How to Choose the Right NBN Speed for your Household

February 3rd, 2017 - Get new posts sent straight to your inbox, click here. John R

The National Broadband Network (NBN) provides faster than ever broadband speeds for businesses and households around Australia, and you might be one of many Australians thinking about signing up to the NBN as it continues its rollout throughout Australia. The NBN offers much faster speeds and capacity than even ADSL, but what are the speeds available and which one is right for you?

NBN speed tiers

The NBN is being offered in five speed tiers by nbn™, and these tiers are ranked by both speed and capacity. It’s important to note that speed and capacity can affect your user experience in various ways. Speed is concerned with how fast you can upload or download data, while capacity is related to how many users can comfortably use the network to conduct data-intensive activities such as HD video streaming or gaming.

There are major differences between each speed tier, so you’ll want to consider your usage and measure it against the speeds and capacity being offered. Remember, you might need to upgrade your hardware to take full advantage of the faster speeds.

Speed tier 1

Tier 1 has been designated as being suitable for everyday residential use. The maximum speed is 12Mbps for downloads and 1Mbps for uploads. This plan level is best for households that have just one device connected most of the time, and use the internet to do basic tasks such as light browsing, checking emails and social media. The speeds you’ll have on Tier 1 connections are comparable to current ADSL2+ standards, and the pricing should be similar to what low-cost broadband services currently offer.

Speed tier 2

Tier 2 is recommended for moderate to heavy household use, with speeds of up to 25Mbps (slightly faster than ADSL2+). This speed tier is suitable for video streaming, larger downloads and other heavy usage. Speed tier 2 is also recommended if you have more than one device connected at the same time.

Speed tier 3

nbn™ offers Tier 3 as the recommended tier for small businesses, with 25Mbps download speeds but a ceiling speed of 10Mbps for uploads, which is double that of tier 2. The faster upload rate supports businesses that might be transferring large files and engaging in cloud-based collaborative work. However, larger businesses with multiple users might need to opt for a faster tier plan.

Speed tier 4

Tier 4 is suitable for heavy home use, with a super-fast 50Mbps that will make streaming movies, gaming, and other heavy duty activities instantaneous and delay-free. Pricing for Tier 4 and Tier 5 plans will probably be similar, but Tier 4 plans are likely to have more data. This plan level is probably sufficient for most households, even if you have multiple users streaming video and other data-heavy content at the same time.

Speed tier 5

Tier 5 offers upload speeds of 40Mbps and download speeds of up to 100Mbps. At these speeds, HD movies can be downloaded in minutes and gaming is virtually guaranteed to be delay-free. Given the high speed and capacity, small business will find these plans suitable and more than adequate for data backups and cloud collaboration for multiple users.

Other factors to consider

Once you’ve decided on a plan, you should find a reliable internet service provider (ISP). Note that network speeds are theoretical maximum speeds, so a host of other factors can affect your specific connection. These include hardware used by your ISP, your own hardware and your Wi-Fi connection.

Retailers or ISPs

The NBN is a wholesaler, so households and workplaces won’t be accessing it through the NBN itself but through retailers. Once you’re ready to sign up for it, check that it’s available at your address and sign up with your retailer or service provider just as you would with any type of internet connection.

Tools to help choose a provider

When choosing an ISP, there are several tools to determine whether or not your ISP is a quality one. Use the Google Video Quality Report to access data on the average YouTube video performance over a 24-hour period. This tool enables you to see how consistent and quick your ISP’s speeds are.

Costs and bundles

As you’re reviewing plans, it’s a good idea to balance large setup costs against monthly contract costs. If you know you’ll be making use of optional extras such as VoIP services, keep an eye out for special offers. Some providers will offer great deals with free extras.

If the NBN’s available in your area, now is a great time to get to know what’s being offered in terms of speed and capacity so you can make the right choice. Start by working out what your household or place of work might need in terms of data. Understanding the five tiers of service being offered by retailers is important, but checking your ISP for service quality will also enable you to find a good deal.

About the author

John R

John Reisinger

John Reisinger is known as one of the fastest coders in the business. He’s the one at Aussie Broadband dreaming up and developing new products for our customers. Sometimes, you can find him performing with his theatre group at the Melbourne Comedy Festival.