What to look for in an nbn™ plan?
Once the nbn™ has been made available in your area, you’re going to want to sign up to a plan that gives your home the kind of internet connection you need based on the way you intend to use the internet at your home.
There are many options for nbn™ plans, so be sure to do some research into what plan is right for you before you sign up.
What speed is right for you?
The first consideration when signing up to the nbn™ is what speeds you’ll need. With most providers, the nbn™ can be delivered at four different speed settings, which are:
- 12mbps download/ 1mbps upload.
- 25mbps download/ 5mbps upload.
- 50mbps download/ 20mbps upload.
- 100mbps download/ 40mbps upload.
Note that this is the maximum speed the respective plans offer. You’ll likely receive lower speeds in your household, especially during peak periods in the evening when more people across Australia are connected to the internet. This is especially true for some ISPs that might offer a service that looks cheap, but is only cheap because the provider doesn’t buy enough bandwidth from nbn™. If you sign up to a reputable ISP’s service, such as Aussie Broadband, you can be sure your speeds will be as close to the maximum as possible, even during peak periods.
It goes without saying that the faster the download and upload speeds, the more you can do with the nbn™. A 25mbps download speed is enough to stream video for one person, or have a couple of people using the internet in the household at the same time. A 100mbps download, meanwhile, is for people that want to enjoy 4K resolution streams, download large files quickly (like video games), and have a home office setup.
How much data should I get?
After working out the right speeds for your household, the next step in purchasing an nbn™ plan is to understand how much data you’ll likely use. Many nbn™ plans have a maximum data allowance, and going over the limit can start to add to your monthly bill, so it’s important to purchase a plan that, ideally, will give you enough data upfront.
The biggest users of data are video streaming services, video games, and music. If you calculate at a rate of 300MB/hour for low definition video (many YouTube videos), 1GB of data per hour for standard definition video (as advised by Netflix), and 3GB/hour for HD video (the resolution Netflix wants you to use), and then calculate how much TV you want to watch, you’ll have a good baseline for the kind of plan that you’ll want.
Additionally, assume about 150MB/hour for social media, email, and Web browsing, about double that for heavy use of the internet in a home office setting, and assume that the typical video game download will be between 5GB and 50GB.
So, if you use about 10 hours of Netflix per week, browse the internet for two hours per day, and download one big game in the month, you’d use approximately 67GB of data in that month.
What should it cost?
Figuring out the ideal speed of the nbn™ connection, and then the data allowance, is of critical important because it’s largely what determines how expensive a nbn™ plan is. ISPs will offer nbn™ plans on a monthly basis – some require a 12 or 24-month contract, while others might not. Some have a setup and installation fee, while others might waive that. The bulk of the cost, however, will be in the month-to-month fee for the connection.
Prices can vary wildly. An entry-level 12mbps download/ 1mbps upload connection with a minimal data allowance will cost half (if not even less) that of a 100mbps download connection with plenty of data. Chances are you’ll need less data when you’re on slower connections, as people who invest in fast nbn™ plans tend to be the ones expecting to spend a lot of time using the internet for rich media applications.
If you’re planning on being a really heavy user of the internet, then you might want to consider an unlimited nbn™ plan. These plans are the most expensive, but allow you to use as much data as you like without worrying about ever hitting a data limit. It’s important to not get caught in the trap where you assume you need unlimited data, however. Most people – including those who are spending the premium for an unlimited connection – don’t actually use anywhere near as much data as they assume, and many of those on unlimited plans could save themselves some money by simply being on a high data plan instead.
How do I sign up?
As long as the nbn™ is available in your area, signing up is just a phone call away. The nbn™ isn’t currently available across all of Australia, though the rollout is happening rapidly. You can check on availability in your area here.