- NBN plan names have changed recently.
- The change was due to an ACCC inquiry.
- The ACCC has recommended a change from maximum speeds to 'typical evening speeds'.
If you’ve been shopping around for a new broadband plan lately, you might have noticed a change in the way providers are advertising their NBN plans. While many used to categorise their plans in terms of the maximum speed (you might have seen numbers like 12/1, 25/5, 50/20, and 100/40), they're now letting you know what the 'typical evening speed' is. This is a result of an ACCC (Australian Competition & Consumer Commission) publication that claimed that NBN advertising was potentially confusing or misleading to customers and urged providers to change their language.
They're called typical evening speeds because that's usually the busiest time of day for internet traffic - between 7 pm and 11 pm. That's when a lot of people are using the internet, which results in congestion of the lines and generally slower speeds. So by signing up for a plan with a certain typical evening speed, you'll know a) the speed you're most likely to get at the time you're most likely using the internet, and b) that the speed will probably increase at other times of the day.
Here are the ACCC's recommended new speed categories:
Basic evening speed
Used to be called: Tier 1, or nbn12, or 12/1 speed
Minimum speed: No minimum
Suitable for: Light internet usage. Basically, if you choose this plan, you probably won't notice much of a difference from before you switched to NBN.
Standard evening speed
Used to be called: Tier 2, or nbn25, or 25/5 speed
Minimum speed: 15 Mbps
Suitable for: The average internet user. Would allow you to stream a high-definition movie while someone else in your house browses the internet.
Standard plus evening speed
Used to be called: Tier 3, or nbn50, or 50/20 speed
Minimum speed: 30 Mbps
Suitable for: Higher usage. Would allow you to stream an ultra high-definition movie while someone else in your house streams music.
Premium evening speed
Used to be called: Tier 4, or nbn100, or 100/40 speed
Minimum speed: 60 Mbps
Suitable for: Very high usage. Would allow you to stream an ultra high-definition movie while other people in your house play online games.
While the ACCC has outlined minimum speeds for each tier, some providers are claiming to offer typical evening speeds above the minimum. Here's a comparison of the speeds (in Mbps) at each tier for some providers:
Standard evening speed: 25 Mbps; Standard plus evening speed: 50 Mbps; Premium evening speed: 100 Mbps
Standard plus evening speed: 50 Mbps; Premium evening speed: 100 Mbps
Basic evening speed: 12 Mbps; Standard plus evening speed: 50 Mbps; Premium evening speed: 90 Mbps
Standard evening speed: 25 Mbps; Standard plus evening speed: 48 Mbps; Premium evening speed: 95 Mbps
You may have noticed that for some of the speed tiers, these providers were able to advertise the maximum speed possible. This can be attributed to the fact that congestion-free plans are becoming more popular, with many providers (including the ones listed above) now offering off-peak free data periods. This means that you can use as much data as you want during these times without it counting towards your monthly total, which should result in faster speeds.
What are congestion-free plans?
In a gist, congestion-free plans are designed to offer you the fastest possible speeds in that speed tier because of an upgraded infrastructure and/or the use of technology that can automatically reroute traffic away from congestion.
Some providers, like Aussie Broadband, have been able to offer these plans for a while now. But with the recent changes to NBN advertising, more and more providers are starting to introduce them.
Do you need a congestion-free plan?
If you're looking for the fastest possible speeds on your NBN connection, then a congestion-free plan is worth considering. More often than not, this won't affect the amount of money you pay per month.
Keep in mind, though, that even with a congestion-free plan, your speeds can still be affected by other factors like the quality of your home's connection to the NBN network or the type of technology you're using. So if you're not getting the speeds you were expecting, it's always worth checking with your provider to see if there's anything they can do.
Is it worth making a switch?
Switching to a provider capable of offering you a congestion-free plan is definitely worth considering if you're looking for the fastest possible speeds on your NBN connection. However, it's important to keep in mind that other factors can affect your speeds as well, so be sure to do your research before making a switch.
Whatever your choice, make sure you know what you're being promised when you sign up for an NBN plan; and if you're not getting what you were promised, you can contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman or the ACCC.