How Internet Speed Works

There are few things more annoying than slow internet, especially when you’re trying to stream your favourite show, download an important file – or be the last man standing on Fortnite.
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Internet speed can affect so many aspects of our life, including how we work, and how we communicate with our family and friends.

That’s why it can be important you understand how internet speed works, so you can make an informed decision about your service should you look to switch providers. In this article from iSelect, you’ll learn about some factors which can affect your internet speed, along with the NBN speed tiers.

Factors affecting your internet speed

There are a number of different factors affecting your internet speed, some of which you can make adjustments to in order to help improve your service. The majority, however, are not in your control – and some are not even in the control of your provider1.

Technology type:

The main factor that impacts your internet speed is your technology type. If you’re on ADSL compared to Cable, for example, the speed your service can achieve is different. The same can be said for different types of NBN. Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) has a higher speed profile in comparison to Fibre to the Node (FTTN)1.


Not only does this determine your technology type (such as whether you’re in an ADSL area, or an area with an NBN HFC footprint, it also determines the quality of your network. For example, some NBN FTTN areas require more copper cabling than others. The length of cable from the cabinet can reduce your internet speed, as the signal degrades the further it has to travel on copper2.


The type of modem you’re using to access the internet can make a big impact to your speeds. If the Wi-Fi frequency is old or weak, your connectivity can suffer. The same can be said if the Ethernet ports have a low transfer rate. But it’s not just your modem; even if you’re getting 100mbps ‘line’ speed to your modem, your download speed may still be significantly slower because you’re connecting your 10-year old PC to the network3. Your Wi-Fi will only work as quickly as the slowest device it’s connected to.


Just like when you’re driving, the fewer cars on the road, the less time it takes to reach your destination. Your internet works the same way. If a lot of users are trying to access your network, your speeds will decrease1. These other users can be in your home, or even in your neighbourhood. It ultimately depends upon the amount of users, the technology type you’re connected to, and the amount of bandwidth your provider can deliver.


If your broadband connection has a data limit, you may find that your speed decreases once this limit has been reached. This problem is becoming less common as more internet providers offer unlimited data amounts on their plans.

internet speed australia

Choosing a suitable internet speed as part of your NBN package

If the NBN is available at your property, most providers offer a range of speed tiers depending on the technology available. Guidance has been provided by the ACCC which is designed to help consumers and businesses understand information relating to NBN fixed line speeds1.

Basic Evening Speed:

The entry level plan is suitable for basic internet needs. If you are moving to the NBN on a plan with this label you may experience a small increase or decrease in speed, depending on the performance of your existing connection.

Standard Evening Speed:

This plan is usually suitable for residential consumers who stream one high-definition movie while streaming music on another device during peak times.

Standard Plus Evening Speed:

This plan will usually allow you to stream an ultra high-definition movie and stream music on one or more devices at the same time during peak times.

Premium Evening Speed:

This is the top tier currently available on the NBN. It is usually suitable for residential and looking to stream an ultra high-definition movie at the same time as gaming on other devices during peak times.

What if your NBN isn’t fast enough?

If your NBN connection isn’t fast enough for your internet requirements, you may have options to purchase a higher speed tier.

If you’re paying for a higher speed tier and you’re not accessing the expected speeds it’s recommended you speak with your provider to attempt a resolution.

Get connected with iSelect today

Still not satisfied with your plan? Why not compare different options with iSelect? We have a range of partners and plans available offering internet plans that may suit your requirements.

Get started by comparing internet plans online, or if you prefer, give us a call on 13 19 20. Our friendly team will be more than happy to help.