What is a good internet speed in Australia?

A speedy guide for how to best meet your internet speed needs in Australia.

When it comes to picking a home internet plan, speed is right up there with the cost. Picking the right internet speed will impact the versatility of your home connection. Slower NBN plans are more affordable, but faster NBN plans let you stream across multiple devices, download large files faster and generally not have to worry too much about whatever you want to do online.

Because older broadband technologies like ADSL2+ and cable internet are all but extinct now that the NBN rollout has finished, scroll on to find out which internet speed is right for you. Note that we’re focused on NBN fixed-line technologies on this page because providers are required by the ACCC to self-report their typical evening download speeds, which makes it easier to track than NBN Fixed Wireless and NBN Sky Muster satellite.

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Mbps meaning

Mbps is short for ‘megabits per second’. Unlike kilometres-per-hour that measures both speed and distance with the same term, megabits is used to talk about internet speed whereas data is talked about in megabytes. Getting technical for a breath, there are eight megabits to every megabyte, but we can all surely agree that NBN 12.5 doesn’t sound as impressive as NBN 100 if we were to talk about bandwidth speed in terms of megabytes.

NBN 12 internet speed: Bare-bones internet

These days, there aren’t too many providers that offer NBN 12 (NBN Basic I), which is the slowest NBN speed tier. While cheap, it’s limited to 12Mbps max download and 1Mbps upload. NBN 12 plans are meant for basic internet usage, including web browsing, social media and music streaming but not a whole lot else. You can see a handful of popular NBN 12 plans below.

NBN 25 internet speed: Starting point

For the average home, NBN 25 (NBN Basic II) should be considered the lowest speed tier because it has more than double the download/upload speed of NBN 12, at 25Mbps download and 5Mbps upload, which means it can handle more simultaneous online tasks. NBN 25 plans are a good choice for the home looking to save money on the monthly internet bill that still wants to stream to multiple devices in HD and handle simultaneous HD videoconferencing.

Because most providers offer parity between self-reported typical evening download speeds and the maximum theoretical download speed of an NBN 25 connection, the table below shows the most popular NBN Basic II plans.

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Typical evening download speeds

Every night, usually between 7.00pm and 11.00pm, the internet speeds tend to slow down for everyone because that’s when most people are at home watching TV shows on Netflix, downloading files, uploading smartphone pictures, playing games and, generally, using the internet. NBN providers in Australia are required to advertise self-reported typical evening download speeds (unfortunately, not upload speeds) for fixed-line metro internet connections to give consumers an idea of the download speeds they should expect during the internet’s nightly busy period.

NBN 50 internet speed: Popular for a reason

Currently, NBN 50 (NBN Standard) plans are the most popular with Australian homes and it’s easy to see why. With download speeds of up to 50Mbps and upload speeds that max out at 20Mbps, it’s a good mix of speeds and value. NBN 50 plans allow concurrent HD streams, fast file downloading and multiple HD videoconference calls.

As with NBN 25, more and more providers are shifting towards parity with advertised and max download speeds, so the table below shows a daily updating snapshot of the most popular NBN 50 plans.

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What is bandwidth and why is it important?

Bandwidth is the amount of Mbps you have available to use. The amount of internet bandwidth available to your home is determined by the NBN speed tier, your provider – including their typical evening download speed (when using the ’net at night) – and the online tasks being performed in your home. Let’s use the popular NBN 50 speed tier as an example.

This has a maximum of 50Mbps download and 20Mbps upload available. If you start streaming 4K Netflix movies to your TV, 25Mbps of your download bandwidth is gone, leaving a maximum of 25Mbps to be shared around. With two simultaneous 4K Netflix streams, you wouldn’t have any spare download bandwidth to do anything else. If you try to do something online, either the quality of your video streams would suffer or the other online activities would be slower than usual.

Additionally, that’s assuming that your provider can deliver 50Mbps download speeds. Even if those speeds are at 45Mbps, which may be the case during the busy nightly period, an NBN 50 connection couldn’t comfortably handle two concurrent 4K Netflix streams.

NBN 100 internet speed: Versatile speedster

For most fixed-line NBN connections in metro areas, NBN 100 (NBN Fast) is the fastest speed tier that homes can access. Unlike other speed tiers, NBN 100 offers two variants, both of which have up to 100Mbps download speeds, but with either a choice of up to 20Mbps or 40Mbps upload. NBN 100 plans allow for concurrent 4K streams, fast downloading of large files (including games and updates), as well as game-streaming services (like Xbox Cloud Gaming and Parsec) and, for those who gun for the plans with 40Mbps upload, streaming the games they play while also streaming a webcam.

There are a handful of providers that have parity between the 100Mbps max NBN Fast download speeds and self-reported speeds, which you can see at the top of the table of NBN 100 providers below (ranked by speed).

NBN 250 internet speed: Affordable if accessible

Homes with Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) or Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) NBN can access the NBN Superfast speed tier, which boasts download speeds of up to 250Mbps and upload speeds of up to 25Mbps. NBN 250 plans are for homes that effectively want download speeds that are NBN Fast times two, for even faster file downloading and no-compromise streaming HD and 4K videos simultaneously across multiple devices. This is a great fit for homes that want to watch four lots of SplitView sports on Kayo across multiple devices in the home.

At the time of writing, no NBN Superfast provider was offering parity with the max potential 250Mbps download speeds (though Aussie Broadband came close), but the table below shows you the ranking of NBN Superfast plans from fastest to slowest.

NBN 1000 internet speed: Full-speed ahead

At the time of writing, only FTTP homes and select HFC homes were able to tap into the blistering download speeds of NBN 1000 plans. The good news for Fibre-to-the-Curb and Fibre-to-the-Nodes homes, at least, is FTTP upgrades are coming by the end of 2023, while all NBN-serviced homes can get a free upgrade quote for a costly FTTP upgrade by using the Technology Choice Program.

NBN Ultrafast is built for homes with a Von Trapp number of internet-hungry occupants or, alternatively, the gamer home that wants as little downtime as possible when downloading games or multi-gigabyte updates. This NBN speed tier can reach download speeds of up to 950Mbps and upload speeds of up to 50Mbps.

At the time of writing, no providers came close to advertising download-speed parity, but there were a few providers offering download speeds three-and-a-half times (or more) faster than NBN 100. Check out the NBN 1000 plans below ranked in terms of fastest typical evening download speeds.

Internet speed needs by online activity

NBN Co recommends that NBN 12 is meant for minimal internet usage, NBN 25 is for homes with one or two people, and NBN 50 is for homes with three or four people, while NBN 100, NBN 250 and NBN 1000 are best for homes with five or more people.

Below is a table breaking down the different NBN speed tiers in terms of their maximum potential download speeds, upload speeds and the types of recommended activities. Note that each successive column entry for ‘Online activities’ also includes everything above it.

Online activities by NBN speed tier
NBN speed tierMax download speedMax upload speedRecommended usersOnline activities
NBN Basic (12)12Mbps1Mbps1Emailing
Web browsing
Music streaming
NBN Basic II (25)25Mbps5Mbps1–2HD video streaming
NBN Standard (50)50Mbps20Mbps3–4Concurrent HD streams
Fast file downloading
Concurrent videoconferencing
NBN Fast (100)100Mbps20Mbps
5+Concurrent 4K streams
Game streaming services
Streaming games
NBN Superfast (250)250Mbps25Mbps5+Faster file downloading
Faster file uploading
NBN Ultrafast (1000)1000Mbps50Mbps5+Fastest file downloading
Fastest file uploading
Concurrent game streaming services

Average internet speed in Australia

According to the Speedtest Global Index, a worldwide ranking of broadband speeds (and mobile), we can get an idea of the average internet speed in Australia. At the time of writing, Australia was ranked 56 out of 180 (up one position since February 2021) with an average download speed of 79.98Mbps, upload speed of 25.23Mbps and latency of 21ms. For context, the global averages at the time of writing were 105.15Mbps for download, 55.95Mbps for upload and 19ms for latency.

We can go a step further specifically for NBN users in Australia, though. By using the self-reported typical evening download speeds of the providers we track in our comparison engine, we get an idea of the average NBN fixed-line internet speed in Australia. It’s worth noting that the average internet speeds across tiers have been trending upwards over the last few months as more and more providers boost their speeds.

NBN average download speeds
NBN speed tierMax download speedAverage download speed
NBN 1212Mbps11.6Mbps
NBN 2525Mbps23.87Mbps
NBN 5050Mbps48.33Mbps
NBN 100100Mbps92.11Mbps
NBN 250250Mbps212.1Mbps
NBN 10001000Mbps350Mbps

Average download speed information is accurate as at 1/7/2021 and tends to change month to month.

The ACCC typically releases updated broadband performance data every quarter and while, like providers, the focus is more on download speeds than upload speeds, the report does provide a snapshot of NBN upload speeds during the internet’s busy period. The table below gives an idea of the average NBN upload speeds based on the data tracked for the 10 providers that are part of the report.

NBN average upload speeds
NBN speed tierMax upload speedAverage upload speed
NBN 121Mbps0.84Mbps
NBN 255Mbps4.28Mbps
NBN 5020Mbps17.09Mbps
NBN 10040Mbps34Mbps
NBN 25025Mbps21.13Mbps
NBN 100050Mbps42.11Mbps

Average download speed information is accurate as at 1/7/2021 and may change each quarter. Only providers that sell plans on each speed tier have been taken into account to determine averages for the 10 providers that are part of the ACCC report.

Internet speed for latency and webpage loading times

When people talk about internet speed, they tend to use it as shorthand for download and/or upload speeds. Latency, though, is a super-important background factor that influences how responsive real-time online services are, particularly gaming and video calls. Basically, the lower the latency, the more responsive these types of services feel.

The table below uses quarterly ACCC data for 10 providers to showcase latency and webpage loading times (lower is better for both). For context, while all of the latency values in the table below are great, MyRepublic is more than double the two quickest providers (Superloop and Aussie Broadband). While webpage loading times are a lot closer and make for ultimately negligible differences, online gamers specifically should consider a provider that offers low latency.

NBN average latency and webpage loading times
NBN providerLatencyWebpage loading time
Aussie Broadband9.6ms4.2 seconds
Dodo & iPrimus11ms4.3 seconds
Exetel12.2ms4.2 seconds
iiNet10.6ms4.2 seconds
MyRepublic20.5ms4.4 seconds
Optus10.7ms4.2 seconds
Superloop9.5ms4.3 seconds
Telstra10.3ms3.9 seconds
TPG10.5ms4.2 seconds
Vodafone10.4ms4.4 seconds

Internet speeds by online activity

Basic internet tasks like web browsing, using social media and internet banking all don’t require a whole lot in the way of download or upload speed but other online activities do. Gaming, for instance, doesn’t require much at all in terms of download or upload speed to play online, which is must more latency dependent—effectively, even an NBN 12 plan can comfortably take care of it—but the higher the NBN speed tier, the faster games and their increasingly hefty patches will download.

Below is a breakdown of online activities and the corresponding data requirements. Note that streaming services should be multiplied by the number of simultaneous streams to determine overall usage in your home (where relevant). For example, streaming Netflix in 4K on four devices simultaneously, the maximum number on a single account, would require 100Mbps of download speed to stream in uninterrupted 4K quality on all screens.

Common online activities by Mbps
Online activityMbps requiredMin. recommended NBN plan
Stan HD7.5MbpsNBN 25
Netflix 4K25MbpsNBN 50
Kayo Sports6MbpsNBN 25
Tidal music1.4MbpsNBN 12
Zoom6Mbps (3 down, 3 up)NBN 25
xCloud20Mbps (10 down, 10 up)NBN 100
ParsecUp to 50Mbps uploadNBN 1000

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