Compare broadband: The definitive guide


Are you wondering how to choose your broadband plan? It's hard to choose your home internet with many considerations, including typical speed and types of broadband. We can help you narrow down the decision.

Let's get to the following commonly asked questions:

  • What is broadband?
  • What are the different types of broadband internet?
  • What is NBN?
  • What is mobile broadband?
  • What is wireless broadband?
  • What are broadband download and upload speeds?
  • How fast is 4g compared to broadband?
  • What broadband speed is best for me?
  • What else should I look for when making a broadband comparison?

Q1: What is broadband?

Broadband is one of those terms bandied around — but what is it? Essentially, broadband transmits wide bandwidth data using high internet speeds.

Once upon a time, the internet connection method used 'dial-up' and the phone line. Dial-up internet was a relatively slow way of connecting to the internet. Now, broadband is the most common technology. It's how you get the internet to browse online and for HD video streaming.

Broadband connections require a minimum of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds. 

Broadband connects people with high-speed internet, using various types of technologies. These might include fibre optics, cable, DSL, satellite, or home wireless broadband. 

Broadband is not the same as WiFi. The latter — also called wireless internet — is simply a way to connect the broadband to the user.

Note: If you're comparing broadband to change your internet service provider, use our comparison tool for the best results. 

Q2: What are the different types of broadband internet?

There are two types of broadband: a fixed line or wireless internet. The former uses a physical cable to connect your property to the internet. 

However, wireless internet uses mobile networks to connect. Each has various subtypes: NBN, ADSL, mobile broadband, and home fixed wireless. 

As more dwellings connect to the NBN, the ADSL is becoming obsolete. ADSL plans use copper lines to send data signals. It's not the quickest internet provider and may not last much longer in Australian homes.

We'll start comparing NBN to other broadband internet types, such as mobile broadband and home wireless. 

Q3: What is NBN?

NBN broadband (the National Broadband Network) is a high-speed internet connection using fibre-optic cables owned by the Australian government. 

The majority of homes can switch to the NBN. However, NBN connection types differ depending on where you live. 

There are four types of NBN network technologies:

  • Fibre to the premise (FTTP): This NBN plan connects your home directly with the NBN fibre optic cable. It's one of the more reliable connections available. You need a technician to ensure the utility and connection boxes in and out of your home are NBN ready.
  • Fibre to the node (FTTN): NBN providers install a box in your area, usually at the end of the street. The fibre optic cables connect the box to the NBN. A copper network connects your house to the box to get NBN speeds.
  • Fibre to the curb (FTTC): An existing copper network connects your home with a DPU, also placed on your street.
  • Fibre to the building (FTTB): Usually used in apartment blocks, the FTTB uses a fibre optic cable at the bottom of your building. This NBN rollout map uses existing wires throughout the building.

Q4: What is mobile broadband?

Mobile broadband is similar to what you get on your phone plans. However, unlike mobile phones, you can't make calls or send texts. You can access mobile broadband via a modem, tablet, or another device. 

Although, most Australian mobiles let you host an internet connection through a hotspot. 

The best part of mobile broadband is its portability. As with your phone, you can take your modem with you wherever you go. However, it often doesn't offer as much data because of this. On the other hand, many mobile plans offer unlimited data.

Q5: What is wireless broadband?

Home wireless broadband plans work exactly like mobile broadband. Wireless broadband plans typically include larger data allowances — sometimes unlimited internet. Therefore, with a larger modem, it's less portable. 

Many see wireless broadband as an alternative to the NBN. Its standard speed is relatively similar. When 5G home broadband becomes more accessible, wireless broadband speeds could even overtake the NBN.

You can also get fixed wireless. This technology uses network towers to connect your home with the internet via a fixed antenna and connects to an NBN box. It's a more consistent and stable alternative to home wireless broadband.

Q6: What are broadband download and upload speeds? 

Broadband download and upload speeds are important factors to consider. Your speed plan is always easy to find. 

The download speed is the amount of data coming into the house. We measure speed by megabits per second (Mbps). The maximum speeds are the fastest rate the data can travel with optimum bandwidth. The download speed is responsible for streaming and downloading.

The upload speed is data leaving home. For example, sending emails, uploading files, and video calls depending on your upload speed. 

You can check your current broadband speed with online speed tests. 

Important: You should check the evening speed as this is typically the busiest time when the maximum broadband will be slowest.

Q7: How fast is 4G compared to broadband?

Generally speaking, 4G isn't as fast as home broadband. With 4G, you can expect between 100Mbps to 300Mbps. Although, you may often find you get less. Wired broadband, on the other hand, is more reliable. You can upgrade your data plan to upwards of 300Mbps.

Q8: What broadband speed is best for me? 

Not everyone requires the fastest internet plan available. It all depends on your usage. You won't want a premium speed if you only use SD video streaming and basic browsing. Don't pay for more than you need; only pay for the broadband speed you require. 

However, if you do a lot of video calling and stream videos in HD, you might want to pay more for a better maximum upload speed. 

Note: The maximum speeds you can enjoy depending on the technology type available at your address. 

Q9: What else should I look for when making a broadband comparison?

Speed, connection, and price are important considerations when looking at internet deals. Remember to check your address is eligible for a wide range of connection technology.

Take the time to check which plans are available and the plan details.


When you compare broadband plans, make sure you're aware of all the different fees. On top of your internet bill, broadband providers tack on additional fees. If you're saving money, pay attention to the different speed tiers and connection fees.

For example, if you don't need high speeds, opt out of premium evening speed add ons. Check for any ongoing or upfront fees, such as installation or set up costs.

Add ons

Many broadband plans in Australia include bonuses and add ons. For instance, some offer free unlimited broadband for a period or streaming services included in the plan. 

Make sure you don't opt for a higher-priced plan only to get the add ons. But, if it looks like a good deal, don't rule it out. 

Plan type

The internet plan type is an important feature to check. You won't be able to change your WiFi plans from month to month. Lockin contracts are less flexible. Plus, check the connection types available. 


Finally, many broadband deals offer bundles that include all your household essentials. For example, you may be able to combine your car insurance, car loan, home phone, and home WiFi into one internet bundle.

Bundles are often more cost-effective and worth asking for, even if the internet provider doesn't offer them.

In summary, 

Changing broadband providers in Australia isn't as complicated as it seems. Firstly, check what is available at your address — what technology supports internet connections at your house? Secondly, compare different broadband plans. Is there a bundle that covers all your household needs? 

Finally, assess your needs. Do you need high internet speed for video streaming? Or would you prefer to save money and opt for a cheaper plan that doesn't offer premium speeds? Ensure you settle for a price plan that suits your needs. 

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Disclaimer: The author is not a financial advisor and the information provided is general in nature and was prepared for information purposes only. This article should not be considered to constitute financial advice. Accordingly, reliance should not be placed on this article as the basis for making an investment, financial or other decision. This information does not take into account your investment objectives, particular needs, or financial situation.

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