- Almost all NBN plans now offer unlimited data
- Some plans may consider peak/off-peak periods but it’s unlikely
- Get to know typical evening speeds before you sign up to a plan
Before the NBN, back when ADSL was the dominant technology for connecting to the Internet, providers often restricted data to peak and off-peak times. You would have a certain allocation of data to use during busy periods, and an allocation when the network was quieter.
Nowadays, almost all NBN plans offer unlimited data. In practice, your Internet provider could still slow down your speed if you use a lot of data, especially during busy times.
While it’s extremely uncommon, some plans may still consider on and off-peak periods, with the off-peak time usually being in the middle of the night when most people are asleep.
Why on and off-peak times?
Before the NBN, the amount of bandwidth that could be used across the copper wires for ADSL connections meant that congestion was a real issue. To help manage that, ISPs used peak and off-peak data quotas.
Depending on your plan, you would get a certain amount of data to use at peak time, and another amount for off peak times. After you had used up your data, you would either be charged excess usage amounts or have your broadband speed throttled to dial-up speeds.
The idea was to try to encourage customers to schedule data heavy tasks, like downloading music, videos or other large files, for times when the network was quieter.
Fortunately, as our broadband infrastructure matured, the need for peak and off peak times has diminished. With the NBN, you may still see your performance slow down during busy periods, but ISPs need to disclose the speeds you can expect during peak hours.
Popular NBN plans
Before getting an NBN plan, make sure you know when the busy and quiet Internet times are. Also, find out the speed you'll get during busy times, even if the plan has unlimited data.
Some providers offer plans without congestion, so you can enjoy the promised speed even when many people are online.