What is Home Wireless Broadband?

Get rid of one more cable when it comes to turning your home into a wire-free WiFi zone.

Published on November 14, 2021
5 min read

Broadband internet has come a long way. Cable internet was once all the rage, but ADSL and its successor ADSL2+ was more ubiquitous. Then along came the NBN. But while the NBN is the current dominant form of broadband internet in Australia, there’s a growing list of viable NBN alternatives.

Mobile broadband is one of these alternatives, whether via dedicated plan or tethering a big-data plan. Similarly, Elon Musk is making waves with speedy satellite contender Starlink. And finally, you can simplify a lot of your at-home ’net needs by considering a home wireless broadband plan.

Photograph of a couple using a phone and laptop

Home Wireless Broadband plans

At the time of writing, we had a dozen home wireless broadband plans in our comparison engine. They range in price from $49.95 per month for the Spintel Wireless Broadband 200GB plan and stretch up to $69 a month (with a $209 upfront fee) for the Exetel Home Wireless Broadband Plan, which has 250GB of data.

We have a separate page for the best home wireless broadband plans, but below is a full list of home wireless broadband plans sorted by popularity from our comparison engine.

Home wireless broadband providers

Our comparison engine currently tracks home wireless broadband plans from a handful of different providers. Expect that number to grow if Southern Phone starts offering home wireless broadband plans again soon. 

Here’s a look at the home wireless broadband providers in our comparison engine:

  • Telstra
  • Spintel
  • TPG
  • Vodafone
  • Optus
  • iiNet
  • Internode
  • Exetel

What is Home Wireless Broadband?

Photograph of the Telstra 5G home modem

Home wireless broadband is effectively a fancy way of using mobile data in a more shareable way in your home. While you can use smartphone tethering to share your phone data by activating ‘hot spot’ mode, Home Wireless Broadband connects to the same mobile phone tower your phone would, except it’s via a modem-router that then shares the internet connection with the devices in your home.

Speeds to expect with Home Wireless Broadband

Currently, most Home Wireless Broadband plans are based on 4G speeds. This means the Home Wireless Broadband plans you can buy today are restricted to the max speeds of the 4G network, which is dependent on tower congestion and how far you are from your nearest one. Technically, this means speeds can reach up to 100Mbps with the right conditions, but lower speed expectations are more practical.

For certain plans, lower speed expectations are more of a certainty. The Exetel Home Wireless Broadband Plan, for instance, has capped speeds of 12Mbps. Meanwhile, TPG, Internode and iiNet all offer unlimited-data Home Wireless Broadband plans, albeit with speeds up to 20Mbps, which is the cap Felix Mobile uses for its endless-data mobile plan. For Spintel and Optus Home Wireless Broadband plans, you can expect download speeds of up to 50Mbps.

Depending on the provider, speeds may be capped to 1.5Mbps if you go over your monthly data allowance or you may have to pay extra. If you’re curious about your internet speed, our speed test below works for NBN, mobile and Home Wireless Broadband connections.

What about 5G Home Wireless Broadband?

Telstra has recently launched its own 5G Home Wireless Broadband plan and while we haven't tested the speeds ourself, users in the pre-launch trial reported particularly impressive speeds: between 50Mbps and 600Mbps during the busy evening period, with an average download speed of 378Mbps. Given that 75% of the Australian population is in the Telstra 5G network footprint, this is an exciting proposition for those looking for a speedy NBN alternative.

For those who want a taste of 5G speeds, there are two Optus Home Wireless Broadband plans to consider today. Both plans come with unlimited data, but the 5G Internet Everyday plan costs $75 a month for download speeds between 50Mbps and 100Mbps, with typical evening download speeds of 77Mbps. The 5G Internet Entertainer plan costs $90 a month for speeds that may go as low as 50Mbps, but download speeds also aren’t capped and typically reach speeds around 225Mbps during the busy evening period. You can pay $200 upfront if you want to go month-to-month with either of these plans or skip the fee by opting for a 24-month contract.

Modems you can use with Home Wireless

Most of the Home Wireless Broadband plans in our comparison engine come with a compatible modem-router, with Spintel the only BYO exception. TPG offers a $0 Home Wireless Smart Modem Gateway, which is yours to keep if you stay connected for 24 months or you can return it if you leave before then. This is the same device offered on iiNet and Internode Home Wireless Broadband plans.

Vodafone offers the Vodafone Wi-Fi Hub 2.0 for its Home Wireless Broadband plans, which has a $0 fee if you stay connected for 36 months. The Optus Home Wireless Broadband plans come with the Optus Ultra WiFi modem, which also costs $0 if you stay connected for 36 months.

Finally, the Exetel Home Wireless Broadband plan comes with a NetComm NL1901ACV WiFi modem-router, which costs $114.50 delivered if you opt for the 12-month contract or $209 if you choose a month-to-month plan.

For those who want a taste of 5G speeds, there are two Optus Home Wireless Broadband plans to consider today. Both plans come with unlimited data, but the 5G Internet Everyday plan costs $75 a month for download speeds between 50Mbps and 100Mbps, with typical evening download speeds of 77Mbps. The 5G Internet Entertainer plan costs $90 a month for speeds that may go as low as 50Mbps, but download speeds also aren’t capped and typically reach speeds around 225Mbps during the busy evening period. You can pay $200 upfront if you want to go month-to-month with either of these plans or skip the fee by opting for a 24-month contract.

Home wireless broadband vs mobile broadband

If you’re thinking this Home Wireless Broadband schtick sounds a lot like mobile broadband, well, you’re half right. Both technologies do rely on mobile data. But while mobile broadband plans are built to be used while you’re out and about, Home Wireless Broadband is intended as an alternative for home internet.

The speeds may be comparable, but the big difference is the amount of data you get per month. For mobile broadband, data starts at as little as 1.5GB and stretches up to 400GB. For Home Wireless Broadband, data caps start at 200GB and extend up to 500GB or even unlimited data (albeit at capped speeds).

The other difference is that, like signing up for an NBN plan, Home Wireless Broadband plans typically require you to enter your address to confirm that you have adequate reception from the respective phone network to practically use the service.

Here's a quick look at some of the most popular mobile broadband plans available for comparison. 

Home Wireless Broadband vs NBN

In terms of speed and reliability, Home Wireless Broadband is closer to NBN Fixed Wireless and NBN satellite than the NBN technologies used in metro areas. For download speeds, Home Wireless Broadband can technically reach NBN 100 speeds but its best-case scenario is closer to NBN 50. The capped-speed plan from Exetel is the equivalent of bare-bolts NBN 12 download speeds, while the 20Mbps max speeds from TPG, Internode and iiNet are slightly slower than NBN 25 plans.

Upload speed for Home Wireless Broadband should hit in the vicinity of 5Mbps to 10Mbps on speedier plans, based on 4G speeds, but the most popular NBN plans (NBN 50) have upload speeds of up to 20Mbps, with 40Mbps part of select NBN 100 plans and 50Mbps for NBN 1000 offerings. Expect latency of around 30ish milliseconds but fixed-line NBN technologies should have latency around half that.

Nathan Lawrence
Written by
Nathan Lawrence

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