Clear Broadband: NBN plans compared

Clear Broadband specialises in providing satellite and fixed wireless broadband services to rural and regional Australia.

While there's no shortage of telcos providing NBN connections to the metro residents of Australia, rural Aussies have far less choice for their high-speed Internet. Clear Broadband aims to remedy this by offering an extensive range of NBN plans delivered over satellite and fixed wireless connections as well as fixed-line fibre connections, enabling far-flung Aussies to enjoy swift Internet speeds even from remote locations.

Clear Broadband satellite NBN plans

Using the NBN Sky Muster service, Clear Broadband's satellite plans support both Basic and Standard NBN connections. Data caps range from 60GB total on-peak/off-peak up to 280GB total on-peak/off-peak, while available contract lengths span from month-to-month up to 24 months. Like most providers, Clear Broadband defines on-peak from 7:00am to 1:00am and off-peak from 1:00am to 7:00am.

Monthly pricing for Basic speed plans starts at $34.95 and tops out at $199.95. Upgrading to a faster Standard NBN connection costs an additional $5 a month on all Clear Broadband's satellite plans.

Clear Broadband divides its satellite plans into two categories: Standard and Nite. Standard plans balance both on-peak and off-peak data caps while Nite plans sacrifice the more-expensive on-peak data for larger off-peak data caps.

All Clear Broadband's satellite plans come without installation or activation fees, regardless of your chosen contract length. Signing up for a long-term contract will score you a discount on a Wi-Fi router if you need to bundle one in with your plan, but that discount comes at a cost: cancel a 12- or 24-month contract before its full term is up, and you'll have to pay out the minimum monthly cost for every month remaining on the contract.

For more information on what extras Clear Broadband offers with its broadband plans, click here.

Clear Broadband fixed wireless plans

Available in less-remote areas of regional Australia, fixed wireless NBN connections typically offer faster and more stable Internet than satellite connections can muster. To houses located within range of a suitable transmission tower, Clear Broadband offers fixed wireless services at both Basic and Standard NBN speed tiers, with data caps starting at 60GB and going all the way up to unlimited monthly data.

Clear Broadband has five Basic speed fixed wireless plans, each of which can be upgraded to a Standard NBN connection for $10 extra a month.

  • NBN Wireless 60, which includes 60GB of data for $39.95 a month
  • NBN Wireless 120, which includes 120GB of data for $44.95 a month
  • NBN Wireless 250, which includes 250GB of data for $49.95 a month
  • NBN Wireless 500, which includes 500GB of data for $59.95 a month
  • NBN Wireless Unlimited, which includes unlimited data for $69.95 a month

Fixed wireless plans are available on month-to-month, 12-month, 24-month and 36-month contracts. Monthly pricing is the same across all terms, but setup costs aren't: on a month-to-month contract, you'll be looking at a $129 installation fee and on a 12-month contract, it's reduced to $59. Both 24- and 36-month contracts have $0 setup fees and come with a discount for the routers Clear Broadband sells should you need to purchase one.

Bear in mind that signing up for a 12-, 24- or 36-month contract with Clear Broadband is a big commitment. Should you want to cancel your service part-way through your contract, you'll still have to pay out the full cost of the monthly bills remaining on your fixed term. This could be in excess of $1000 in some cases.

For more information on what extras Clear Broadband offers with its broadband plans, click here.

Clear Broadband fixed-line NBN plans

Alongside its regionally-focused satellite and fixed wireless plans, Clear Broadband also offers standard fixed-line NBN connections delivered using fibre to the premises (FTTP) technology. This means you won't be eligible for Clear Broadband's fixed-line service if you live in an area serviced by fibre to the node (FTTN), fibre to the building (FTTB) or hybrid-fibre coaxial (HFC) technologies.

These plans support all four tiers of NBN speeds, from a Basic NBN connection up to a high-speed Premium NBN connection.

Clear Broadband's fixed-line NBN plans come in five variants based on their included monthly data. This is how they look coupled with an entry-level Basic NBN connection:

  • NBN Fibre 60, which includes 60GB of data for $39.95 a month
  • NBN Fibre 120, which includes 120GB of data for $44.95 a month
  • NBN Fibre 250, which includes 250GB of data for $49.95 a month
  • NBN Fibre 500, which includes 500GB of data for $59.95 a month
  • NBN Fibre Unlimited/1000, which includes unlimited* data for $69.95 a month

*On Standard Plus and Premium NBN connections, Clear Broadband replaces its unlimited data cap with a 1000GB data cap instead.

Upgrading to a faster speed tier costs the same across all five plans. For a Standard connection, it's $10 extra a month; for a Standard Plus connection, it's $20 extra a month; and for a Premium connection, it's $30 extra a month.

All Clear Broadband's fixed-line NBN plans are available on month-to-month, 12-month, 24-month or 36-month contracts. While the monthly bill remains the same on all four, initial setup costs vary significantly. On a month-to-month contract, you'll need to pony up a one-off fee of $129. This drops to $59 on a 12-month contract.

Both 24- and 36-month contracts, meanwhile, waive the setup fee. There is a catch, though: cancel any of Clear Broadband's fixed-term contracts before its end date, and you'll have to pay an early termination fee equal to the number of months remaining multiplied by the minimum monthly cost.

For more information on what extras Clear Broadband offers with its broadband plans, click here.

Clear Broadband extras

Thankfully, you won't have to worry about excess usage charges if you go over your monthly download cap on any of Clear Broadband's NBN plans. Regardless of connection type, Clear Broadband will slow your Internet speed to 128kbps for the rest of the month as soon as you use up all that month's data. If you can't wait until the end of the month for your cap to reset, you can purchase additional data blocks for more browsing allowance, valid for that month only.

Clear Broadband operates a voice over IP (VoIP) phone service for use with its broadband plans. At its most basic, the service includes pay-as-you-go calls for $6.95 extra a month, while $39.95 extra a month gets you unlimited local and national calls and $49.95 extra a month packs unlimited local and national calls as well as international calls to select countries.

If you need a router for sharing your new Internet connection across multiple devices, Clear Broadband currently offers two different NBN-compatible models: the Netcomm NF10WV and the TP-Link TL-WR841N. Retailing for $139 and $57.95 respectively, the main difference between the two is their support for wireless spectrums: the Netcomm router can operate on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands at the same time, while the TP-Link router is limited to just 2.4GHz.

How does Clear Broadband compare?

With its focus on serving rural and regional Australia, Clear Broadband's fiercest competition comes mostly from providers like SkyMesh, IPSTAR, Reachnet and Southern Phone. Clear Broadband's experience in wireless communications serves it well here, and its satellite plans number among the best-value on the market.

Note: Due to the hefty early cancellation fees associated with Clear Broadband's long-term contracts and the fact monthly costs are consistent regardless of contract length, the below comparisons are based on month-to-month contracts only.

How do Clear Broadband's satellite NBN plans compare?

Clear Broadband is right up there with the top providers in the satellite broadband space. Like competitors SkyMesh, IPSTAR and Harbour ISP, Clear Broadband charges no setup fees on its satellite plans. Coupled with its no-lock-in, month-to-month contracts, this makes it easy to try out its satellite service without committing long-term or forfeiting a hefty installation fee.

Looking at Clear Broadband's 115GB plan, which offers the best dollars-to-data ratio of all its satellite plans, only SkyMesh manages to outdo it on the raw value front. Where Clear Broadband's plan comes with 45GB of on-peak data and 70GB of off-peak data for $44.95 a month, SkyMesh asks the same price for 45GB of on-peak data and 140GB of off-peak data. If you're something of a night owl or you plan on leaving your computer on downloading overnight, SkyMesh's offering is the one to go for.

Still, Clear Broadband tops most other contenders in this space. IPSTAR, Reachnet and Southern Phone all offer less peak-time data for your dollar, and neither IPSTAR nor Reachnet allow you to bundle in a phone service with your plan.

For those with larger data appetites, Clear Broadband doesn't deliver quite as much value for money. Its $69.95 150GB plan, for instance, gets pipped by SkyMesh's 210GB plan, Ant Communications' 220GB plan and Reachnet's 170GB plan, all of which are priced at the same monthly rate. Meanwhile, IPSTAR's 175GB offering clocks in at $5 cheaper a month and includes 5GB of additional on-peak data:

At the premium tier of satellite plans, Clear Broadband slips way behind the competition. The largest data cap it offers is a 140GB/140GB on-peak/off-peak split for a hefty $199.95 a month, whereas Reachnet prices its 150GB/150GB plan for just $115 a month. IPSTAR's similar offering is only $10 behind that at $125 a month, and even Harbour ISP's $150 plan works out drastically cheaper than what Clear Broadband is offering.

Although the comparisons above use pricing based on Basic NBN speed plans, the conclusions hold true for Standard NBN speed plans, too, since most providers charge the same $5 a month extra to upgrade to the faster speed.

How do Clear Broadband's fixed wireless plans compare?

Despite aligning with Clear Broadband's rural focus, fixed wireless NBN isn't the provider's strong suit. While it does offer a greater variety of data caps than most of its competitors, its pricing leaves something to be desired.

This is less evident at lower price ranges largely thanks to a lack of competition. Clear Broadband's 120GB plan, for instance, has no direct comparison as most providers choose to offer 100GB or 200GB plans instead. As such, it sits in the middle of the pack, neither as compelling as Activ8me's cheaper 100GB plan nor as lacking as NuSkope's more expensive 100GB plan.

Once you start looking at Clear Broadband's larger fixed wireless plans, there's no getting around it: the value on offer simply doesn't come close to the competition. Providers like Flip TV, SpinTel and Hello Broadband price their unlimited data plans cheaper than not just Clear Broadband's unlimited plan, but its 500GB capped plan too.

Even if you decide to go the capped route, SpinTel offers a 500GB plan bundled with a pay-as-you-go phone service for $10 cheaper than Clear Broadband's standalone plan.

How do Clear Broadband's fixed-line NBN plans compare?

Clear Broadband's focus on serving regional and rural areas of Australia leaves it ill-equipped in the fixed-line NBN space. It certainly offers a greater variety of data caps than most providers do, but the pricing on these plans does not align with what the competition is charging.

Comparing plans aimed at light Internet users, Clear Broadband's $39.95 60GB plan only lags slightly behind the leaders of the space. Exetel, for instance, offers a 100GB plan for the same price, while IPSTAR has a 50GB plan for $5 less a month. SpinTel and Dodo, meanwhile, bundle in a pay-as-you-go phone service with their 50GB plans, giving you for free what Clear Broadband charges $6.95 a month for.

It's the larger data caps that Clear Broadband struggles with most, though. Where it's asking $59.95 a month for its 500GB plan, SpinTel and Exetel charge a full $10 less per month for the same amount of data. Not to mention SpinTel bundles in a pay-as-you-go phone service for free, too.

The gap gets even wider at the unlimited data tier. Providers like Flip TV, SpinTel and Exetel price their plans as much as $20 less a month than Clear Broadband, bundling in phone services and charging lower setup fees to boot. The real stinger comes at the higher Standard Plus and Premium speed tiers; here, Clear Broadband replaces the unlimited data cap with a 1000GB cap, a move that undermines the reason you'd purchase a superfast Internet connection in the first place.