What NBN speed tier do you need?

Your guide to all things NBN speed tiers.

Georgia Dixon
Digital Content Editor
Read More
Published on November 22, 2021
6 min read

The rollout of the NBN promised a faster, more reliable Australian internet infrastructure. But some who have made the switch have been decidedly disappointed with the results. As with any broadband technology, there’s a laundry list of reasons why you might be experiencing broadband speeds slower than what you signed up for. And by virtue of the multiple speed choices offered, many Australians have been left scratching their heads over which NBN speed tier they need and what their internet speed should be once they've got it.

Well, you're in the right place. Here's your complete guide to each NBN speed tier and which one best suits you.

NBN 50 (Standard): Best NBN speed tier for most

  • Up to 50 Mbps download
  • Up to 20 Mbps upload

It's the most popular NBN speed tier in Australia, and for good reason. NBN 50 (or Standard), is a one-size-fits-most solution that's perfect for small households that need a little extra 'oomph' to satisfy their higher-usage needs.

50 Mbps should be enough to watch one 4K stream and a couple of HD streams at the same time, possibly with a little leftover to post your hot takes on Twitter. Plus, with 20 Mbps to work with when it comes to uploads, your video calls will be crisp and clear.

NBN 50 also happens to have some of the best value plans, with regular promotions bringing them below the $60/month mark.

See the most popular NBN 50 deals below.

NBN 100 (Fast): Best NBN speed tier for large households

  • Up to 100 Mbps download
  • Up to 20 or 40 Mbps upload, depending on your plan

If you've got a big family or live in a sharehouse, an NBN Fast plan is for you. Rocking download speeds of up to 100 Mbps, it's the fastest NBN speed tier available to most Australians, as Superfast and Ultrafast plans are only available to a small number of households (depending on technology).

NBN 100 should be enough for each member of the household to get their work done, watch their favourite TV show and play the occasional online game. Really, it should only struggle if there are half a dozen or so people using it at the same time.

It's also a popular choice among keen online gamers, streamers and content creators, as the potential for up to 40 Mbps upload speed makes for ultra-smooth live streaming and video uploads.

If you think NBN Fast is right for you, here are the most popular NBN 100 plans.

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Best NBN plans in Australia

Only want the cream of the broadband crop? Take a look at our picks for the best NBN plans in Australia across categories like best on a budget, best for gaming and more.

NBN 250 (Superfast): Best NBN speed tier for ultra-heavy users

  • Up to 250 Mbps download
  • Up to 25 Mbps upload

Only a select few households are capable of speeds up to 250 Mbps, so if you're one of them, congrats! NBN Superfast plans are only available for FTTP connections and some (around 70%) HFC connections. That's a relatively small portion of the population, but if you're a heavy internet user and you're eligible for it, NBN 250 will cater for all your gluttonous ways (and then some).

NBN 250 is enough to do pretty much anything online, and do it blazingly fast. Interestingly, you can actually get better upload speeds with an NBN 100/40 plan, which is something to keep in mind if you're constantly working with large cloud-based files or software.

To see if you're eligible for one of the most popular NBN 250 plans below, click the 'Go' link next to it and punch in your address.

NBN 1000 (Ultrafast): Fastest NBN speed tier

  • Up to 1000 Mbps download
  • Up to 50 Mbps upload

Again, NBN 1000 (Ultrafast) plans are only available to FTTP and selected HFC connections, but if you're one of the lucky ones, you can get the fastest fixed-line internet currently available in Australia.

There's pretty much nothing you can't do with download and upload speeds this fast. Honestly, it would be a waste of money for most users, but if you're a hardcore live streamer, gamer, busy creative or simply want to flex on your mates, NBN 1000 will do you just fine.

You'll find the most popular NBN 1000 plans below. Just click 'Go' next to the plan you like, enter your address and see if it'll work with your setup.

NBN 25 (Basic II): Best NBN speed tier for single-person households

  • Up to 25 Mbps download
  • Up to 5 Mbps upload

NBN Basic II offers download speeds of up to 25 Mbps, which is perfect for those who live alone (and may also suffice for lighter usage two-person households). Unless you find yourself frequently doing something that requires a lot of bandwidth (i.e. if you're a streamer or video editor), 25 Mbps is enough to stream any TV show or movie in HD with enough left over to do some online shopping or uni work at the same time.

On the downside, because most streaming services that offer 4K content require a minimum of 25 Mbps to do so, you'll likely experience buffering - especially if you plan on using the internet for any other reason simultaneously.

Upload-wise, 5 Mbps isn't anything to write home about, but it'll be enough to conduct reasonably clear video calls and upload the odd medium-sized file. If your job requires you to upload lots of large files on a regular basis, NBN 25 probably won't be fast enough for you.

Below are the most popular NBN 25 plans right now.

NBN 12 (Basic I): Best NBN speed tier for infrequent users

  • Up to 12 Mbps download
  • Up to 1 Mbps upload

As the slowest available NBN speed tier, customers on NBN 12 (a.k.a. Basic I) plans can expect a maximum download speed of 12 Mbps. That's enough for one device to watch Netflix in high definition, but if you like browsing the web while bingeing your favourite TV shows, NBN 12 will struggle to keep up. Plus, given upload speeds are capped at a measly 1 Mbps, you may experience issues with video calls.

We only recommend NBN 12 plans for those who only require the internet for sending and receiving emails, online shopping and streaming the occasional movie. It's a popular tier among seniors and those on a strict budget, but since it often comes with a small monthly data allowance instead of unlimited data, it certainly won't suit most users.

Regardless, if you think NBN 12 will work for you, here are the most popular plans in that speed tier.

What is a good NBN speed?

That depends on the speed tier you’ve selected. It’s rare you will hit the maximum potential speed for any NBN speed tier but if you’re paying for Fast NBN 100 and regularly hit 100 Mbps, we’d consider that a great NBN speed.

It’s more likely you will hit closer to the average of 85.6 Mbps during busy hours, which is still great but not quite as fast as your connection has the potential for.

Each NBN speed tier has a maximum potential speed that looks pretty on paper but there many opposing forces that keep that maximum speed out of reach: the NBN technology used at your address, congestion on the network during busy hours and the available CVC at your POI all have an impact on your speed. This is why the ACCC has encouraged Australian ISPs to advertise their typical evening speeds for a more accurate figure.

If your speed test results are anywhere between the average and the maximum potential speed, let’s say 85 to 100 Mbps for Fast NBN 100, you’re getting your money’s worth.

Here’s a rough guide to give you an idea of whether your current speed tier is delivering the goods. Run a speed test while connected to your home Wi-Fi using the widget below and compare the results with the table underneath.

NBN speed tiers

NBN speed tier
Poor NBN speeds
Good NBN speeds
Great NBN speeds

NBN Basic I (NBN 12)

0 - 8 Mbps

9 - 10 Mbps

11 - 12 Mbps

NBN Basic II (NBN 25)

0 - 15 Mbps

15 - 22 Mbps

22 - 25 Mbps

NBN Standard (NBN 50)

0 - 30 Mbps

35 - 40 Mbps

40 - 50 Mbps

NBN Fast (NBN 100)

0 - 60 Mbps

60 - 85 Mbps

85 - 100 Mbps

NBN Superfast (NBN 250)

0 - 110 Mbps

110 - 150 Mbps

150 - 250 Mbps

NBN Ultrafast (NBN 1000)

0 - 250 Mbps

250 Mbps to 500 Mbps

500 - 1000 Mbps

If your NBN plan is delivering speeds within the Poor range, get in touch with your provider and work through some basic troubleshooting. If your speeds don’t improve, it might be time to consider another provider.

It’s possible your current provider hasn’t purchased enough CVC in your area’s POI, causing congestion on the network.

Fastest NBN plans in each speed tier

Looking for the best possible download speed for your tier? Here are the fastest plans for each NBN speed tier. To change tiers, simply click the drop-down menu in the top left.

NBN speed jargon primer

With the introduction of the NBN, we’ve been forced to adopt an entirely new vocabulary of acronyms and technical jargon. Before we begin, let’s quickly explore some of the head-scratchers you’ll find in this article. For more, check out our full NBN terminology explainer.

Mbps

Not to be confused with megabytes (which is used to measure file size), Mbps or “megabits per second” is the metric used to measure the speed of data transfers across the internet. This standard measurement is used by internet service providers across the world. More Mbps allows you to transfer more data at once, which gives you faster downloads and more bandwidth between multiple devices.

ISP

That one’s easy. ISP stands for Internet Service Provider. Your ISP is the company that supplies your broadband connection, such as Telstra or Optus.

Typical evening speed: The ACCC has tasked ISPs with selling speeds based on real-world averages. If a network advertises 100 Mbps but can’t deliver that on average, they could land in hot water with the ACCC. This is why you will see ISPs advertise “typical evening speeds” - a more realistic expectation of what to expect when signing up to a plan.

CVC/POI

When the NBN rolls out in a suburb, ISPs are required to purchase CVC or “connectivity virtual circuit” at that suburb’s POI or “Point of Interconnect”. CVC is essentially the bandwidth on the NBN that ISPs purchase to sell to you. The more CVC your provider purchases, the more homes it can connect in your suburb. ISPs estimate how many customers they will connect in a given area and purchase an equivalent amount CVC. If the provider underestimates the amount of CVC needed in your area, you may experience congested speeds.

Now that you know, here are your next steps.

Check out the top picks for the best NBN plans

Looking to save? Check out our picks for cheap unlimited NBN

Georgia Dixon
Written by
Georgia Dixon
Georgia Dixon has over seven years' experience writing about all things tech, entertainment and lifestyle, with bylines in TechLife magazine, 7NEWS and Stuff.co.nz. In her spare time, you'll find her playing games and daydreaming about good food, wine, and dogs.

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