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Optus vs. Telstra NBN: Plans compared
Ding-ding. We’ve entered round two of our Optus vs. Telstra match-up.
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While there’s a serious conversation to be had about the red-hot rivalry between Optus and Telstra in the mobile space, things aren’t as complicated when it comes to broadband (for now, at least).
With that said, there are a few key data points we can compare that paint a picture of what it’s like being a customer on either network. Optus still has the upper hand when it comes to price, and has better typical evening download speeds according to ACCC's broadband speed test program. With that said, Telstra beats Optus when it comes to customer experience and stability. While the ACCC reports that Optus customers experience better speeds and fewer outages on average, its reports also show that Telstra outperforms Optus in terms of latency and web page loading time.
The rise of home wireless broadband plans has also reignited the fierce rivalry between Australia’s telcos as more and more users choose to rely on 4G mobile speeds for their home internet connection. And with the 5G network slowly creeping its way into major Australian cities, the broadband battle is starting to heat up again. Before we kick things off, here's a quick glimpse at the most popular NBN internet plans from Telstra and Optus.
Optus vs. Telstra: Unlimited NBN plans
Optus and Telstra offer unlimited data on all their fixed-line NBN plans.
There are a few important differences to note, however.
Telstra's NBN plans are genuinely contract-free. If you leave within your first two years, you'll just need to return your modem to avoid paying a non-return fee.
Optus' NBN plans are technically contract-free, but have a big catch. If you leave within your first 36 months, you'll need to pay out the prorated value of your modem. This is equivalent to $7 for each month left in your three-year term on a standard plan, or $13 per month on an Entertainer plan.
There are also differences when it comes to speeds on offer. Optus offers NBN 50 (Standard), NBN 100 (Fast), NBN 250 (Superfast), and NBN 1000 (Ultrafast) plans.
Here's how much each will set you back.
Telstra also has NBN 25 (Basic II) plans, but isn't currently offering NBN 1000 plans to new customers on Upfront plans.
Check out the prices for each speed tier below.
Telstra vs. Optus: Cheapest NBN plans
If you're simply looking for the cheapest unlimited data plans from these two providers, here's what you'll get.
Compared to just about every other provider in Australia, Telstra's cheapest plan is incredibly poor value, offering NBN 25 speeds for $80 per month.
Again, Optus isn't the best value provider on the market (more on that below), but if you're after its cheapest plan, its $79 Internet Everyday option isn't too bad and offers twice the speed of the similarly-priced Telstra plan above.
What are my other options?
When it comes to Telstra vs. Optus, you might as well go the country mile if you’re already paying a premium. But as we mentioned up top, there’s not a massive difference in quality when it comes to an NBN connection so don’t feel beholden to the biggest telcos just because of their top-tier mobile offerings.
The NBN rollout has lured an army of smaller broadband providers out of the woodwork and they’re just as viable as Telstra and Optus, at a much lower price.
We recommend Tangerine for a flexible and affordable NBN 50 plan with unlimited data. For the cheapest of the cheap, you can’t go past SpinTel's unlimited basic speed plan. And if you want premium speed with a friendly price tag, don’t look past MATE.
Sick of researching? These are the most cheap NBN 50 plans this week according to WhistleOut's comparison engine.
Optus vs. Telstra: Bundles and packages
Both providers offer the option to bundle entertainment extras with their broadband products.
Optus customers taking up an Entertainer plan will get a Netflix standard subscription included at no extra cost through the telco's SubHub platform.
Entertainer plans also include a WiFi Booster, which could be helpful for larger homes.
While Optus Sport is no longer included for free, all Optus customers can get it at a discounted rate of $6.99 per month. Non-customers pay $24.99 per month.
Telstra customers can pay $9 extra per month on any NBN plan to get a Telstra TV 2 box included. Telstra TV 2 is a reskinned Roku box (a popular set-top box in the US) and while it doesn’t include access to exclusive content, it does have apps for Netflix, Stan, Prime Video, Foxtel Now, Binge, Kayo Sports, Hayu and more.
Lastly, Telstra also offers Xbox All Access, a bundle option that gets you an Xbox Series S or Xbox Series X console, and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (valued at $15.95 per month). The Xbox Series S bundle costs an additional $33 per month (or $792 over 24 months), and the Xbox Series X bundle costs an additional $46 per month (or $1,104 over 24 months).
Does Optus or Telstra offer faster internet speed?
If both providers have 100Mbps broadband plans there shouldn’t be a difference in the speed they deliver, right? Wrong. Although most providers offer an NBN 100 option, the actual speed delivered on their plans depends on a multitude of factors but most importantly, how much Connectivity Virtual Circuit (CVC) the provider has purchased in your area.
CVC is essentially a bandwidth currency. If a provider has purchased enough CVC in your area, you shouldn’t experience much congestion, and as a result, faster speeds. If the provider has underestimated the bandwidth it needs in an area, its customers may experience congestion and slower speeds. We’ve got more information on CVC in our guide to NBN speeds.
Thankfully, there are a few institutions reporting on the performance of Australian ISPs. Most notably, the ACCC and Netflix.
Is Optus NBN really faster than Telstra?
Based on the latest ACCC report for data from August 2022, Telstra had a slight edge over Optus in terms of both peak hour download and upload speeds.
Optus was ever so slightly faster in terms of web page load time and latency.
In both cases, the differences are so minimal we wouldn't expect them to make much of a real-world difference.
Optus did however rack up more outages (lasting more than 30 seconds) than Telstra. Optus customers, on average, experience one outage every three or so days, versus one every five or so days on Telstra.
In terms of Netflix's tracking program, the two providers are neck-and-neck.
Download speed ↑
Upload speed ↑
Web page loading time ↓
Daily outages per user (avg) ↓
Average streaming speed (mbps) ↑
↑ = Higher the better
↓ = Lower the better
Best NBN providers in Australia
These providers are your best options for fast, affordable broadband in 2022.
Optus vs. Telstra: Home wireless broadband
Optus is embracing an NBN-free future with its outstanding home wireless broadband plans. Optus is currently selling its 4G Home Internet plans at $59 per month with unlimited data capped to speeds of 20Mbps. You can either pay for your modem upfront to commit to a 24-month contract.
If the NBN still isn’t available (or isn't reliable) in your area, home wireless broadband is a solid alternative.
Optus even offer 5G home wireless plans in selected areas for as little as $79 with unlimited data. Optus' cheapest 5G home internet plan has speeds capped to 100Mbps, but it also has an uncapped option for a little extra each month.
Just note that if you leave within your first 36 months, you'll need to pay out a prorated modem fee. This is equivalent to $16 for each month left in your three-year term.
Telstra has a 5G home internet plan with a 1TB allowance. While that isn't quite unlimited, it will be more than enough for more. Telstra offers uncapped 5G home speeds, with its guidance suggesting speeds between 50Mbps and 600Mbps.
Telstra's 5G home internet plan is completely contract-free. If you're unhappy, you can leave at any time. You simply need to send back your modem to avoid paying a non-return fee.
Naming conventions in the broadband space can unnecessarily vague. Home wireless broadband plans, as Optus has decided to call them, are simply mobile broadband plans with larger data allowances intended as an alternative to fixed-line broadband connections.
So as not to distract from its fixed-line range, Optus used to throttle the speed on its home wireless broadband plans (meaning you couldn’t take full advantage of 4G speeds). That’s not the case anymore, but you still can’t purchase a 4G home wireless plan with unlimited data.
Optus also offers 5G home wireless broadband deals to customers with 5G coverage. Interestingly, these actually do come with unlimited data.
Is Telstra better than Optus?
Though their plans may look similar, the two telcos are pretty different when it comes to pricing, customer service and stability. If saving money and having a more stable service is your number one priority, then Optus would be a better choice than Telstra (but other providers offer better cheap, unlimited NBN plans).
Optus offers a little more bang for your buck when it comes to bundles; Fetch might not be the most favourable entertainment option, but it does offer 4K streaming, scheduled recording, and 1 premium channel pack fetch (Vibe, Knowledge, Kids or Variety). However, Telstra offers more bundling options, with Telstra TV and Xbox One console add-ons available.
Both providers' branded modems offer 4G backup these days (to cover you in the event of an outage) but user reviews suggest Telstra's Smart WiFi Modem is the more popular choice. 4G backup allows your modem to switch to the mobile network via a SIM card in the event of a fixed-line outage.
Telstra charges a premium but doesn't show a whole lot for it (the exception being their 5G home internet plan). If you’re after quality service at a cheaper price, Optus offers much better value and should satisfy most users.
Optus vs Telstra Broadband recap
|Cheapest Premium (NBN 100)|
|Better customer satisfaction|
|Best home wireless|
|Better Netflix streaming|
|Better download speeds (ACCC)|
|Better upload speeds (ACCC)|
|Faster web page loading|