NBN plans below:
Vodafone NBN 4G backup
Like Optus, all Vodafone NBN plans include unlimited data, which likewise translates to unlimited 4G backup if you opt for the Vodafone WiFi Hub (again, it’s a modem-router). In a long-running promotion, you don’t have to pay extra for the WiFi Hub if you stay with Vodafone for three years; otherwise, despite Vodafone’s no-contract NBN plans, it’s $245 less $5-per-month remaining on a three-year term.
The 4G backup speeds are the slowest of the three – 12Mbps download and 1Mbps upload – and can be used for up to 30 consecutive days or when the broadband fault is rectified sooner. You have to call Vodafone to activate the 4G backup service.
Check out Vodafone’s NBN plans below:
Alternative providers with the fewest outages
Having 4G backup is great, but having a provider with so few outages that you don’t even need it is even better. According to the most recent broadband performance report by the ACCC, there are four providers reporting 0.17 or fewer daily outages per service that last longer than 30 seconds: Exetel, Dodo, iPrimus and Superloop. Compared to Optus and TPG’s 0.26 daily outages, that’s a pretty significant difference.
Here are the most popular NBN 50 plans from each of those four providers.