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Monday 29 Jan 2024 | 7 min read

Which is the best nbn® plan for me?

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There are more choices in nbn® plans than ever before but picking one that suits you can be daunting.

Don’t fret though. Just like that part in Goldilocks and the Three Bears when Goldilocks tests internet plans (or maybe it was porridge), there’s something just right for everyone!

Your ideal plan depends on a few factors, and we’re going to run through them to help you get an idea of what you need.

Understanding bandwidth and speed

First, we need to know what bandwidth and speed are.

Bandwidth is the maximum rate of data transfer your internet plan has assigned to it, and it’s shown in ‘Mbps’ (megabits per second). When looking at an internet plan, the numbers – like 100Mbps/40Mbps – refer to the amount of download and upload bandwidth on that plan.

Speed is the measure of how fast the rate of data transfer is (also in Mbps), whereas bandwidth is the limit of how much data can be transferred. Think of it as bandwidth being a road (how much traffic it can carry) and speed being how fast you can go down it.

Let’s say you’re on a 25 Mbps plan – think of this like a suburban street. If you’re the only one driving on the street, going the speed you want is easy.

When you add a few more cars and maybe a big semi-trailer (other household members or devices using the internet), your 25 Mbps street is now congested. But, if all of this was a multi-lane freeway (higher-bandwidth plan), traffic can flow easier and cars can move faster.

Each household device that’s connected to the internet uses a piece of bandwidth when active. The size of that piece depends on the speed needed for the device to perform its activity.

Here are some common activities, and a rough guide on the minimum speed they need:

Type of activityMinimum speed needed
General browsing and email1 Mbps
Downloading files10 Mbps
Social media1 Mbps
Streaming Ultra HD (4K) video25 Mbps
Streaming HD video5 Mbps
HD video teleconferencing6 Mbps
HD personal video call1.5 Mbps
Gaming (online multiplayer)4 Mbps

Source: Federal Communications Commission

How many devices and people do you have?

According to NBN, the average Aussie household has a whopping 21 devices connected to it! That might be higher than you expected, but with the rise of the ‘smart home’, all kinds of devices are connected to the internet. This includes TVs, solar panels, baby monitors, and even washing machines!

A graphic of the cross section of a 2-story house, with 8 rooms showing 21 different devices (that are labelled) with people in them. The text in the top left corner says

Image source: NBN Co

Smart devices that don’t constantly download or upload data – think security cameras, microwaves, or solar panels – aren’t normally bandwidth intensive. Problems occur when other devices demand bandwidth that, when accumulated, exceeds your plan’s total.

The number of people in your house also plays a huge part, as more people usually means more devices – increasing the chance of overloading your bandwidth.

Hot tip: If you are finding that your internet is only sometimes overloaded, you can prioritise certain applications. Most modern routers have a feature commonly known as Quality of Service (QoS). This means when the activities being run by devices are fighting over bandwidth, you can prioritise which get the speeds they need – no more PlayStation slowing down your work calls! Check your router’s manual for more info.

What are your internet habits?

How and when your house uses the internet is key to finding your ideal plan. Retail service providers (RSPs) see the most internet traffic from 7-11pm, when everyone is typically at home. This is a good time to check the total bandwidth being used.

One way to do this is by logging into your router’s online dashboard or mobile app (this might be specific to your router, so try Googling how to do this with your router’s brand and model). Once in, there should be a tab named ‘Clients’ or similar, which lists all connected devices and their usage rate.

Can’t login to your router? Don’t worry, some good old-fashioned pen and paper will do the trick! Tally up all the devices being actively used, including smart devices. Make sure to note what activities are being done on each device.  

Using the table above, add up the activities by their corresponding speeds to get a rough total of the bandwidth you’ll need to cope with peak usage.

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Internet habits also extend to your professional life. Working from home could mean you need to have smooth video calls and quick file downloads. If this applies to you, it could be something to factor in when choosing a plan

What speeds can you get?

Difference in technology means not all households can access high-speed plans. Many still use the original copper telephone cabling to connect to external infrastructure, which isn’t as good as newer fibre optic cabling. You can see what connection type and plans are at your house here, or learn each type’s capabilities in this blog.

The good news? NBN is rolling out their Fibre Connect program to more areas across the country, so high-speed internet isn’t too far away! As for those who rely on Fixed Wireless, you’re also getting an upgrade. By the end of 2024, over 750,000 homes and businesses will be able to access triple-figure speeds thanks to new 4G and 5G technology. 

Access ultra-fast NBN plans with a $0 Fibre Upgrade!

Check if your address is eligible, and future-proof your connection.*

Find out more

But even if you don’t have access to fibre, try some of these tips in your home to optimise your Wi-Fi setup – this is crucial for making the most of whatever plan you’re on.

*Additional external costs may apply. Currently only available for eligible customers with a FTTN or FTTC connection. Customers must sign up to an eligible high-speed plan when upgrading. This plan change will only take effect once the FTTP connection is activated. Offer subject to service qualification for nbn® FTTP upgrade. Full fibre upgrade T&Cs apply. Not available at all premises. Current FTTN eligible nbn® plans are from 100/20 or higher. Current FTTC eligible nbn® plans are 250/25 plan or higher. All prices subject to change without notice. Actual speeds may vary due to external factors including in-building wiring.

What plan is for you?

Now we've covered all bases, it’s time to pick an internet plan! RSPs usually have guidelines under each of their NBN plans of what each speed tier is capable of. This is handy as you can match these up to your personal requirements.

Do you have household members that work from home, create content, or binge streaming services? Your ideal internet plan might be a higher bandwidth option so you can get more of what you need done.

Have a small household who only use a couple of devices at a time? Maybe you’re out and about most of the day? A starter plan with lower bandwidth could be more than enough for you.

A final important note is that switching internet plans is a very easy process nowadays. Trialling different options is now possible, so have a play around to see what works for your house!

If your internet plan isn’t suiting you and you’re an Aussie customer, we’re here to help. Our team are available on 1300 880 905 for you to chat to, or you can speak to our Live Chat on our website.

Actual speeds on FTTN/B/C & Fixed Wireless technology type confirmed upon connection. Super-Fast & Ultra-Fast only available for FTTP and select HFC connection types. Typical evening speeds (7pm – 11pm) based on ACCC MBA results from December 2023. T&Cs apply.

Tags:NBNInternetInternet Speed

Written by

Benjamin Millard

Benjamin Millard

Communications Officer

Benjamin (or Ben) is a Communications Officer at Aussie Broadband. Responsible for the operation of Aussie’s organic social media, Ben also produces editorial blog content, as well as helping with community management. In his spare time, he...

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