Types of Internet and broadband in Australia

October 7th, 2021
types of internet available in Australia - nbn, wireless, adsl, fibre optic

What types of broadband internet are available in Australia?

Part 2 of our Ultimate guide to NBN, wireless and broadband internet in Australia

There are many types of broadband available in Australia but the most common are listed below:

All these technologies allow high speed internet to be delivered to your home or business.

NBN (National Broadband Network)

What is the NBN?

The National Broadband Network (NBN) is a Federal Government led project that aims to provide all Australian homes and businesses with access to a fast and reliable internet connection.

The NBN network uses a range of broadband technologies including new fibre optic cable, existing copper lines, fixed wireless and satellite to deliver fast internet to your home or business. The NBN is managed by NBN Co which is wholly owned by the Australian Commonwealth Government. The NBN project is one Australia’s largest infrastructure projects ever and installation costs to date are around $50 billion.

What are the different types of NBN?

The NBN™ consists of a fibre optic backbone that provides fast internet to most areas of Australia. Various technologies are used to connect your house to this fast NBN backbone including:

  • Fibre to the premises (FTTP)
  • Fibre to the building (FTTB)
  • Fibre to the node (FTTN)
  • HFC cable (coaxial cable)
  • Fixed wireless
  • High speed satellite (Sky Muster)

For more information read our guide on the different types of NBN available in Australia. [add link]

NBN Upgrade Coming

There is currently an NBN upgrade program underway to convert two million Australians from fibre to the node (FTTN) to fibre to the premises (FFTP) for free. This upgrade will improve NBN speeds in the areas that receive the upgrade.

Does the type of NBN connection affect your internet speed?

Different NBN technologies have different maximum speeds. A comparison of the different maximum internet connection speeds for the different NBN technologies are shown in the graph below.

A comparison of the maximum speeds of different NBN connections

What NBN plans are available?

NBN plans come in all shapes and sizes. A list of the standard NBN plans and speeds and typical uses they are suitable for is shown below.

Please note, that Netflix only requires a maximum connection speed of 5Mbps for streaming in HD so in theory all NBN plans are Netflix HD compatible 😊.

Plan NameDownload Speed (Mbps)Upload Speed (Mbps)Suitable For
NBN12 – Basic I Speed121Low use, single person households, web browsing, email and light video steaming for a single device
NBN25 – Basic II Speed2510Fine for singles or couples, HD video streaming and video conferencing, 4K video streaming may buffer
NBN50 – Standard Speed5020Good for families and working from home, allow multiple video streams and video conferencing
NBN100 – Fast Speed10040Great for large families or sharehouses, allows multiple simultaneous 4K video streaming, great for gamers
NBN250 – Superfast Speed25025Super fast speeds for heavy internet users. Great for live streaming and gaming.
NBN1000 – Ultrafast Speed100050The faster speed tier, faster than most people would use, only available for FTTP and HFC connections

Need help choosing an NBN plan? Our broadband internet plan finder asks you a few simple questions then displays the best plans to suit your needs.

ADSL

What is ADSL and ADSL2?

The introduction of ADSL in the early 2000s revolutionised the internet in Australia. It allowed us to transition away from the tediously slow speeds of dialup internet to reliable, fast and always-on broadband in a relatively short time period.

ADSL and ADSL2+ connections use your existing copper telephone lines to deliver internet to your home via your local telephone exchange. ADSL has a top speed of 8Mbps, and ADSL2+ technology can achieve speeds up to 24Mbps. Not everyone will receive the maximum speeds as the distance of your house to the exchange (ie the length of copper cable) will determine the maximum internet speed.

ADSL stands for ‘Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line’ and is an innovative technology that allows faster download and upload speeds over existing copper phone lines. It uses a device called a DSL filter, which separates the telephone voice signals from the digital data based on their frequency and allows them both to share the same line with little or no interference.

The beauty of ADSL is that  it is  cheap, relatively simple to setup and uses existing infrastructure. There are already thousands of kilometres of copper phone lines buried in the ground, so all you need to do is fit a DSL filter to your existing phone line to allow faster internet access.

ADSL is slower than the NBN so it will eventually be phased out in Australia.

Is ADSL2 faster than the NBN?

No, ADSL2+ has a maximum speed of 24Mbps whereas NBN can achieve speeds of 100Mbps and even 1000Mbps in some areas.

Cable Internet

What is cable internet?

“Cable” internet is another name for hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) which is a mix of high speed fibre optic cables and slower coaxial cables used by pay TV companies like Foxtel. The fibre optic cables form the high speed backbone whereas the coaxial cables connect from your house to a nearby node. A coaxial cable consists of a copper wire surrounded by a copper sheath with an insulator layer in between. These cables are designed to carry radio signals such as cable TV and internet with very little interference from other signals.

The NBN has superseded most cable internet connections but even the NBN does use HFC technologies in some areas.

Fibre Optic Internet

What is fibre optic broadband?

Optical fibre is the fastest technology currently available to connect you to the internet and forms the backbone of the NBN. Optical fibres are tiny glass cables through which light signals are transmitted. Multiple optical fibres are usually bundled together to form fibre optic cables. Fibre optic cables are much superior to copper cables as they can transmit much higher rates of data over longer distances. Since fibre optic cables use light to transmit data they are also immune to electromagnetic interference.

Business Fibre Connections

The NBN has provided widespread access to fibre optic internet connections for businesses but there are still some private companies that offer high speed dedicated fibre optic connections to Australian businesses.

Satellite Internet

What is satellite broadband?

Satellite broadband is often the only internet option for Australians living in remote or rural areas. Internet data is streamed from a satellite to a satellite dish mounted on the house.

Up until recently, NBN’s Sky Muster satellite network was the only way to access the internet via satellite in Australia. In February 2021, Elon Musk’s satellite internet service Starlink launched in Australia. Starlink promises average download speeds of 100Mbps compared with 25Mbps offered by NBN Sky Muster. Starlink also promises better latency (data lag) than the NBN satellite system.

Starlink uses a different approach to other satellite internet providers. NBN’s Sky Muster satellites are about 36,000 kms above the earth’s service whereas Starlink’s satellites are about 550km up. This reduced distance allows for faster internet speeds and better latency. Since the satellites are lower in orbit they cover a smaller area on the earth’s surface so there needs to be more of them.

Wireless 4G & 5G Broadband Internet

What is wireless mobile internet?

Wireless 4G & 5G internet uses the mobile phone network to access the internet. A dedicated wireless modem connects to the mobile network and then broadcasts a wifi network in your house that you can use to connect to the internet.

Since you will be sharing your 4G or 5G internet connection with many other people, it may slow down considerably at peak times due to network congestion. The more people in your area using 4G or 5G internet, the slower your internet will be.

5G is the latest mobile technology and is up to 20 times faster than 4G and can accommodate more connections in a given area.

In Australia, wireless 4G internet speeds can go as high as 100Mbps and wireless 5G internet speeds can exceed 1000Mbps. Both 4G and 5G speeds depend on the coverage and the number of users in your area.

If you are interested in reading more about 5G speeds in Australia, check out this report.

Wireless broadband internet technology is moving very quickly and is an interesting space to watch. It may prove to be a serious competitor for the NBN in the near future.

Dial up Internet

Dial up internet involves connecting to the internet via a modem over the public telephone network. It is extremely slow with speeds of around 56kbps and users often experience frequent dropouts.

Dial up internet has been superseded by the NBN in Australia.

Need help choosing a broadband plan?

Our broadband internet plan finder can help you find the best plan to suit your needs and budget.

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