How to interpret NBN Plan information and compare NBN plans?

October 18th, 2021
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We can help you decipher the information about NBN broadband internet plans

Different broadband internet providers display their NBN plan information in different formats which can be confusing for new customers.

We have displayed screenshots of two NBN plans below and have explained what each piece of information really means.

How to read a NBN broadband plan
  1. Name of Plan – some providers tend to use the standard NBN name such at NBN 12 or NBN Home Standard while others use their own naming system such as Gold, Silver, Bronze. You may want to write down the plan names you are interested in before you phone the company so you are speaking their language.
  2. Monthly cost is how much you will have to pay for this internet plan each month. Broadband companies often offer a discounted introductory rate for the first 6 months or so to entice new customers. Be careful of these introductory rates as you will most likely be with this company for multiple years so it is important that the real monthly rate is considered before signing up to a plan. Our internet plan finder tool calculates the average monthly rate over a 2 year period which makes it easy to compare the real cost of broadband plans. Check it out here.
  3. Minimum total cost is how much you will have to pay if you sign up for this plan but decide that you don’t like it and want to cancel it after a short time period. It includes costs like setup fees, modem fees and contracted minimum monthly payments. For example, if you sign up to a plan that has a 6 month contract and is $50 per month plus a $80 setup fee plus a non-refundable fee of $100 for the modem, the minimum total cost would be 6x$50 (6 monthly payments) + $80 (setup fee) + $100 (modem fee) = $480
  4. Upload speed is the speed of data transmission from your house to the internet. Upload speed is usually lower than download speed as most people download much more data than they upload but in certain circumstances such as if you plan on doing lots of live streaming then upload speed becomes pretty important.
  5. Download speed is the speed of data transmission from the internet to your house.
  6. Typical evening speed is the average speed of the connection during the peak usage time of 7pm to 11pm. It’s a good guide to how fast your internet connection will be during busy times. For example the maximum speed of your connection may be 100Mbps but during busy times you will only experience a speed of 80Mbps due to everyone in your area wanting to use the connection at the same time.
  7. Data Quota is the volume of data (usually in GB) that can be downloaded over a monthly period. Quota isn’t as much of a decision point these days as most plans come with very generous or unlimited bandwidth allowances. If you choose a plan with a quota that isn’t suitable for your needs you can always upgrade or downgrade your account later.

Other things to look out for when choosing a NBN internet plan

  • Short term discounts – don’t be tempted by short term discounts as you will end up paying the normal monthly fee for multiple years after the discount period ends
  • Wireless 4G & 5G plans may be better value than some NBN plans so shop around and do your research
  • Read the fine print – make sure you understand all the fees that you will pay and the minimum cost to terminate the account if you are not happy.

Further Reading

This article is the part of our ultimate guide to NBN, wireless and broadband internet in Australia. Other articles in this series are: