Here Are the Best NBN Alternatives Available Right Now

Here Are the Best NBN Alternatives Available Right Now
Contributor: Fergus Halliday
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If you’re constantly frustrated by an unreliable NBN connection, then it might be time for a change. Thankfully, there is no shortage of options from the growing roster of 5G home internet plans to their 4G-powered predecessors, along with supersized mobile broadband plans. While these NBN alternatives might not be the right fit for every home, there are plenty of Aussies out there who could get away with a home wireless broadband or mobile broadband plan and don’t know it.

These days, the NBN is far from the only game in town if you’re looking for high-speed internet. Ready to go down the rabbit hole? Here’s a quick round-up of the best home wireless and mobile broadband plans available in Australia.

NBN alternative #1: 5G home wireless internet

5G isn’t available everywhere and to everyone just yet, but it’s become significantly easier to access over the last two years. Where once only one or two providers offered this NBN alternative, you can now find 5G home internet plans through Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, iiNet, TPG, Internode, and SpinTel.

As for how it works, 5G home internet is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a 5G-powered internet solution that’s intended as a wireless alternative to the fixed-line connection that most NBN plans involve.

As opposed to the 5G mobile or 5G mobile broadband plans available from Telstra and others, 5G home internet plans aren’t really designed with on-the-go usage in mind. This type of internet connection relies on a 5G modem, which requires a constant and stable power source.

The specific modem will vary based on your provider, but in most cases, the function it serves isn’t all that different from that of a regular gateway modem. It even comes with a similar set of gigabit ethernet ports.

Regardless of the modem involved, Australian 5G home internet plans come in two formats: capped and uncapped. If you get a capped plan, you’ll be limited to maximum speeds of either 50Mpbs or 100Mbps. You also might encounter some slower internet speeds during peak hours. That’s not ideal, but it’s not that dissimilar to an NBN 50 or NBN 100 plan.

Already sold? Here’s a round-up of the capped 5G home internet plans, most of which come with a free trial:

If the strings attached to the 5G home internet plans above have you irked, an uncapped plan might be the better bet. These plans can go as fast as your network conditions allow.

However, the exact speeds will depend on your coverage and congestion, but 200Mbps is usually a pretty safe average. Both Optus and SpinTel are reporting typical evening speeds of 240Mbps. Meanwhile, Telstra has a range of 50 to 600Mbps, it’s reporting typical speeds of around 336Mbps.

Here’s a look at the uncapped 5G home internet plans you can get in Australia:

Regardless of whether you opt for an uncapped or capped 5G home internet plan, the majority of 5G home internet providers will throw in the first month for free or with some form of discount. These offers make it much less risky to try out 5G home internet for yourself. If you find it isn’t for you, you can simply cancel your plan without paying your cent, so long as you return your modem to your telco.

However, if you cancel an Optus 5G home internet plan within your first 36 months, you’ll be faced with a modem fee equivalent to $16 for each month left in your three-year term. That’s a maximum of $576.

Fortunately, there is one way to dodge this exit fee. If you sign up and struggle to get speeds of at least 50Mbps and there’s nothing that Optus can do to improve the situation, they’ll let you mail back your modem and get out of the plan scot-free.

It’s a somewhat similar story for SpinTel as well. The telco will charge you a $4 per month modem rental fee with a one-off $25 delivery fee. If you cancel your service, you’ll be required to return the modem within 21 days or you’ll be charged the full value of the modem ($935).

NBN alternative #2: 4G home wireless broadband

If you’re not lucky enough to live in an area with 5G coverage, 4G home wireless broadband might be the next best thing. This type of internet plan works much the same way as 5G home wireless does, but the speeds involved are a bit slower.

Some 4G-powered home wireless broadband plans also come with speed caps while others promise to give you as many megabytes per second as a 4G connection can offer.

For example. If you’re looking at signing up for a 4G home internet plan within the wider TPG family of providers – which includes TPG, iiNet, Internode, Vodafone, and Kogan – you’ll be restricted to download speeds of up to 20Mbps. That’s just a bit slower than what you could be getting with an NBN 25 connection, and it’s not usually all that much cheaper.

If you want faster home wireless broadband, SpinTel is reporting average speeds of 20Mbps, while Optus has max speeds of 25Mbps.

Here’s a look at the capped 4G home internet plans:

NBN alternative #3: 4G mobile broadband

This next NBN alternative is something of a midstep between the 4G home internet plans above and the mobile plan that gets you the gigabytes you use to stream TikTok on your smartphone.

The average mobile broadband plan has a smaller data allowance than a 4G home wireless broadband plan might, but you won’t have to worry about any speed caps and you can take your connection with you from one location to another. The dongles and portable hotspots you use with mobile broadband plans tend to be battery-powered, so they’re great for hitting the road.

If that sounds like a little too much hassle, you can always just get a SIM-only mobile broadband plan and use it with your own hotspot, a tablet, or even a spare phone.

Here are some SIM-only mobile broadband plans with at least 100GB. Just be aware that you’ll need to bring your own modem with these.

If you’re after the cheapest big data provider here, Tangerine is the way to go. This provider offers 100GB of Telstra-powered mobile broadband for just $29.90 per month for the first six months. After that, you’re looking at $34.90 per month.

If you need a few more gigabytes, Tangerine has the largest mobile plan around with a 400GB allowance billed at $59.90 per month for the first six months, and then $64.90 per month thereafter.

NBN alternative #4: 5G mobile broadband

If you’re not into the speed limits that come with 4G mobile broadband, then 5G mobile broadband might be a more natural choice. As you might expect, this particular NBN alternative also requires you to keep a portable hotspot or pocket Wi-Fi modem with 5G network connectivity on hand. However, compared to 4G mobile broadband, you’re looking at significantly faster upload and download speeds.

At the time of writing, Telstra and Optus are the only telcos with a 5G-ready portable hotspot.

On Telstra, your cheapest option is the Telstra 5G Wi-Fi Pro, which will add $24.95 per month to your bill in device costs on a 24-term month (or $599 outright). You’ll also need to opt for the telco’s 30GB plan at a minimum, but if you’re looking to replace your NBN connection, the 400GB plan is the better choice.

Here are Telstra’s 5G-ready mobile broadband plans. Note that these exclude modem costs:

On Optus, your only 5G portable hotspot option is the ZTE 5G Modem. This will add $18.12 per month to your bill on a 24-month term. As with Telstra, you’ll also need to factor in the cost of a mobile broadband plan.

Here is Optus’ 5G-ready mobile broadband plan:

Fergus Halliday is a journalist at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website. This article has been updated since it was first published.

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At Gizmodo, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.