With the initial NBN rollout complete, and fibre expanding to more locations, now is a great time to make the move to a new plan. If you’re looking to upgrade but can’t get past the array of connection types and speed tiers available, don’t stress – we’ve compiled a guide with all you need to know.
Aside from NBN wireless connections, largely used in rural and remote areas, there are five main kinds of “fixed-line” connection, depending on how the fibre cables are connected to the household.
FTTP : Fibre to the Premises – the original plan before 2013 – is the best type of NBN connection. The fibre-optic cable here runs all the way to your house, providing fast fibre speeds without having to travel through copper at all. Unfortunately, it’s also the most expensive, and if you’re not already in a FTTP connected area, upgrading can be pretty dear.
FTTN : One of the cheapest and most widespread technologies, Fibre to the Node involves connecting fibre-optic cable to a distribution point at the end of the street, then running the remaining connection via the old copper phone lines to the house. FTTN has a reputation for also being the slowest technology, and quality varies depending on how far from the node you are and how well the copper wires have held up.
FTTC : A step below FTTP but better than FTTN, Fibre to the Curb brings the fibre connection to a pit at the end of the driveway, from which copper runs to the house. This reduces the amount of distance that data will need to travel over the slower copper wires compared to fibre.
FTTB : Fibre to the Building is found in apartments, office blocks, and similar buildings, where the fibre line runs to a distribution point in the basement of the building before switching to copper to connect to individual rooms. Speeds here will again vary depending on the quality of the copper wires and how close you are to the distribution point.
HFC : Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial connections run from the fibre node to the building via existing cable or pay TV coaxial lines. One advantage HFC has over other non-FTTP connections is that the wires are insulated, reducing interference; some providers boast that their HFC speeds can reach performance on par with FTTP.
Across these different connections, most providers will offer up to six speed tiers, increasing in price as they go up. From slowest to fastest, they are:
NBN 12 (Basic I) : The cheapest plan, offering maximum download speeds of 12Mbps. These are recommended for infrequent users such as seniors, or those on a budget, and is really only suitable for things like sending emails, browsing the web, and occasional video streaming.
NBN 25 (Basic II) : Offering maximum download speeds of 25Mbps, Basic II plans are good for single-person households or two-person households with light usage. They can handle HD streaming, though are likely to struggle with 4K video.
NBN 50 (Standard) : The most popular tier, NBN 50 plans offer 50Mbps download speeds, and are good for small households with more intense usage than an NBN 25 plan can offer. Gaming, video conferencing, and multiple simultaneous HD streams are possible.
NBN 100 (Fast): The best tier available on FTTN connections, NBN 100 (100Mbps) is good for families, sharehouses, and other larger households. Intense gaming, watching multiple 4K streams, downloading large files, and other high-usage activities are all easy on NBN 1000.
NBN 250 (Superfast) and NBN 1000 (Ultrafast): Only available on FTTP and some HFC connections, these two tiers offer up to 250Mbps and 1000 Mbps respectively. If you’re a heavy user and really need your connection to be as fast as it can be, these are the tiers for you – though for most Aussies, an NBN 50 or NBN 100 plan will suit just fine.
NBN plans are available from a broad range of providers from the big players like Telstra, Optus, and TPG to smaller outfits like Aussie Broadband, Superloop, and Tangerine. Many telcos offer discounted plans for the first few months – so take your time and find the best deal to get you connected!