Aussies ignoring 5G: Here’s what you’re missing out on

Posted: 30 June 2021 9:41 am
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Almost half of Australians have no interest in 5G on their mobile, but its speeds for your home Internet connection are worth a hot glance.

Many Australians couldn't care less about 5G, the newest mobile network promising blazing fast speeds and better performance.

A Finder survey of over 800 people found that almost half of the respondents didn't have 5G on their phones and didn't want it.

But even if you aren't sold on 5G for your mobile, it's proving itself to be one of the best alternatives to the NBN when it comes to home Internet. This might pique your interest if you're working from home most of the time, are big on gaming and downloads or have a big household.

Luckily, Telstra's 5G network already reaches 75% of Australians, with Optus and Vodafone hot on its heels. It's likely you have access to 5G already if you're with 1 of the 3 telco giants.

5G vs NBN

This is good news for anyone who's unhappy with their NBN connection or thinks it could be better.

5G home wireless connects to the Internet via the same mobile network your phone uses, while fixed-line NBN uses physical cables and wires to transmit data.

The downside is while the NBN is rarely down, the 5G network's signal strength can change based on weather, location and other factors, so your speed and connection can vary.

So, who's 5G good for? We speak to Finder's editor-at-large and telco expert, Angus Kidman, to find out.

5G is potentially a sensible choice for renters, especially if you're on a short-term lease. But remember: reception might not be as good the next time you move.

5G speeds in Australia giving NBN a run for its money

Current 5G speeds depend on the provider, but average around 200–300Mbps in Australia. For example, Optus scored an average of 310Mbps on a Speedtest report in April 2021.

In comparison, the NBN has top speeds between 12 and 250Mbps, depending on the plan you buy.

While 1,000Mbps NBN plans do exist, they are significantly more expensive and only available to people with specific connections – Fibre to the Premises and some Hybrid Fibre Coaxial customers.

If the speeds seem too good to be true, it's likely because the uptake for 5G isn't as high as it could be.

"As more people get onto 5G, we can expect performance to deteriorate," Kidman explains.

"The speeds you're getting now are unlikely to be so strong in a year's time, even though 5G will handle multiple users better than its predecessors."

But isn't 5G expensive?

It's difficult to make a direct price comparison, since there are so many plans and providers offering both 5G and NBN.

However, you could say 5G home wireless will cost you the same or less than most NBN 100 plans and a little more than NBN 50.

For example, Optus's basic 5G home wireless plan costs $75 per month for unlimited data, but your download speeds get capped at 100Mbps.

In comparison, an NBN 100 plan from Optus will cost you at least $95 per month, making 5G the cheaper option in this case.

What's the catch?

If consistently good speeds are important to you, even after you've hit your data limit, then 5G may not be for you.

"The real reason NBN remains the best choice for most households is that virtually all data plans are unlimited," Kidman says.

"You just don't see that with mobile plans – if you have an 'unlimited' offer, the speed will drop drastically once you hit the cap.

"Data usage goes up over time, and the rising popularity of streaming is fuelling that trend even more."

Interested in 5G? You can compare 5G home wireless plans or find the right mobile plan for your needs by comparing 45+ providers in 1 place.

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