- Cable is fastest, but ADSL2+ much more widely available
- Mobile wireless not the best for home use
- Telstra, TPG, Optus and Internode are the biggest providers
A lot of people call us up and ask for the fastest broadband possible. However, this question doesn’t have a simple answer. There are a number of different kinds of broadband internet including ADSL, ADSL2+, cable, mobile wireless, satellite and fibre optic, and each of these is only available in certain locations.
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Currently ADSL2+ broadband is the most common type of high-speed broadband available in Australia. Generally accessible from numerous different cheap Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in metropolitan areas, it is also available in some regional locations via the owner of Australia’s telephone infrastructure, Telstra BigPond. However, BigPond do usually charge more for the service.
ADSL2+ runs at speeds of up to 24Mbps (24,000kbps), although some providers offer it at 20Mbps or 18Mbps. This is very fast internet, and as it’s widely available it will usually be your best option if the infrastructure is in your location. The speed does decrease the further away you live from the local telephone exchange, so you should enquire about what speeds you should expect to receive.
Bonded ADSL2+ VDSL2 (Business)
This is really only relevant for business users, as it costs more than a standard residential service. Two ADSL2+ copper wires are entwined to create one super-quick ADSL2+ connection. Speeds run up to 30Mbps (30,000kbps).
ADSL1 is the most common form of fast broadband internet currently in use around Australia. It runs on a telephone line and can reach speeds of up to 8Mbps (8,000kbps). However, ADSL1 is priced by speed, and comes in 256kbps, 512kbps, 1500kbps, or the 8000kbps speed. Both 1500kbps and 8000kbps plans are quite fast, but the latter usually costs a lot more.
ADSL1 is available in most locations around Australia, even in regional areas. The only places that can’t get ADSL1 are in rural bush/Outback regions where homes are too far away from the nearest telephone exchange.
Cable broadband runs on a coaxial cable, the same type that TV services like Foxtel need to offer a service. Cable broadband runs at speeds of up to 30Mbps (30,000kbps), which in some instances is even faster than ADSL2+. However, the further one is from the cable exchange, the slower your speed will be. This rate of deceasing speed is greater than that of ADSL2+.
Cable broadband is usually more expensive than ADSL2+ because there are less broadband providers competing in the industry. It also costs more to set-up, because cable needs to be laid throughout your home. Cable broadband is only available in certain locations, mostly in the heart of metropolitan cities. The main cable broadband providers in Australia are Optus and BigPond.
Fibre optic broadband is the newest form of internet to hit our shores, and it is by far the fastest option around. Only available in rare locations for the time being, the NBN (National Broadband Network) is currently rolling out new fibre optic systems in numerous locations around Australia.
Other ISPs like BigPond are also rolling out their own privately owned fibre optic networks to compete with the NBN. Fibre optic runs at speeds of anywhere up to 100Mbps (100,000kbps) or 1Gbps (1 million kbps!) This is pretty much as fast as broadband internet currently gets anywhere around the globe.
If you live in a regional location too far from a telephone exchange for ADSL broadband, your next best option for fast internet is mobile wireless. Mobile wireless works off of the mobile phone towers, and although connections may be less stable than that of ADSL, speeds can be pretty quick.
Telstra BigPond has the fastest speeds and widest coverage via its NextG network, but you will have to pay more for it. One major factor affecting speed with mobile wireless broadband is the capacity of your USB modem (dongle), as these vary a lot.
Other factors include how far you are from the mobile phone tower, how many people are using the tower at the same time as you, and potential black spots where the signal doesn’t reach (caused by geographical formations).
The speeds you’ll be quoted for mobile wireless will almost never reach their potential limit, but in good situations you should be able to get a speed equivalent to an ADSL1500kbps connection. However, new technologies are being developed that even rival speeds of ADSL2+.
Optus and Vodafone also own mobile phone towers in regional areas, with numerous providers renting the Optus towers, thus leading to lower prices for consumers who have access to the service.
If you live in the bush/Outback/a rural location too far away from both telephone exchanges and mobile phone towers, you’ll have to go for satellite broadband. To set up satellite broadband the Australian Government has its Australian Broadband Guarantee, which will cover the rather expensive costs involved with getting a satellite dish installed.
Speeds are usually pretty slow, ranging from 256kbps to around 1Mbps with the major providers. However, if you do your research you’ll find some companies offer speeds of up to 4Mbps. Both the NBN and Optus are in the process of developing/procuring new satellite broadband technologies, which could greatly increase speeds in the future.