NBN Plans Explained: Everything you need to know about finding a plan

In this article from iSelect, you’ll learn more about what the NBN is, as well as the different speed tiers available.
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NBNco provided an update in August 2018, confirming their goal to have 11.7 homes ready to connect to the NBN by 20201. But, unlike ADSL, it’s not as simple as finding a provider you like, waiting a minimum of 4 business days, and hoping the speed at your address can keep up with your demand.

There’s more to consider now, especially given the different NBN speed tiers available, and our “multi-device” internet culture – which marks a significant shift in our internet usage over the last decade. In this article from iSelect, you’ll learn more about what the NBN is, as well as the different speed tiers available. Keep reading to find out more.

What is the NBN?

The National Broadband Network (NBN) is the country’s biggest ever infrastructure project to date. It aims to replace existing outdated fixed line broadband networks with a multi-technology mix (MTM) to help futureproof internet access in Australia.

The different NBN speed tiers currently available

Depending on the NBN technology available, there in a range of different speed tiers. These tiers are designed to meet different needs of internet users, from general browsing, to streaming, to gaming. To ensure clarity regarding these tiers, the ACCC has set guidelines on how internet service providers (ISPs) should advertise the NBN speed tiers2.

These guidelines are designed to provide clarity about how services will typically operate during peak times (between 7pm-11pm).

Take a look at the table below for more information:

NBN speed tier Suited for Typical peak time speeds
Basic evening speed This is the entry level plan for basic internet needs. Less than 15mbps
Standard evening speed People living in residential areas streaming one high-definition movie at a time while browsing the web. 15mbps
Standard plus evening speed People who have higher usage, such as streaming movies or music on multiple devices. 30mbps
Premium evening speed Households streaming ultra-high definition movies and using online gaming. 60mbps

If a provider doesn’t use these labels, the ACCC recommends you ask how their services will operate in peak times to determine which plan will suit your needs.

All plans will have a maximum theoretical off-peak speed which limits how fast your plan can go at any time of the day.

What is peak time and why does it matter?

Peak time is a specific period where a lot of people are expected to use the internet at the same time. It’s best described in a similar fashion to driving. If you’re driving your car in the middle of the day or night, more often than not, it’s a quick commute. The roads are clear, which means you’re more likely to cruise through intersections instead of stopping for traffic lights.

On the other hand, if you’re driving first thing in the morning or in the early evening when everyone finishes work, that same commute is going to take considerably longer. You could take the same route and find yourself catching every set of traffic lights and waiting behind rows of other cars. You may even try an alternative path, but still find it taking longer than expected.

The same can be said for your broadband connection. If you’re downloading or streaming services during peak times, your internet connection is likely to be slower than it would if you were doing it in the middle of the day when no one was home.

Peak times for internet in Australia are between 7pm and 11pm2.

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How technology types affect your NBN plan

As mentioned above, the NBN is a multi-technology mix (MTM). This means there are a variety of different technology types delivering the network across Australia. These technologies are3:

Fixed line connections:

Wireless connections:

  • Fixed wireless
  • Satellite

Because fixed line connections utilise a variety of different technology types, there can be limitations with the availability of certain speed tiers, such as with FTTN. Your provider should be able to let you know this as soon as this information becomes available.

As for wireless connections, these services are set up differently and have different speed expectations. It’s recommended that you speak with your ISP about what’s possible if you have this type of NBN connection.

Five tips for moving to the NBN

The ACCC has some handy tips that may help you when preparing to switch from you either switch to the NBN for the first time, or switch from your current NBN plan to an NBN plan with another provider4.

  • Keep informed: It’s important to know when the NBN is coming to your area. According to the ACCC, NBNCo will notify you when your area is ready for NBN
  • Be prepared: Once the NBN is in your area, you won’t be automatically moved onto an NBN plan, and may face being disconnected if you fail to arrange an NBN plan before the cutoff date. For this reason it’s a good idea to have a plan and provider in mind before making the switch
  • Ask questions: The ACCC recommends learning about fees, equipment, back-up batteries, and any special services that may affect your ability to switch to the NBN
  • Call for help: If you’re having any issues with your provider that you can’t solve, the ACCC recommends contacting the Telecommunications Ombudsmen
  • Compare plans: The ACCC recommends comparing NBN plans and providers to ensure you find a plan which suits you. At iSelect, we can help you with that.

Find an NBN plan that’s suitable for you with iSelect

If NBN is now available at your address, it’s time to start searching for a new plan. iSelect compare a range of NBN plans from our partners and plans*.

You can take a look at some options on our website, or if you prefer, you can give us a call on 13 19 20. Our friendly team will be more than happy to help.