Frequently Asked Questions about Internet Speeds

What Is A Good Internet Speed?

You’ve probably noticed that there are a lot of different nbn™ plans available, all offering different speeds. Those speeds range from the entry-level 25/10 plans, which provide a maximum of 25Mbps download speed and 10Mbps upload, through to a massive Home Ultrafast plan that has the ability to reach speeds up to 1000Mbps download and 50Mbps upload.

The bigger the number the faster the internet connection, basically. The natural next question is always “what speed do I need for my household?” We’ll get to the details on what the right speed for your circumstances is shortly. What you do need to know upfront, however, is that you won’t ever get the exact maximum speed of your plan. Factors such as the type of connection that you have to the nbn™, the location of your house, and the time of day that you’re using the internet can all have a big impact on the actual internet speeds being delivered to your home.

How Often Should I Check My Internet Speed?

There’s no need to check your internet speeds on any specific regimen. Speed tests are there as a diagnostic tool to help you determine if you have a problem. However, if you ever feel like you’re not getting the speeds that you need, you should perform regular checks as you look at ways to improve the speeds that you’re getting.

For example, improving the internet speed might be as simple as switching off devices that you don’t currently need and/or shutting down some programs on your computer that are chewing through data online. Running speed tests before and after each shut down is a useful way to pinpoint if there was a single device that was a problem.

Likewise, you might buy a new modem/router to see if that improves the speeds you’re getting in your home. In which case, running regular speed tests at different hours can be a good way to check that your new device is delivering good speeds regularly.

What Internet Speed Should I Get In My Area?

Not all areas will be able to deliver the same internet speeds, so one thing that’s worth knowing is whether your home is capable of receiving a Home Ultrafast connection before splashing out on it. This is something that you can easily check with nbn™co itself.

If it turns out that you live in an area that can’t receive the fastest nbn™ plans, don’t fret, because it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to go without. Those kinds of massive speed plans are only for the heaviest of internet users, and most people actually invest in plans in excess of what they actually need. Even streaming video services such as Netflix, which is often the most demanding thing a household will use the internet for, needs much lower speeds than many realise.

Why High Speed Internet Is Important

We increasingly rely on our home internet as a major part of our lives. For example, many people started working and studying at home when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and to do that they needed to set up a home office and connect into work or school over the internet. Many other people have started their own businesses within their homes, and even the smallest of businesses benefit from a business-grade internet connection at home for interacting with customers around the world.

High-speed internet allows you to communicate with people over video conferencing, utilise demanding Cloud applications, share files online quickly and, on the entertainment side of things, enjoy Netflix and download large video games. For many Australian households, each person in the family will want to be using the internet at the same time, and that’s where the bigger plans come in. A Home Ultrafast plan, for example, would allow each person in the family to be streaming high-quality content simultaneously without a noticeable drop in quality. On slower plans, you might need to consider rationing or scheduling when everyone uses the more demanding internet applications or services.

How To Speed Up Your Internet

If you’re not happy with the internet speeds that you’re getting, there are a couple of things that you can try to improve the speeds:

  1. Troubleshoot around the home: From viruses and malware through to a weak and poor WiFi signal, there are many ways that an internet connection might be slowed within the house. Running through a troubleshooting list might help you to identify and address where the slowdown is occurring.
  2. Invest in a second internet connection for backup. A 4G mobile hotspot becomes a Godsend if your nbn™ connection is running slow. While data can come at a premium with 4G, using it for low-intensity activities like email and web browsing can free up the nbn™ connection for the person that needs to make a video call or wants to watch some Netflix.
  3. Invest in a different form of nbn™: Depending on where you are, you may be able to transfer from one form of nbn™ connection to another. This option isn’t available for everyone (and for some, it would incur a significant cost), but understanding the different speeds offered by nbn™ services might be the fastest way to upgrade the speeds you can access.

Can A New Modem Increase Internet Speed?

The long and short of it is that a new modem may help boost your nbn™ speeds, and there are a couple of reasons for this.

Firstly, there are different “standards” that modem/routers come in, and it will be represented on the device as a number – 802.11 – with a letter after it. The combination you want is 802.11ac, with the “ac” representing the most recent standard, allowing it to make use of the 5GHz band.

Secondly, some modem/routers are designed to allow more devices to connect at the same time. If you’re experiencing slowdowns or dropouts, and have a lot of devices in the house, it’s possible that the modem/router simply can’t handle them all, and an upgrade may fix that problem.

Finally, the signal strength that a modem/router broadcasts might be too weak. If you’re finding that the internet speeds are slow when you’re too far away,you might be able to fix that simply by investing in a “mesh” network or signal boosting device to cover the “black spots” in your home.

How Is Internet Speed Controlled?

If nbn™ speeds can be varied, this must mean that the ISP is controlling the speeds that customers can access, correct? Yes, it is the ISP that manages bandwidth and speeds for all of its customers.

This is most obvious when a customer experiences “throttling,” which is the deliberate slowing down of the available bandwidth for a consumer. ISPs might do this to ease congestion across the network (resulting in slower speeds for everyone) during peak periods, with the alternative being that some customers miss out on the internet entirely for a period of time, experience dropouts, or the entire network grinds to a halt.

You will generally be able to tell if the internet in your area is being throttled because the slowdowns will occur regularly at set times each day (again, usually during peak hours). You can use the speed test tool to find the extent of the throttling and then discuss with your ISP if you consider it to be excessive.

Does A Router Help Internet Speed?

You may wonder if your router (separate to a modem, but people generally buy modem/routers as two-in-one devices for home use) can help with their internet speeds. The simple answer is: yes.

The router is the delivery mechanism of the internet into your home, so if you’re experiencing a slowdown, when it was previously fast, then troubleshooting your router should be priority #1. There are a range of different troubleshooting tricks for routers to try and massage them back into full functionality, so don’t immediately assume that you’ll need to go shopping for a new one.

If you are in the market for a new one though, make sure you understand what you need from the router for your household. There are a lot of devices on the market and they can vary significantly in what they offer.

If you’ve determined that the router is not the issue for your slow internet speeds, the next step is to contact your ISP to see if it might be an issue on their end.

Can A VPN Increase My Internet Speed?

This is a little more technical, but a VPN can, in some circumstances, increase your internet speeds. VPNs can bypass some instances of throttling, for example, by diverting your internet connection to a different server. It won’t always work, but it’s worth investigating (and VPNs offer privacy and security benefits that make them worthwhile anyway).

Of course, you need to find a good VPN, because VPNs can also quite easily result in a slower internet connection, too. There are a lot of VPNs, so it pays to do your research ahead of time.

How To Get 1Gbps Internet

If you are an internet power user and need gigabit internet (that’s 1000Mbps), then the first thing you need to do is check that your area is able to receive speeds that fast. Then you need to make sure you have the right technology and home set up for it.

If you can run gigabit internet, then the next thing to do is find the right gigabit internet plan. Unlike the more typical nbn™ plans (e.g. nbn™25/10, nbn™50/20 and nbn™100/20), there aren’t as many ISPs that offer the gigabit plan. hen you’re running internet that fast, you want to be sure that the speeds will be reasonably reliable and that you’re not restricted by the amount of data that you can use.