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What’s a good Internet speed in Australia – and how can you get one?

The lowest prices at every speed.

Alex Kidman
Jul 18, 2023
Icon Time To Read11 min read

Asking what a “good” internet speed is, in one sense, a question that can’t be answered, because “good” depends on your needs and usage; one person’s good speeds could be positively mediocre for another person.

Still, with the National Broadband Network (NBN) available to most Australian, and wireless alternatives, whether they’re 4G, 5G or satellite services such as Starlink all competing for your broadband dollar, how do you tell a good internet speed from a bad one? With so many services on offer, and many of them providing different speed tiers, how can you possibly pick the right one for you?

Good news: You’ve come to the right place to find out. This guide will teach you what you need to know to get the right plan for the right price without wasting money, as well as what features to look out for when you’re shopping for an NBN plan.

What is a good internet speed in Australia?

Again, this is a little variable, but we’d strongly argue that a baseline of 50Mbps downstream is the bottom tier of “good”. That equates to what most NBN retailers call “NBN 50”, but it’s also a good baseline mark if you’re looking at wireless style plans as well.

Here’s the NBN plans at NBN 50 with the highest claimed peak evening speeds you can buy right now:

How to pick the right Internet speed

Any plan that you look at, whether it’s fixed line or wireless will have some mention of speeds within it, typically represented in Megabits per second (Mbps). That figure represents the download speed of the connection – we’ll get into the difference between downloads and uploads below – and it’s critical to understand your actual usage when choosing the right “good” Internet speeds for your needs.

If you only want an Internet connection for a little light web browsing by one person, for example, then you could consider an NBN 25 connection, because web browsing only typically needs around 1-2Mbps unless you’re downloading files. Video streaming, whether your passion is for Netflix binges or ABC iView sessions can chew up a fair bit more data, with standard definition services typically needing around 3Mbps, high definition around 5Mbps and 4K jumping up to 25Mbps.

Download speeds vs upload speeds

The download speed of a typical NBN plan is its primary selling point, because most of us are online data consumers, which is to say that we download a whole lot more than we upload by a significant margin. Consider that last Netflix show you watched; the request for the show from you (an upload) was probably only a few bits at most, while the file itself probably measured in at multiple gigabits of data in HD or 4K resolution.

This is why upload speeds on consumer NBN plans are always considerably slower than download speeds, because for most of us the upload speeds can be much lower without impacting our use in perceptible ways.

However that’s not to say that you don’t need to care about your upload speeds. If you have lots of video conference meetings when you work at home, or want to stream your games online on Twitch, or need to back up large files to the cloud, that upload speed suddenly becomes a whole lot more important. To give that some context, here’s how different NBN speed tiers and their upload speeds change up the time it would take to upload a single 1GB file:

NBN Speed Tier
Maximum Upload Speed
Est. time to upload 1GB file
NBN 121Mbps2 hours, 23 mins
NBN 255Mbps28 mins, 37 secs
NBN 5020Mbps7 mins, 9 secs
NBN 100/2020Mbps7 mins, 9 secs
NBN 100/4040Mbps3 mins, 34 secs
NBN 25025Mbps5 mins, 43 secs
NBN 100050Mbps2 mins, 52 secs

So if you’re looking only at fixed line (FTTN, FTTC, FTTP, HFC) NBN plans, what are your speed choices?

NBN speed tier
Best for
Good NBN speed
Average NBN speeds

NBN Basic I (NBN 12)

One person with light online needs

12 Mbps

10 - 12 Mbps

NBN Basic II (NBN 25)

Budget choice for 1-2 people

25 Mbps

19 - 25 Mbps

NBN Standard (NBN 50)

Solid all-round pick for 2-4 people

50 Mbps

42 - 50 Mbps

NBN Fast (NBN 100)

Larger households and heavier needs

100 Mbps

90 - 100 Mbps

NBN Superfast (NBN 250)

Those who seriously need speed

250 Mbps

200 - 230 Mbps

NBN Ultrafast (NBN 1000)

Best you can get -- if you can get it

700 Mbps

200 - 700 Mbps

This is where you need to consider not only your own usage but the usage of your entire household.

For a two-person household where both people wanted to watch different 4K streams at the same time, a 50Mbps connection would be totally saturated – that’d be a good point to consider an NBN 100 plan, because most NBN plans typically run a little beneath their stated speed caps. For a bigger household streaming video, playing a few games and maybe running a home office or work from home scenario with video conferencing meetings, NBN 100 might be the smarter play to avoid delays, buffering and slow connections.

It’s really important to note that these claimed peak evening speeds are a peak speed, not necessarily a sustained one that you’re guaranteed to get for every Internet task you might have every single time. This is why we favour NBN 50 as the current sweet “best” spot for smaller households, because it’s decent for most of the tasks for one or two people most of the time. But if your household is bigger, or your needs more sustained or substantial, an NBN 100, NBN 250 or NBN 1000 plan might be a better bet.

Mbps meaning
Light Bulb

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 Plans Speeds Explained

NBN 12

  • Download Speeds
    Up to 12Mbps
    Typically 10-12Mbps during peak evening periods
  • Upload speeds
    Up to 1Mbps

NBN 12 is the absolute ground floor for fixed line NBN plans, and it’s a very basic product designed for Internet users with very basic needs indeed. While very few Australians are still on ADSL, NBN 12 speeds aren’t much better than those achieved by some ADSL users back when that was the way most of us got online. Still, it’s serviceable for single occupancy households with low online needs. We don’t typically recommend NBN 12 plans for most users, however, for two reasons. Firstly, there’s a number of NBN providers who simply don’t offer NBN 12 plans any more, so there’s less price competition for your broadband buying dollar. Also, many NBN 25 plans are priced at very similar levels – and often the same – to NBN 12 plans, giving you more speed for the same kind of price.

NBN 25

  • Download Speeds
    Up to 25Mbps
    Around 20-25Mbps during typical evening peak periods
  • Upload speeds
    Up to 5Mbps

NBN 25 plans are a solid choice for smaller households, typically 1-2 people with moderate usage. If you do drop more people onto an NBN 25 plan it won’t go offline or anything like that, but you probably will notice a drop in speed for browsing or a dip in video quality for streaming services. Incentives from NBN Co have led to some providers not offering much at this speed tier if at all, and like the comparison between NBN 12 and NBN 25, it’s often possible to score a good NBN 50 deal for the same price at NBN 25 plans.

Typical evening download speeds
Light Bulb

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

  • Download Speeds
    Up to 25Mbps
    Around 40-50Mbps during typical evening peak periods
  • Upload speeds
    Up to 20Mbps

NBN 50 plans are where there’s more competition and as a result something of a sweet spot when it comes to picking NBN plans that deliver good speeds under most circumstances. You’re still giving yourself a little bit of capacity leeway at NBN 50 for smaller households to all go online at once without substantial issues at this price point.

What is bandwidth and why is it important?
Light Bulb

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

  • Download Speeds
    Up to 100Mbps
    Around 80-100Mbps during typical evening peak periods
  • Upload speeds
    Up to 40Mbps

NBN 100 plans are a good option for larger households, and they’re also the fastest plans available to most of the population on fixed line NBN services, as FTTN connections currently top out at this speed tier. If you’ve got a busy household (or small home business) these plans are a good choice for you. There’s also some product differentiation here when it comes to NBN 100 plans, with two common speed tiers on offer, either 100/20 or 100/40. That second number is the upload speed; if you use your NBN connection for business purposes and need to shuffle large files around a lot, or want to stream yourself online then 100/40 plans might be better suited to you. If you don’t, then the savings you can make with 100/20 plans might be better value.

NBN 250

  • Download Speeds
    Up to 250Mbps
    Around 215-250Mbps during typical evening peak periods
  • Upload speeds
    Up to 25Mbps

NBN 250 plans give you a lot of speed capacity to accommodate a lot of high-need users all at once, making them a great option if you’ve got a larger shared household or home with lots of people in it. The one catch here is that they’re currently limited only to NBN connections on Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) or Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) connections. There’s also some significant variance in the typical evening speed claims for these higher speed plans, so it pays to shop around and check claimed speeds (and real world ones) before choosing a provider.

NBN 1000

  • Download Speeds
    Up to 1000Mbps
    Around 200-700Mbps during typical evening peak times
  • Upload speeds
    Up to 50Mbps

NBN 1000 is the fastest connection you can get on a fixed line NBN consumer connection in Australia right now, and under the right conditions it’s blazingly fast, easily enough for almost all consumer needs and then some. The right conditions here are the same as for NBN 250 plans – you’ve got to be on an FTTP or HFC connection – but you might notice that the evening speeds seem to drop off significantly from the peak claimed speeds. That’s because NBN telcos are wary of overpromising what they can deliver, typically instead claiming a “best effort” speed. In practical terms unless you’re hammering your connection relentlessly, at this speed tier you probably wouldn’t notice a substantial difference in any case.

How fast is wireless home internet?

Your other option aside from the NBN is to choose a wireless Internet provider. Here you’ve got a choice of methods to get the Internet into your home, with 4G home broadband, 5G fixed wireless, true mobile broadband or satellite services such as Starlink to consider. 

Home broadband in either 4G or 5G flavours uses the same mobile broadband networks that your smartphone connects to for Internet services, but with a modem that’s assigned to your specific address or locality. Mobile broadband uses the same networks, but with modem devices – typically either battery-backed hotspot devices or USB-based modems, while satellite services such as Starlink require specific installed hardware at your home or premises to connect.

How fast is 4G home broadband?

While 4G can handle more throughput, most home 4G broadband plans have much more moderate speeds in mind. That’s partly because like any other wireless service there can be considerable variance, but also to ensure that they can reasonably deliver at or near what they claim. As such, most 4G home broadband plans tend to top out at around 25Mbps down at most, with uploads at 2Mbps or similar, and many sit at just 20Mbps downstream.

Here's the fastest 4G plan speeds you can get right now:

How fast is 5G home broadband?

As you might expect, 5G home broadband is a bit faster than its 4G counterpart, though you don’t have quite as many choices when it comes to actual providers offering it. You may also find that some providers won’t offer 5G home broadband to you depending on their 5G coverage maps.

The good news here is that many of these plans offer differentiated speed tiers at 50Mbps, 100Mbps or at “uncapped” speeds, where you get as good as your current 5G network conditions can manage. Bear in mind that some of these plans do still come with data cap limits depending on the provider you choose. If you don’t want to go back to the bad old days of counting data against your data cap, opt for an unlimited data plan.

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.

How fast is mobile broadband?

Mobile broadband services are, at a functional level, absolutely no different to the connection you’re already able to get from your smartphone or SIM-enabled tablet or laptop. That means that their speeds can be quite variable, because there’s a lot of factors at play. The connection type – 4G or 5G, with 5G typically being faster – plays its part. So too does the status of the network, because if everyone’s trying to use those networks in your location then everyone’s speeds drop. If you’ve ever tried to use your phone after a concert or sports event from a stadium, you’ll know what we mean there. Then your actual location will have an effect too, because heavier walls, or nearby hills, and some electronic equipment can affect mobile broadband signals. Finally, the technical capabilities of the device you’re using to actually make the connection can limit speeds.

So what’s a “good” mobile broadband speed? On 4G, you should see somewhere between 20-100Mbps down, though most providers play it very cautious when it comes to speed claims for 4G. On 5G those figures do go up, but again it can be highly variable, with speeds up to and above 500Mbps sometimes feasible – and sometimes not.

Mobile broadband can work from battery-backed hotspots, USB modems or just about any phone or tablet device capable of Wi-Fi sharing. One factor to bear in mind here is that while you can technically use a standard phone plan with its data inclusion in this way, some plans do prohibit or limit this kind of sharing to additional devices. Also, while some explicitly “mobile broadband” plans offer terms like “endless data”, this often involves a level of full-speed data in your contract month. Once that data usage is exhausted, you’re shuffled onto a much slower speed tier until your contract month terms expires.

Here's what you can get if you’re shopping for a 4G mobile broadband plan:

Here are your fastest claimed choices for 5G mobile broadband plan:

How fast is Starlink?

Starlink is another option open to Australians, especially those in remote or regional areas, using a specific constellation of low earth orbit (LEO) satellites to provide coverage. Unlike the NBN, Starlink is a private company that very much can decline to offer you service in a given area, with a stated aim to provide better coverage for more remote areas. As such, it’s more of a direct competitor to services such as NBN’s Sky Muster satellite services, though you can try to sign up for a Starlink service technically from anywhere in Australia.

Starlink claims considerably better typical speeds than Sky Muster, but at a serious price premium. Here’s what you’ll pay for a satellite NBN plan monthly.

Alex Kidman
Written by
Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman is some kind of word-generating AI from the future that somehow worked out how to sneak back in time to 1998 to start its journalism career. Across that time, including editorial stints at ZDNet, CNET, Gizmodo, PC Mag and Finder, as well as contributions to every major tech masthead, nobody has quite managed to figure out this deeply held secret. Let’s keep it between us, OK?

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