Telstra NBN vs Optus NBN vs TPG NBN: Which one is best?

Three big-name providers go to war.

Nathan Lawrence
January 10, 2022
6 min read

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You may be aware that when it comes to picking a mobile phone plan in Australia, you’re effectively signing up to one of three networks, even if you don’t sign up with a network provider. There’s either the massive Telstra network, the expansive Optus network or the large Vodafone network.

When it comes to NBN, though, while there are provider networks that connect to the NBN, their importance isn’t necessarily as significant to the overall performance of NBN plans. Before we dive into this misconception, let’s take a look at the three big popular NBN providers in Australia: Telstra, Optus and TPG.

Telstra NBN overview

As with its mobile plans, Telstra NBN plans come with a premium price tag. That extra price does include some pretty neat perks, though: namely, some best-in-class self-reported typical evening download speeds, a landline phone service and a preconfigured p0. Admittedly, those perks also come with disclaimers, which include Fibre-to-the-Building (FTTB), Fibre-to-the-Curb (FTTC) and Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN) homes needing to connect before their speeds can be confirmed.

The included phone service does neatly bundle unlimited standard calls to local, national and Australian mobile numbers. Meanwhile, the second-generation Telstra Smart Modem includes 4G backup (restricted to 25/2Mbps speeds), but you do have to stay connected for 24 months before you’re free of a hardware exit fee (alternatively, pay $216 outright or $9 a month over two years).

In terms of perks, Telstra customers can tap into the Telstra Air network in Australia or Fon hotspots when overseas, but speeds weren’t particularly flash in my tests. Other perks include the Telstra Plus membership program for entertainment perks, Telstra Broadband Protect antivirus security at no additional cost, and a 30-day NBN satisfaction guarantee if you want to cancel and get your money back for faults that can’t be fixed.

According to the ACCC, average daily outages for Telstra NBN connections had risen slightly between Q3 and Q4 2022, though were still a respectable 0.39 overall.

Telstra NBN plans

Telstra sells NBN plans on five NBN speed tiers, all of which come with unlimited data:

  • NBN 25 (NBN Basic II)
  • NBN 50 (NBN Standard)
  • NBN 100 (NBN Fast)
  • NBN 250 (NBN Superfast)
  • NBN 1000 (NBN Ultrafast)

In terms of typical evening download speeds, Telstra self-reported 25Mbps for its NBN 25 plans, 50Mbps for NBN 50, 100Mbps for NBN 100, 250Mbps for NBN 250 and 700Mbps for NBN 1000 plans. Note that only Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) homes and some Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) homes can sign up to NBN 250 plans with Telstra, while all FTTP addresses and a small number of HFC abodes can sign up to Telstra NBN 1000 plans. Similarly, Telstra’s NBN 100 plans are only available to FTTP, HFC and FTTC homes.

Disclaimers aside, Telstra’s NBN plans rank among the fastest in the country up to NBN 100, and they are the fastest for NBN 250 and NBN 1000 plans. You can see all of Telstra’s NBN plans below, including any Telstra NBN deals that may be running:

Optus NBN

Optus occupies a similar space in the NBN space as it does in the world of mobile plans, closely competing with Telstra by offering cheaper plans albeit with similar inclusions (for the most part). You don’t just get an NBN plan with Optus; instead, Optus NBN plans include unlimited data, a subscription to Optus Sport and OS Fitness, as well as an Optus Ultra WiFi modem. Optus has the same FTTB, FTTC, FTTN disclaimer as Telstra, stating that speeds for even its cheapest plan will be confirmed post-connection.

Like Telstra, Optus plans come with a landline phone service, but this is a PAYG phone service that costs $10 a month extra to add unlimited calls to standard Australian numbers (including mobile). Additionally, you can pay an extra $10 to add unlimited standard landline calls to 25 selected dialling destinations with mobile calls to seven countries. The Optus Ultra WiFi Modem has 4G backup, capped at 25/2Mbps, and it’s yours to keep without paying a hardware exit fee if you stick with Optus for 36 months.

According to ACCC data, average daily outages for Optus NBN connections had risen slightly between Q3 and Q4 2022 (from 0.14 to 0.19).

Optus NBN plans

Optus shuns the two slowest NBN speed tiers and kicks things off at the most popular speed tier in Australia:

  • NBN 50 (NBN Standard)
  • NBN 100 (NBN Fast)
  • NBN 250 (NBN Superfast)
  • NBN 1000 (NBN Ultrafast)

For the first three speed tiers, Optus is a fast provider, self-reporting 50Mbps for its NBN 50 plans, 100Mbps for NBN 100 and 215Mbps for its NBN 250 plans. Things slow down noticeably for its NBN 1000 plans, though, with play-it-safe 250Mbps self-reported typical evening download speeds. It’s worth noting that even the Optus NBN 50 plans have an “available in selected areas” disclaimer, while NBN 250 and NBN 1000 plans are additionally restricted to selected FTTP and HFC homes only.

Check out all of the Optus NBN plans from our database below:

TPG NBN overview

While Telstra and Optus stick to unlimited-data NBN plans, TPG still offers a selection of data-capped NBN plans alongside its unlimited-data offerings. For those who sign up to one of these data-capped plans, speeds are slowed to either a paltry 32Kbps or a not-much-better 128Kbps if you go over your monthly allowance.

TPG takes a no-perks approach to its NBN plans to keep costs down. While you do have to bring your own NBN-compatible modem with most TPG NBN plans, you can also buy a modem-router outright from the provider: either a TP-Link Archer VR1600v, Huawei HG658 or Huawei HG659. None of these modem-routers has 4G backup. Alternatively, commit to a six-month plan and TPG will throw in the modem-router for no extra cost.

According to ACCC data, average daily outages for TPG NBN connections had risen a bit between Q3 and Q4 2021: from 0.39 to 0.40.

TPG NBN plans

TPG offers NBN plans on all six mainstream NBN speed tiers:

  • NBN 12 (NBN Basic I)
  • NBN 25 (NBN Basic II)
  • NBN 50 (NBN Standard)
  • NBN 100 (NBN Fast)
  • NBN 250 (NBN Superfast)
  • NBN 1000 (NBN Ultrafast)

Self-reported download speeds start off in a great place with parity between max potential speed and self-reported speeds: 12Mbps for NBN 12, 25Mbps for NBN 25 and 50Mbps for NBN 50. That’s where the parity party ends, though, with decent 90Mbps for NBN 100 plans, okay 200Mbps for NBN 250 and conservative 250Mbps for NBN 1000. Familiar disclaimers return, too, with NBN 250 and NBN 1000 plans only available to FTTP homes and selected HFC areas (which is, admittedly, a technology restriction).

The list below has a daily updating round-up of all TPG NBN plans, sorted by price:

Telstra NBN vs Optus NBN vs TPG NBN

It’s worth noting that all three big-name providers also offer NBN business plans, specifically tailored to small and medium-sized businesses. For the residential plans mentioned above, though, it really is a case of what you’re after. If you want the greatest self-reported speeds available and perks aplenty, Telstra NBN makes the most sense.

For a cheaper alternative that also comes with a preconfigured NBN-compatible modem and 4G backup as well as a lower chance of NBN outages, check out Optus. TPG continues the trend it started from its ADSL days of offering competitively priced plans, albeit light on perks and not the fastest overall. There are viable reasons to consider all three, depending on whether you’re interested in low costs, fastest speeds or a mix of speed and value.

Check out the table below for a comparison between the big three in terms of key considerations.

Key metrics
Telstra NBN
Optus NBN
NBN plansNBN 25
NBN 50
NBN 250 (FTTP, some HFC)
NBN 1000 (FTTP, limited HFC)
NBN 50
NBN 100
NBN 250 (selected FTTP, HFC)
NBN 1000 (selected FTTP, HFC)
NBN 12
NBN 25
NBN 50
NBN 100
NBN 250 (FTTP, selectd HFC)
NBN 1000 (FTTP, selectd HFC)
Evening download speeds25Mbps
NBN modemTelstra Smart Modem Gen 2 (24 months)Optus Ultra WiFi modem (36 months)BYO
TP-Link Archer VR1600v (6-month contract)
Huawei HG658 (6-month contract)
Huawei HG659 (6-month contract)
Daily outages (Q4 2022)0.39 (all)0.19 (all)0.40 (all)
Best forSpeed and perksMix of speed, price and perksLowest prices

And check out the daily updating list below for a snapshot of the most cheap NBN plans from Telstra, Optus and TPG.

Telstra, Optus, TPG speed test
All this talk of speed. It would be great to have a way to test whether your Telstra, Optus or TPG NBN is up to speed. Well, you can! Use the handy tool below to perform a Telstra NBN, Optus NBN or TPG NBN speed test (it also works on any other type of internet connection). Just click or tap on ‘Start Speed Test’ to see your download speeds. Optionally, tap or click on ‘Show More Info’ to test latency and upload speeds.

Telstra NBN, Optus NBN and TPG NBN vs other NBN providers

Ultimately, you don’t have to start with Telstra, Optus or TPG NBN plans, and if the regular winners of our best NBN plans are any indication, you absolutely should start with other providers first. For starters, Spintel is a competitively priced NBN provider that regularly offers promotional pricing and is a great provider to consider for plans up to NBN 100. The same is true of Tangerine, plus you can also find competitive pricing and decent speeds from the likes of Superloop, Dodo NBN, Belong and Southern Phone.

To prove the point, have a look at the daily updating list of plans from our comparison engine, which starts with bare-bolts NBN 12 plans:

And here’s how NBN 25 plans look in terms of price:

Expect to see many other provider names outside of the big three in front of the most cheap NBN 50 plans below:

Below is a daily updating snapshot of NBN 100 plans from our database:

Expect tighter competition for NBN 250 plans, especially given the speed advantages of providers like Telstra:

Finally, given there isn’t a massive number of NBN providers selling NBN 1000 plans, you should expect to see Telstra, Optus and TPG in the daily updating list of plans below:

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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