- Feeling like the NBN isn't working out for you?
- Thinking about trying Home Wireless Broadband or Mobile Broadband?
- Trying to work out the difference between 4G And 5G?
NBN may be a reliable connection to some, but it’s not sunshine and rainbows all the time. It also has its fair share of users complaining about slow connection speeds and poor service in their areas. Fortunately, there are quite a number of alternatives here in Australia if the NBN is simply not cutting it.
These NBN alternatives can be categorised into two main groups: Home Wireless and Mobile Broadband. Knowing the difference between the two and how each of them compares to NBN can help you decide which can be the better choice for you.
Home Wireless vs. Mobile Broadband: Which is better?
Home Wireless and Mobile Broadband are both powered by mobile networks. They are designed as an alternative to traditional internet connections such as NBN, ADSL, or Cable. But between the two, there are also a number of differences that stand out.
First, let’s go with Home Wireless broadband. While it is the main choice for customers who are looking to have an internet connection installed at home or in the office, it does not allow much flexibility for the user because the modem requires a power source.
Since the modem is not meant to be pocketed, it goes without saying that it’s not portable. But if you don’t mind lugging around a chunky piece of hardware as you move, there’s nothing wrong with taking the modem with you and plugging it into a socket for an instant connection.
With Home Wireless and Mobile Broadband, customers are given a lot of options when it comes to plans. You can choose according to your budget, allotted speed, and the maximum data allowed per month. Home Wireless plans typically come with more data. However, download speeds are generally slower compared to Mobile Broadband (speeds are dependent on where you are).
In terms of hardware, the modem used for Home Wireless broadband also comes with more features such as multiple ethernet ports. This is ideal for connecting devices that require a physical connection to the device.
Mobile Broadband, on the other hand, is the on-the-go version of the Home Wireless broadband. It is also powered by 4G mobile networks and is offered with various data plans. Customers usually get the same data allowances as a phone plan, which could translate to paying as much as a Home Wireless plan but for a lower data cap.
The advantage, however, is that Mobile Broadband has faster download speeds generally than Home Wireless plans (speeds vary depending on where you are). It runs on a 4G network that can go up to 100 Mbps, although, of course, it still depends on your service provider and coverage.
Between the two, Mobile Broadband is the better choice for people who move around a lot because it does not require a constant power source. You can also opt to avail of a portable hotspot or a SIM that you can use on a spare smartphone or tablet.
If you are looking to apply for a wireless broadband plan, you can choose from a list of telcos offering the service. You can check out our comprehensive guide on wireless broadband plans to know more about your options.
But if you think a faster and more portable connection suits you better, then you might want to read up on the list of telcos that offer unlimited Mobile Broadband plans.
4G vs 5G: What’s the difference?
While 4G broadband is the more popular option among customers, 5G broadband is also fast becoming a favourite among consumers these days. It is designed with similar technology to that of 4G broadband, but with faster and more efficient performance. 5G offers extremely low latency, as well as download speeds that are faster than anythng 4G or the NBN can offer.
While there have been some vocal concerns about the impact 5G has on human health, none of these concerns are backed by any scientific evidence and the remain, for all intents and purposes, in the realm of unfounded conspiracy theories. The mid-band frequencies the Australaian 5G networks use are nowhere near powerful enough to damage human cells; they sit between the exact same 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies that our Wi-Fi networks have used for decades. We're expected to see some Australian 5G networks upgrade to an even faster 26GHz mmWave band in late 2021, but this will put in on par with same frequency that's been used by satelites and radar for the past 50 years.
The 5G Australian rollout is well underway, and there are currently active 5G towers running around many metropolitan areas all over Australia. At the time of writing, Telstra, Optus and Vodafone are your primary choices for Australian 5G. You can read more about the 5G network here.
Top NBN Alternatives
Regional Alternatives to NBN
Of course, your options are still very much dependent on what’s available in your area. NBN has not completed its rollout in Australia, much less so for other telecommunications companies. So even if you want to opt out of your NBN plan, it won’t be easy if you don’t have many options.
Among the better-known alternatives to NBN are OptiComm, Lightning Broadband, and Spirit because these three networks service a significant number of areas across various states in Australia. The OptiComm network includes brands such as iiNet and Exetel, which are commonly used in housing estates. In other cities, Lightning Broadband is available with speeds of 25Mbps up to 500Mbps. Plans typically include unlimited data with prices starting at $155/month for stand-alone homes. Spirit, meanwhile, specialises in high-speed internet, with up to 1000Mbps starting at $200/month.
If you reside in Western Australia, particularly in the Perth area, you may have heard of Pentanet, which is a top choice among Perth residents. This network offers plans for Fixed Wireless internet starting at $79/month, with $0 installation fee. Pentanet will let you choose your upload speed, your download speed, and your data allowance, and they offer contracts that go for 12 months, 24 months, 36 months, or month-to-month.
Residents of Adelaide also have their fair share of service providers other than NBN. Rural-dwellers in South Australia, however, may find the rates a bit higher than NBN. But if it’s not an issue for you, you may want to enquire about these brands: Superloop offer 200GB plans starting from $49.95, and Unlimited Data plans starting from $59.95. Kern Wi-Fi is a network that’s mainly centred in Adelaide that offers considerably modest prices for their Home Fixed Wireless Plans; they can give you 20GB for $40/month, 50GB for $50/month, 100GB for $60/month, 300GB for $70/month, 500GB for $90/month, and 1000GB for $120/month.
In Queensland, a popular alternative to NBN is Open Cloud Broadband, which offers speeds of up to 200/100Mbps. The network offers Unlimited Data plans for Fibre to the Home and Fibre to the Basement starting at $49/month.
New South Wales
In New South Wales, newcomer OpalNet provides its services with speeds ranging from 50/50Mbps to 1000/1000, with prices ranging from $79.90/month to $339.90/month. Another population is Sky Fibre, an independent company that was founded in Western Sydney that offer a range of high performance alternatives to the NBN. A Sky Fibre 15 plan starts at a $59.95/month and will give you a up to 15Mbps of download speed, and a Sky Fibre 60 plan starts at $79.95/month with up to 60Mbps of download speed.
Those living in Victoria enjoy more reliable alternatives than most states in Australia. Residents also have the option to go with Mesh Telo, RocTel, or Rocket Networks. Mesh Telco's prices start from $300/month but the amount of Mbps they offer is completely dependent on your specific location. Rocketel currently offer unlimted data plans in three varieties; 100/100 Mbps for $99.95/month, 300/300 Mpbs for $129.95/month, and 1000/1000 Mbps for $229.95/month. Rocket Networks are a relatively smaller company compared to the others on the list and it mainly offers internet connection for apartment buildings. Plans are available from $199 per month, exluding their low cost setup costs, and they can provide network access with speeds from 5 Mbps to 1000 Mbps.
To switch or not to switch?
With the growing number of internet connection options as NBN alternatives, it’s easy for customers to make the big switch, especially if there are several types available in your area.
But what is really the best option when it comes to broadband plans? Is home Wi-Fi the better choice over a Mobile Broadband plan? Should you ditch your NBN now and go for a more reliable 4G plan from a different service provider? Or should you just stick it out a little longer and wait until 5G launches in more areas?
There is no one perfect answer to this. Ultimately, it all boils down to your personal preference. Service providers may claim they have the best service and the fastest internet connection for customers. Some of them might say their plans give the most value for your money.
While speed does play a huge role in every customer’s decision process, there are many other factors to consider before picking a plan or service provider. Before you make a choice, you might also want to think about the following considerations...
Besides speed, costs are also an important consideration when choosing an internet service provider. Once you’ve identified your main options, list down the data plans that they offer so you can see which ones you can afford.
It’s understandable if you have a limit to how much you are willing to spend on your connection so make sure you study your options well. Rates typically range from $40 up to $140 depending on the speed, data cap, and your location. Knowing each network’s rate could make it easier for you to decide.
Another factor is your preferred data cap. Several networks have unlimited data plans while others impose a data cap according to the tier you choose. If you consume a lot of data on a regular basis, especially for work or if there’s plenty of people using the internet in your residence, an unlimited data plan might be the better choice.
Installation fees are also something you might want to consider. Some companies offer zero installation fees but only for subscribers who are availing of longer contracts. If a 12 or 18-month contract is more practical for you, then this is a definite plus. But if you are only looking to apply for a month-to-month subscription, be prepared to shell out $100-$200 for the setup fee.
The main reason you could be thinking of dropping NBN is because of poor connection or unreliability, which is valid. However, in doing so, you also have to make sure that you are switching to a network that performs better. You can try asking your friends, relatives, or neighbours if they can recommend other networks that are available and perform well in your area.But if you'd prefer to chat to an expert, feel free to call one of our friendly consultants for a free broadband consultation on 1300 106 571.
Customer service is also an important factor. Network providers are bound to experience outages at some point and it’s definitely helpful if their customer support is easy to reach. A company that’s difficult to connect with or has poor customer service may not be easy to transact with, so that’s something you should be on the lookout for.
The best way to go about this is by making comparisons between telcos and the plans they offer. You can read our article for a list of Home Wi-Fi deals or read up on Mobile Broadband plans for easy guidance on your top options.