Which ADSL speed is right for me?

  • What is ADSL2+?
  • Slower doesn't always mean cheaper
  • Distance from the exchange can limit your speed

When you start calling around or searching the internet for broadband at home, the jargon involved can be quite confusing. The most popular type of broadband currently available in Australia is ADSL, but within this term there are five different speeds. How do you know which speed is best for your needs?


ADSL2+ is the fastest and ironically, cheapest, form of ADSL broadband. This is because it is the most competitive broadband market, with numerous broadband providers vying to get your service. If you can get it, you should go for it.

However, you need to be aware ADSL2+ is usually only available in major metropolitan areas and their surrounding suburbs. It costs quite a lot for an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to put its ADSL2+ equipment into a phone exchange, so they only enable those exchanges deemed to be worthy of a sustainable income.

The exception to the rule is of course Telstra BigPond. As Telstra owns the major telephone network in Australia, it is much easier for BigPond to offer ADSL2+ services to people in regional locations. The sad truth accompanying this reality is BigPond is the least competitive ADSL2+ provider, and its relatively high prices are often not worth signing up to. In this scenario you would be better off considering an ADSL1 option with a different ISP.


Normal ADSL is priced by speed, and there are four different options for you to choose from: 256kbps, 512kbps, 1500kbps, or 8000kbps. The cost of a plan usually increases exponentially in relation to speed, but how much download data is offered can also influence the price of a plan. Don’t be fooled by a cheap ‘unlimited’ ADSL 256kbps plan, as it’s almost irrelevant how much data you have when your speed is this slow!

ADSL 256kbps:

This is the entry speed into the world of ADSL broadband. ADSL runs through an active phone line so be aware that all ADSL plans (except Naked DSL, which is a form of ADSL2+) need an active phone connection. Getting your ADSL broadband in a bundle with your home phone line rental through the single provider can often save you money.

Dial-up is 64kbps, so if this is what you are used to ADSL 256kbps can seem pretty quick. However, as ADSL2+ runs at speeds of up to 24Mbps (24,000kbps), it’s much slower than the alternatives. If you are not in a hurry and don’t mind how long websites take to load up, ADSL 256kbps can be sufficient for your needs. If all you do online is email and basic banking or searching, you may not mind this speed at all.

ADSL 512kbps:

Twice as fast as its predecessor, this ADSL speed can give you slightly more insight into real broadband, but it’s still much slower than the two faster ADSL1 speeds. If you want to make high quality Skype calls or watch YouTube videos without having to wait for them to load up, this still won’t be a sufficient speed.

ADSL 1500kbps:

This is the most common ADSL1 speed, and we usually don’t recommend anything slower to customers wishing to have a fast broadband experience. A 1500kbps connection will let you have high quality Skype or VoIP audio calls, not to mention video calls. However, be conscious how far away you live from the local telephone exchange has a direct affect on the actual speed entering your home.

If you do live quite far away from the exchange the 1500kbps speed still might not be fast enough for your needs. Also, if you want to use several computers concurrently on the same ADSL connection, and one computer is watching internet TV, the other users will have quite a slow experience whilst web surfing.

ADSL 8000kbps:

This is the fastest type of ADSL1 you can get, so if ADSL2+ is unavailable in your location and you need as fast a speed as possible, ADSL 8000kbps is for you. As always, how far you live from the exchange will determine your final speed, but if you have multiple computers and some are downloading music or watching YouTube videos, you’ll need this quick speed so the other people online can still have a good internet experience.

Online gamers can get away with a 1500kbps speed, but if you don’t ever want to worry about your game slowing down or dropping off, the 8000kbps speed ensures as little interference as possible.
Note: In regional locations and outer suburbs ADSL2+ often only runs at speeds of up to 8000kbps.