Internet – Forbes Advisor Australia

Make no mistake. When it comes to home internet, it absolutely pays to shop around. And we all have to do it right now, with the rising cost of living and stagnant wages highlighting the importance of saving on monthly expenses such as the monthly internet bill. 

After all, your internet bill is likely to set you back between $50 and $80 per month, depending on your plan, so it’s worth shopping around. 

There are a range of internet companies out there to choose from in Australia, including Belong, Dodo, Tangerine, Origin, TPG, Superloop, exetel, Aussie Broadband and iiNet—to name just a few.

What is the NBN?

Recognised as Australia’s largest ever infrastructure project, the National Broadband Network (NBN) was announced in 2009 by the government. The policy aimed to ensure everyone, no matter where they live, had access to high speed broadband. 

The original plan set out to reach 93% of households with an optic fibre connection, with the other 7% to be served by a satellite or fixed wireless service. NBN Co says the rollout was completed in December 2020, with customers having to move services to the new network within 18 months of that date at the latest. 

Customers that didn’t arrange to switch to the NBN within that period were disconnected from their existing internet and phone services. The process of switching meant that a technician had to come to your property to connect your home service to the NBN, with lengthy waits experienced in many parts of the country. 

NBN superseded ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line), which was terminated in areas already covered by fiber networks on 1 September 2020. ADSL was phased out because NBN is a faster service designed to be made available to all Australians. 

Types of NBN access 

There are a number of ways that customers may be connected to the NBN:

Fibre to the premises (FTTP): This is considered the best connection available as it’s one of the fastest options on the market. It’s also the least common option after the government backed out of a mass rollout, midway, due to cost. 

Fibre to the Node (FTTB): This connection requires a line of fibre running to a central location, often the end of your street. From the node, your home connection runs along the traditional copper telephone line. This means it’s not quite as speedy, but has enabled the NBN to be rolled out faster to all Australians. 

Fibre to the Curb (FTTC): This connection refers to a distribution point right to your driveway, which could offered a speedier connection than the above option. The reason it could be faster is that the optic cable is run to a street pit as close as possible to your house, meaning it’s only metres away from your front door. 

Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial (HFC): This is similar technology used to provide cable television services, using insulated wires that help minimise interference. 

Fixed Wireless: This option is more common in regional parts of the country, where laying down fibre is too costly. It means that NBNCo runs wires to a transmission tower, which then broadcasts connection to your house via an antenna on the roof. 

Satellite: This connection means that NBNCo broadcasts a signal to a satellite dish, which is then relayed to your home. This connection can mean the end customer has limited data and slower speed, though most companies offer additional data packages for a monthly fee.

You might be weighing up your best option from the list above, but bear in mind that you don’t really get a choice which NBN connection you get. Each home is offered one connection type, and upgrades will be far too exorbitant for most households. 

How Fast is the NBN Internet?

The speed of the NBN will vary, depending on where you live. Of course, the metropolitan areas like inner Sydney and Melbourne have faster internet services, while rural and regional areas have to get by with slower internet for now, at least. 

The government plan has always been equal access to fast internet, but the fact is that the dream is proving expensive to implement. 

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), your internet provider needs to be upfront about the broadband speed they can provide in your area. 

If this information isn’t readily available, you can request it from an internet provider, which must comply with the Australian Consumer Law and provide this information to you. 

Internet speed is usually measured during the highest internet use period of the day, which is accepted as the evening period (7pm-11pm). This is when cable television services are usually being used, groceries are being ordered online and school homework is being completed with the help of an internet search engine.

Internet speed data can help homeowners to understand how your service should perform on a day-to-day basis, meaning you can more easily compare providers based on the service they can provide. The information will be provided as a standard evening speed of 15 Mbps, for example. 

The plan you purchase should include information around the potential peak speed (such as 12Mbps, 50 Mbps or 100 Bbps). This speed gives you an idea of how reliable the connection will be across all technology using the NBN in your home.

Can you Speed It Up? 

You can get faster internet, but you might be limited by your budget. 

Your first step is to make sure your connection isn’t blocked by big items, such as furniture. Limiting obstructions around the modem can improve performance. 

Next, check if your current speed is capped, and then consider upgrading your internet plan. Other options include a WiFi extender, which could improve your connection and internet speed. 

You may also be able to upgrade your connection to the faster Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) option, which is widely considered the fastest option of all. So, an upgrade could provide you with a boost. These upgrades are well underway and should be completed by the end of 2023. 

If you can’t wait that long because your internet speed is laggy, consider the Technology Choice Program, which enables you to upgrade your technology infrastructure at your home for a fee. 

Also, look out for Wi-Fi 6, which is just hitting the market. It accommodates more devices at greater speeds. 

Lastly, if the speed is slower than it used to be, call your provider as there could be a fault with your modem, or the connection that needs fixing or upgrading. 

What are some of the Main NBN Providers?

Aussie Broadband : This company has won awards for being the most trusted telco, and has an 100 per cent Australian support team. 

Kogan: Kogan 4G Unlimited Home internet is a wireless internet solution powered by Kogan Mobile, which has a range of offers, including unlimited data.  

Exetel: This Australian ISP provides ADSL, web hosting and other internet services. 

Telstra: The Australian mobile company offers internet and phone services bundled together, which may be worth considering.  

iiNet: This company has been around a long time, and offers a range of plans, and its own broadband cable. 

TPG: Offering both mobile and broadband, TPG offers a range of plans and call pack options.  

iPrimus: This company has been around for 25 years, offering a range of plans. 

How to Find the Best Internet Deal

There’s no one size fits all when it comes to internet deals. What is available to your household will depend entirely on where you live and what’s on offer in your neighbourhood. Here’s what to consider when shopping around: 

Decide how you will use it

Consider how many people will regularly access the internet in your home, how you use it (such as whether you have streaming services), whether you run a business or work from home, and whether your kids need the internet to do their homework. 

Choose the Fastest Speed you can Afford

Broadband speeds offered by each company will vary, so shop around on the deals available in your area, making sure to check the speed at the busiest time of the day as mentioned above (7pm-11pm). Internet providers must provide this information. 

Can you Bundle it with your Streaming Service?

Some internet providers will throw in access to a streaming service (i.e. Such as a Fetch TV, which is the all-in-one box that makes any TV smarter). Count up how many services you will be able to access for the monthly fee to decide if the value will work for your usual needs. 

Is there a lock-in contract?

This is a big one. Some internet providers want to lock you into a contract, others prefer to give you more freedom and flexibility. If so, consider if you’re happy with the lock-in contract? What are the terms and conditions? Make sure you read the fine print to understand. Also, there are many ‘no lock-in contracts’ available, so consider what works best for you. 

Are there any Special Sign-up Discounts or Joining Incentives? 

Competition is fierce among the growing list of internet providers, and there’s plenty of Australians switching around in search of the best deal. Make sure you shop around from time to time to see if there are better deals out there. 

Is there Unlimited Internet?

Again, it depends on where you live and what’s on offer by the companies that service your area. If you can get a deal that offers unlimited data, it’s worth considering given how much internet data we all consume these days in our hybrid working world. 

Find out how much unlimited data costs for starters. And remember, your internet bill could be a tax deduction if you’re running a business from home. Your employer may agree to pay some of your monthly bill, so consider asking the question. Or, you could claim your internet connection on your tax as long as you have records to support the claim. 

Alternatives to the NBN

There are alternatives to the NBN, but if you’re considering wireless internet, you need to accept that you won’t get a choice in speeds. These connection types will automatically use the fastest mobile network available in your area. 

Home wireless internet

Home wireless can provide good value alternatives if you can access a premium Wi-Fi modem, such as the new Wi-Fi 6 mentioned above. This approach is designed to connect your home in a few steps, without the need for an appointment with a technician to come to your home.  

Mobile broadband

Quite simple, mobile broadband is an internet connection delivered via your mobile network. Essentially, it uses a reception tower to access the internet. If you use your mobile phone to hotspot, it’s the same thing. 

This is great during an outage, which still occurs from time to time, depending on where you live. Essentially, it’s a great Plan B. 

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