What is a good internet speed in Australia?

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

February 15, 2022
9 min read

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. Of course, you don't want your internet to be too slow.

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.

Mbps meaning
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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.

Typical evening download speeds
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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.

What is bandwidth and why is it important?
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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.

4G home wireless broadband: Half-decent speeds with a catch

Home wireless broadband is effectively a fancy way of using mobile data in a more shareable way in your home.

While it's a big step up from share your phone data by activating ‘hot spot’ mode, Home Wireless Broadband works in a very similar way. This type of internet technology connects to the same mobile phone tower your phone would, except it does so via a modem-router. That modem then shares the internet connection with the other devices in your home. The end result of this is a home internet connection with less wiring involved.

As the name might suggest, 4G home wireless broadband relies on Australia's 4G mobile networks. While these networks are technically capable of reaching speeds of up to 100Mbps in the right conditions, the reality is a little closer to 50Mbps. For example, Vodafone's 4G home wireless broadband plans cap out at 20 Mbps.

While a 4G home wireless broadband connection plan might start at a lower price-point than an NBN one, it's rarely going to be faster and it's never going to be quite as reliable as what a physical cable can offer. For that reason, 4G home wireless broadband isn't really something that's recommended for households of more than 2 people or those who need faster speeds.

5G Home Internet: Boosted broadband if you can find it

5G Home Internet is the next step up from 4G-based home wireless broadband setups, allowing for significantly faster speeds that might even be able to outpace what the NBN can offer in your area.

Those using 5G home internet should expect a minimum speed of 50Mbps. However, speeds can go as fast as 225Mbps for those using the Optus 5G network and up to 300Mbps relying on Telstra's 5G network.

On a fundamental level, 5G home internet works the same way as its 4G counterpart does. You're essentially "hotspotting" your home network via a modem-router that connects to one of Australia's three major 5G networks.

The downside here is that whether or not you're located in an area eligible for 5G home internet can be fairly hit or miss, as can the speeds involved. Factors like the distance of serviced homes from the nearest 5G tower and usual home networking factors, such as modem-router placement, can all have a big impact on the reality of 5G home internet.

At the time of writing, all three major carriers in Australia now offer 5G home internet plans with prices starting around $80/month. As you might expect, the coverage of the Telstra, Vodafone and Optus networks varies wildly.

We recommend using the tool to determine whether or not you live in an area with decent 5G coverage. You can select and deselect the telco network you’re most interested in, as well as switch between 5G, 4G and 3G mobile signals.

For many Aussies, the jury is still out on whether or not 5G home internet has what it takes to act as a replacement for the NBN. However, given the caveats and costs involved, it's likely to be as niche as its 4G predecessor. At least, for the time being. 

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 tier
Max download speed
Max upload speed
Recommended users
Online activities

NBN Basic (12)

12Mbps

1Mbps

1

Emailing, Web browsing, Music streaming

NBN Basic II (25)

25Mbps

5Mbps

1–2

HD video streaming, Videoconferencing

NBN Standard (50)

50Mbps

20Mbps

3–4

Concurrent HD streams, Fast file downloading, Concurrent videoconferencing

NBN Fast (100)

100Mbps

20Mbps40Mbps

5+

Concurrent 4K streams, Game streaming services, Streaming games

NBN Superfast (250)

250Mbps

25Mbps

5+

Faster file downloading, Faster file uploading

NBN Ultrafast (1000)

1000Mbps

50Mbps

5+

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 65 out of 180 with an average download speed of 81.36Mbps, upload speed of 24.20Mbps and latency of 21ms. For context, the global averages at the time of writing were 123.87Mbps for download, 68.87Mbps 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 Tier
Advertised download speed
Average download speed
NBN1212Mbps12.20Mbps
NBN2525Mbps25.15Mbps
NBN5050Mbps48.95Mbps
NBN100100Mbps94.8Mbps
NBN250250Mbps247.75Mbps
NBN10001000Mbps764.9Mbps

Average download speed information is accurate as at 15/2/2022 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 Tier
Advertised upload speed
Average upload speed
NBN121Mbps0.95Mbps
NBN255Mbps4.34Mbps
NBN5020Mbps16.6Mbps
NBN10040Mbps35.36Mbps
NBN25050Mbps44.4Mbps

Average download speed information is accurate as at 15/2/2022 and tends to change each quarter.

What is a good internet speed in Australia?

While finding the best internet plan for your individual needs varies from person to person, but for most people a good internet speed is at least 25Mbps. An internet connection this fast means you'll be able to do a little bit of everything, and saving a lot of money over the long run. While you won't be able to stream video content in 4K quality, your internet connection should be fast enough to handle HD content with ease in addition to more everyday tasks like videoconferencing, browsing the web and listening to music via subscription services like Spotify or Apple Music. 

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 provider
Latency
Webpage loading time

Aussie Broadband

9.6ms

4.2 seconds

Dodo & iPrimus

10ms

3.1 seconds

Exetel

9.7ms

3.0 seconds

iiNet

10ms

3.1 seconds

MyRepublic

19.6ms

3.2 seconds

Optus

10.6ms

3.0 seconds

Superloop

9.8ms

3.0 seconds

Telstra

10.4ms

2.9 seconds

TPG

10.1ms

3.2 seconds

Vodafone

8.8ms

3.1 seconds

Average download speed information is accurate as at 15/2/2022 and tends to 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 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 activity
Mbps required
Min. recommended NBN plan

Stan HD

7.5Mbps

NBN 25

Netflix 4K

25Mbps

NBN 50

Kayo Sports

6Mbps

NBN 25

Tidal music

1.4Mbps

NBN 12

Zoom

6Mbps (3 down, 3 up)

NBN 25

xCloud

20Mbps (10 down, 10 up)

NBN 100

Parsec

Up to 50Mbps upload

NBN 1000

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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