Choosing the right NBN plan isn't just about deciding how much data you need. You also need to consider how fast you want your connection to be.
You can choose from 5 NBN speed tiers with downloads ranging from 12Mbps to 100Mbps.
Read below for more information about the speed tiers, and who would make best use of each.
As you can see above, there is a huge difference between the maximum speeds of each of the NBN's speed tiers. While each increase in speed will bring data to you faster, it will come at a cost premium. So which speed tier is best for your usage?
Here is a guide to what you can do with these speeds and suggestions for who would make best use of them.
Before comparing plans and prices, it is important to first understand how the network speeds are described and how this means in real-world use. As it is with ADSL2+ and mobile broadband, the speeds advertised are the theoretical maximums - the top speeds available on the network.
There are several things that impact your ability to get these top speeds. With ADSL2+, the distance from your home to the telco exchange was a major factor in decreased speeds, with the maximum 24Mbps withering to about 5- or 6Mbps at the end user.
By using fibre, the NBN is far better equipped to deal with this obstacle, but there other factors, including the quality of hardware used at each end, which come into play. Still, the good news is you should enjoy most of the speed advertised.
At 12Mbps download speeds, Tier 1 NBN speeds are best for residential use where a household uses the internet for basic online tasks. These speeds are similar to what many Australians already get in metropolitan areas on an ADSL2+ connection, and we expect pricing to be fairly similar to the low-cost broadband plans we see available today.
Upload speeds of just 1Mbps are fine for simple tasks, like image uploading to social networks, but it would not be suitable for more taxing tasks. Small business might get away with these speeds, but are recommended to consider something faster.
The maximum theoretical speed on Tier 2 is 25Mbps, or 1Mbps faster than ADSL2+. That said, most users who upgrade to an NBN Tier 2 plan from ADSL2+ should experience a noticeable bump in performance, as most ADSL customers experience only about a quarter of this speed in real-world use. This plan would be sufficient for streaming video or online movie rental services.
If you consider that an average iTunes movie download is about 1.5GB, the time it would take to download the entire file on a connection in Tier 2 would be between 8 and 10 minutes. If the movie rental service you use streams movies once they have buffered, you could start watching it almost straight away.
Despite what the numbering suggests, the third tier is actually the newest inclusion in this list, adding a higher upload speed option that Tier 2. You get 25Mbps download speeds, like previous tier, but the upload rate is doubled to 10Mbps.
Upload speeds tend to be more important for business users, rather than residential users, but with the bandwidth on offer here, you would want to be sure the business was fairly small. Too many users sharing this bandwidth and the data would quickly bottleneck.
If you currently spend $100 per month on home broadband and you make the most of what's on offer, this might be the price band that will best suit your use. 50Mbps would be sufficient to make most internet applications seem instantaneous. Streaming videos will begin with little to no waiting time, online gaming should work well without any interruptions (at your end, at least).
Tier 4 is bound to be the forgotten stepchild of NBN plans, with pricing for Tier 4 and Tier 5 almost neck-and-neck, even at this early stage. Tier 4 plans tend to get more data, but many considering a Tier 4 plan will likely be tempted by the speed of the top rung plans.
If you want to take full advantage of the NBN at full flight, Tier 5 is for you. Home users will download full-length HD movie rentals in a matter of minutes, and will be future-proofed for when these files become even bigger with new, higher resolution technologies.
Small business owners will also find Tier 5 plans best for their purposes, especially where a business has several employees using the connection simultaneously. The upload speeds of 40Mbps are great if your business shares large quantities of media online, including photos and videos, but they are also essential for large data backups to cloud services.
With current broadband connections, you use a modem to synchronise a connection to the network. When the NBN is install to your home, part of the hardware installed by the government will be a device called the Network Termination Device (NTD). This is what the network connects to, and as such, it plays a similar role to deliver the internet to your house as your modem does now.
You still need to share the connection though, so you will need a router. Many people with ADSL2+ may find that their current modem/router device is fine for doing this, especially if it has Wi-Fi built-in.
But remember, the reason you are upgrading to the NBN is to make the most of the faster network, and if your current router is old, it may not be up to the task of sharing the internet at NBN speeds.
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