Telstra, Optus and Other Telcos Give You 4G When Your NBN Goes Down

Telstra, Optus and Other Telcos Give You 4G When Your NBN Goes Down

NBN dropouts are a drag, but there are five providers who offer 4G backup when your connection drops out. It likely won’t be as fast as your normal NBN speeds, but it can get you by until your internet is firing on all cylinders again.

The providers in question are Aussie Broadband, Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and iiNet. The speeds of their 4G backup services differ, as do the costs and conditions.

4G backup providerMax download speedMax upload speed
Aussie Broadband25Mbps5Mbps

All five backup services require the ISP’s chosen modem to work – you can’t bring your own. Aussie Broadband charges an upfront fee for its hardware, whereas the other four provide the modem at no additional cost – as long as you stick around for 24 or 36 months, depending on who you go with.

If you do leave early, Telstra will let you return your modem for free, as long as it’s in good working order. Optus, Vodafone and iiNet will all charge you for the hardware based on how many months are left in your 24 or 36-month term.

To give you a quick comparison overview, here’s how the NBN 50 plans of these providers compare in price:


Aussie Broadband

Aussie Broadband’s 4G backup is a bit of an odd duck. You won’t find anything about it on Aussie’s website or during the online sign-up process. Instead, you have to call 1300 880 905 and ask for it to be added to your plan.

On paper, the 4G backup is equal-fastest with Telstra’s, but it’s not all good news. The NL19Mesh backup modem will cost you $289 upfront, plus shipping. If you want to add one or two NS01 mesh nodes for broader WiFi coverage, the total hardware cost (including the modem) comes to $388 or $477, respectively.

On top of this, adding 4G backup might increase your monthly bill, depending on your plan. If you have NBN 100 or faster, there’s no extra cost. But for NBN 50 plans and below, it’s an additional $10 per month.

Here are Aussie’s NBN plans, all of which are eligible for 4G backup:



The Telstra Smart Modem is included free of charge and is the only backup modem you can return without incurring an additional fee. If you decide to leave within the first 24 months, you must give the modem back in good working order or pay $200.

Telstra’s 4G backup speeds are at the head of the pack, with a maximum of 25Mbps for downloads and 5Mbps for uploads. There’s no increase to your monthly bill, and it can be added to any Telstra NBN plan.



At 25Mbps down and 2Mbps up, Optus’ 4G backup isn’t too far behind the speed leaders. But if you decide to sign up, you’d better be sure of your decision. The telco has three different hardware options, depending on the plan you sign up to. Each will cost a different amount based on how many months you’re short of the initial 36-months.

The Ultra WiFi Modem Gen 1 comes with Optus’ NBN 25 Everyday plan. It’ll run you $7 per month remaining, for a maximum cost of $252 if you leave immediately after signing up.

The Ultra WiFi Modem Gen 2 comes with Optus Everday plans that are NBN 50 or faster. It costs $8.50 for each month remaining, which works out to a maximum possible payment of $306.

An Optus Plus Family Entertainer plan comes with the Ultra WiFi Modem Gen 2 and an Ultra WiFi Booster, both of which you have to pay off if you depart within the first 36 months. It adds up to $14.50 per month remaining – a total cost of $522 if you bail straight away.

There’s no additional cost added to your monthly NBN bill, however. So if you plan on sticking around for the full 36-month term, you won’t end up paying a cent extra.

Here are Optus’ NBN plans, all of which are eligible for 4G backup:



Vodafone’s 4G backup is a bit slower, but at 20Mbps down and 2Mbps up, it can still get you by in a pinch.

Its WiFi Hub 3.0 backup modem is free if you stick around for 24 months, but will cost you $7.50 for each month shy of that mark if you leave early – a maximum of $180.

Here are Vodafone’s NBN plans:


With only 12Mbps maximum downloads and 1Mbps uploads, iiNet’s 4G backup is the slowest around. 

While not ideal, 12Mbps still allows basic internet use like browsing, emails, messaging, sending small files, and using some online productivity tools – you can even watch HD videos, though perhaps with occasional buffering. Uploads of just 1Mbps are more limiting, so keep an eye out for devices in your home that might be uploading or backing up files in the background. Maxing out your uploads also tanks your downloads, so uploads this slow can create problems if you’re not vigilant.

The modem is free (plus shipping) if you stick around for 24 months. If you leave within that time, it’s $8 for each month remaining.

Here are iiNet’s NBN plans, all of which are eligible for 4G backup:


Alex Angove-Plumb is a journalist at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website

Image: Fox

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

It’s the most popular NBN speed in Australia for a reason. Here are the cheapest plans available.

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.