How much can you pay?

Generally, faster speeds and greater bandwidth capabilities mean that the internet service product becomes more expensive. When making your selection, you’ll want to aim for the plan that best fits how your household will be using the internet.

If you live alone and will mainly be using the internet to intermittently scroll social media and watch the odd movie via streaming, there’s little point splashing out for an expensive option when a more basic plan will more than accommodate your needs. On the other hand, if you live in a household with several people who all work from home, use the internet for gaming and regularly use streaming services, you’ll need to make sure that you select a plan with suitable bandwidth and speed tier.

How much data will you need?

While unlimited internet plans are commonplace, some cheaper options cap internet use at a certain amount of data per month. If you have a rough idea of how much data you will use each month, you can see if you could get away with paying less for a capped internet plan. When you go over your data plan though, restrictions or additional charges can apply.

What internet speed will you need?

We’ve all come to know and loathe that buffering circle that pops up in the middle of the screen, inevitably halfway through a movie or interrupting a crucial moment in the sports game you are streaming. The key to avoiding that unwelcome intrusion is to have a plan with speeds that can keep up with everyone in the household who uses the internet.

Speed is measured via downloads and uploads, and is measured in megabits per second (Mbps). Note this is not a megabyte per second - a common misnomer. There are roughly eight megabits to a megabyte, so if your plan was yielding a 40Mbps maximum download speed, you’d technically be able to download five megabytes in a second.

If you were watching Netflix or downloading a movie, that is counted as a download. If you were uploading a picture to Instagram, a video to YouTube or putting photos to the cloud, that’s an upload.

NBN speed tiers explained

When you connect to the NBN, you can choose from several speed tiers to best suit the specific needs of your household.

Speed tier

Estimated mb/s (busy period)

Suitable number of household internet users

Suitable uses

Home basic



Browsing the internet, social media, sending emails, streaming music

Home standard



High definition video streaming, downloading files, working from home, online gaming

Home fast



Ultra HD (4k) streaming, large file downloads

Home superfast



Concurrent 4k and 8k streaming, faster download speeds

NBN evening speeds explained

Your home internet plan doesn’t exist in a vacuum. In the evening, everyone else in your neighbourhood is likely streaming, playing games and browsing Facebook or TikTok. This can lower the maximum speed of your internet plan, and the NBN has made it mandatory for companies to reveal their ‘evening speeds'.

While the maximum download speed might be 50Mbps, the internet provider might not have allocated enough bandwidth for everyone to get that speed, so will throttle speeds to say 42Mbps so everyone can jump on the internet.

This is more prevalent if your home is using a FTTN or fibre to the node connection, where lots of houses are connected to the node, which then connects to your home via copper wiring. Other connection types (FTTP, FTTC, FTTB) are less susceptible to speed throttling, however service providers are generally doing a better job at maintaining speeds than they were three to five years ago.

Month to month or term contract

Most providers in Australia now offer no lock in internet plans, allowing month to month payments. Some products though will have contracts, normally ranging from six to 24 months. While many favour the flexibility of a month to month plan, it’s possible that you could save money by signing an extended contract, so it could be worth considering if you know you will need internet at the same place for at least the contract term.

Fixed line or wireless connection

You can connect to the internet through either a fixed line or wireless connection. However, not everywhere in Australia can be connected through both, so it’s important to find out the specifics for your location.

Fixed line connection

A fixed line connection means your household transmits and receives data using physical cables. Fixed line internet tends to be faster and more reliable than mobile internet, but this tends to also mean these plans are more expensive.

The National Broadband Network (NBN) is a federal network of fibre optic cables designed to provide high speed internet for all Australians. As of February 2023, NBN has been rolled out across most of Australia, but there are still areas that have not yet been connected. Using the rollout map, you’ll be able to find your address and see if you are able to connect to the NBN.

Asymmetric digital subscriber lines (ADSL) used to be the most commonly available type of fixed line broadband connection. ADSL uses copper wiring, which means data is not transferred as quickly as fibre optic cables. If you are in an area not yet connected to the NBN, you will probably be using ADSL for a fixed connection.

Wireless connection

Alternatively, the internet can be accessed through wireless technology, which uses radio waves to transmit data. This is either done through mobile broadband, which is essentially the same service you use when you connect to the internet on your smartphone, or a home wireless broadband plan, which tend to have greater bandwidth capabilities. Home wireless uses cellular technology, and is widely available across Australia. Anywhere you can get phone service, you should be able to get connected to the internet using 4G. The latest development in cellular technology, 5G, is still in the process of rolling out, so you’ll need to check if it is available for you.

Bundles and perks available

Internet plans can often be bundled in with other services. Electricity, TV and home phone are all examples of utilities that can be packaged in with internet plans, making both cheaper. Even if you already have providers for these services, it can be worth exploring the options available because there might be a spectacular deal available.

Some companies also offer extra perks that come with their internet plans. An internet plan with Optus for example, usually comes with a complementary Optus Sport subscription, while Telstra now offer a year of free Kayo Sports with many of its internet packages. Many providers have also teamed up with Fetch TV, which is a streaming and set top box service, to offer bundled internet and entertainment packages.

Extra fees and charges

When you are comparing how much plans will cost you, it’s important to remember the other charges that may apply beyond how much you are paying each month. For example, you may need to pay a fee for your modem, or the cost of a technician to come and get you connected to the NBN if your home is new.