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How do I choose the fastest nbn™ plan?

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One of the most convenient things about the nbn™ is that it neatly arranges the speeds that are available to consumers into four distinct categories. ISPs can only offer services from those seven ranges, so it becomes possible to tell, at a glance, what the maximum speed is for that particular nbn™ plan.

Those seven plans are:

  1. 12Mbps download/ 1Mbps upload
  2. 25Mbps download/ 5Mbps upload
  3. 50Mbps download/ 20Mbps upload
  4. 100Mbps download/ 20Mbps upload
  5. 100Mbps download/ 40Mbps upload
  6. 250Mbps download/ 25Mbps upload
  7. Home Ultrafast (best-effort 1000Mbps download and 50Mbps upload)

Why you won’t get those maximum nbn™ speeds

There is a catch, however – the quoted maximum speed won’t be the speed your internet runs at, and there are a few reasons for that.

One is to do with technology. For most people, the nbn™ runs on a Fibre to theNode infrastructure system.

What this means is that there are fibre cables that deliver the internet signal to nodes, spaced out within populated areas. From these nodes, the signal then travels the remaining distance to your home via copper wires. These copper wires used to connect your home phone system.

The longer the copper wire is, the slower your connection will be. According to nbn™ Co, 90 per cent of premises are within 700m of a node, but anything more than 500m from a node will cause a considerable drop in speed.

Unfortunately there’s not all that much that you can do about this. Swapping ISPs will not change the loss of broadband speed as a result of being distant from the node. It is possible to contact nbn™ Co to have Fibre to thePremises (FTTP) installed, but that is incredibly expensive – into the thousands of dollars.

Why choosing an ISP matters for nbn™TM speed

Despite ISPs being unable to assist with internet speed degrading over copper, it’s nonetheless important to carefully select an ISP.
Every provider has to list what’s known as a “typical evening speed” for their nbn™ plans. “Evening speed” refers to peak hour traffic (usually between 7pm and 11pm), when people are at home, logging on to their game consoles to play, or flicking on the TV for some Netflix. During those periods, internet traffic can become congested, slowing it down for everyone in that area. During those periods, your choice of ISP is critical.

nbn™ Co has a set amount of bandwidth included with all it’s wholesale nbn™ plans. An ISP can choose to purchase more if it wishes to ensure their customers have a better experience during those peak times. If you choose an ISP that doesn’t purchase that additional bandwidth, you can expect slower speeds when everyone jumps online to enjoy their evening.

Another thing to consider is the point of interconnect, or POI. The POI is what connects all the fibre connections across the country to the ISP suppliers, and there are 121 of them. Most ISPs do not have their own connections to all 121 POIs, and while they may offer nbn™TM services across the country, they do so by making a commercial arrangement with another ISP for the ones they don’t have direct control over. What this means is that if there are congestion issues, the ISP is powerless to do anything about it.

Other companies, such as Aussie Broadband, have made significant investments in order to have direct connections at each of the 121 POIs. This helps Aussie Broadband deliver awesome internet that provides the fastest speeds possible at any given time of day. Plus, they purchase the additional bandwidth we mentioned above so your speed doesn’t take a hit during the evening.

Finding the right ISP to deliver fast internet

There are many different websites out there that compare ISPs and plans to help you decide on the right one for your needs. You can also look at the customer satisfaction scores for ISPs on sites such as ProductReview. Canstar Blue also ranks nbn™ providers, and they’ve awarded Aussie Broadband the Most Satisfied Customers Award for nbn™ Providers in 2020 and 2019.

So remember, the ISP you use, as well as the location where you’re living, and how your home connects to the nbn™ can significantly affect the speeds you receive. If speed is important to you, it’s a good idea to do your due diligence and research before selecting the plan you want.

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