Benefits of unlimited NBN plans
The faster your Internet connection, the quicker you’ll reach your data limit. Switching to a high speed NBN plan could result in your existing data allowance running out a lot faster. The good news is that unlimited NBN plans are becoming a much more standard offering from ISPs, so you can get unlimited data at a lower cost.
Once you exceed your monthly data allowance, your provider might slow your connection to a barely-usable 64-256kb crawl. Outstanding Internet providers will offer free data top-ups that replenish your monthly data allowance for the rest of the billing period. Participating providers usually offer this life-saving feature two to three times a year. Unlimited plans can free you from this worry entirely. By shopping around a bit you might get them even cheaper than capped plans.
Do you need an unlimited data allowance on the NBN?
If you’re looking at plans in the 50GB to 200GB range, which are generally for those who only occasionally use the Internet or only use it for sending emails and browsing the Internet, it’s probably not worth upgrading all the way to an unlimited quota plan.
If you’re an individual or small family who is using the Internet for basic activities (web browsing, very light YouTube usage, emails etc) then a 50GB-200GB plan should be sufficient. If your browsing activities involve high definition/4K video streaming or large file downloads, then you should consider a plan with 500GB or more, and that’s where an unlimited plan can make a lot of sense.
For 500GB or 1,000GB plans, you might find prices to be fairly similar to unlimited plans and may want to consider simply going unlimited.
Here are the main reasons why you should consider an unlimited broadband plan:
- No speed throttling. You can enjoy the thrill of browsing the Internet without the fear of your provider slowing your speed down.
- You can commit to longer contracts. With unlimited plans, you have the certainty of knowing you haven’t picked a plan with a data allowance that is too low. You can confidently sign onto a cost-effective long-term contract for potentially enormous savings.
- You’re future-proofed. Imagine getting a new Ultra-HD streaming TV set only to discover that it quickly chews through the limits of your Internet plan. Choosing an unlimited plan lets you avoid exceeding your data cap and provides the peace of mind that your data limit will keep up with your lifestyle.
Do you need unlimited calls on your broadband plan?
If you know you don’t want or need a phone bundle, then you might want to specifically look for a pay-as-you-go phone bundle, or one with no included phone plan, to help keep costs down. However, if you make a lot of calls, it can be well worth looking for a plan that offers unlimited broadband with unlimited bundled phone calls. With many providers you won’t have a choice but to get a phone bundle in order to get the plan you want.
There are typically three different types of phone packages: phone calls to fixed lines only, phone calls to fixed lines and mobile phones, and phone calls to both fixed line and mobile phones as well as international calls to selected countries.
- If you work from home or are running a small business, phone packages can be useful. Having a fixed-line service not only provides your customers with a reliable point of contact but also allows you to reach clients throughout the country and worldwide.
- Unlimited calls can also be very convenient for the same reason as an unlimited plan. With both unlimited calls and unlimited Internet, you can simply “set and forget” in a way you can’t with other options. Similar to the Internet, you might find yourself making a lot more calls on a more generous plan.
- One of the main reasons an unlimited calling package could benefit you is if you’re frequently making overseas calls. If you are only making phone calls to fixed lines and mobiles within Australia, then a standard mobile plan will suffice.
For a lot of people, these freedoms are well worth spending a bit more. For others, you might want to compare the costs of calls with different plans and consider whether unlimited phone bundles are worth it given your typical monthly usage.
The most data intensive activities for Internet browsing
As time passes, it gets a lot easier to use a lot more data. The following are the most data-intensive activities on the Internet. Some of them, like 4K streaming, were relatively rare less than three years ago, but are now significantly more common.
Think about how many people are in your household, how many devices are being used and whether a 500GB plan will consistently be able to last a full month.
- 4K streaming - 25Mbps. Also known as Ultra HD streaming, this kind of clarity is now widely available and fairly affordable. Typically using 25Mbps, this means it can potentially run through about 1GB of data in just 40 seconds of viewing. Multiply this usage by the number of devices streaming in your household and consider the possibility of Ultra HD YouTube videos and other media in the next two years.
- Downloading/uploading files. A single game download can easily go over 50GB these days, while downloading an hour-long TV episode in low-end 720p quality will still use well over 1GB. High quality photos and online videos can also rapidly churn through data thanks to the ease of viewing. Uploading also counts towards your limits and sending videos and photos in particular might bring you close to the limits of a capped plan.
- Backing up your data to the cloud. This is especially important for business purposes, but it is useful for personal purposes too. The amount of data used by cloud backups depends on a range of circumstances. For example, a wedding videographer who works from home could easily run through 100GB+ per week, while someone using it just to back up their music collection would have considerably lower usage.
- Video calls. As with other video usage, this depends on the quality, which is affected by your webcam and streaming method. While its data use is relatively light compared to other streaming, someone who wants to make multi-hour calls on a near-daily basis might quickly use a lot of data.
- Gaming. Playing an online game by itself doesn’t generally use a lot of data, but downloading them can. With game sizes of 50GB to 100GB becoming more common, and downloading now being the main way of buying games, one enthusiastic video gamer in your household might very easily be responsible for 50GB-100GB of data use each month.
- Web hosting. If you’re hosting a personal or business website from your premises, then every time someone views your site you’ll be uploading that data to them. For example, ten visitors who each access 50MB of site content will use 500MB altogether. Consider how important your site is to you and how likely it is that there will be sudden traffic influxes of hundreds, or thousands, of visitors to your site. If this happens with a limited plan, you might suddenly find yourself at the cap, even if it’s just the start of the month. External web hosting services, or unlimited plans, might be a good idea in this situation.
What are my other options?
Typical other plan sizes include the following:
- 1,000GB: Some providers might offer this as their largest option.
- 500GB: This is a relatively large plan. With some providers, this might be the next step down from unlimited.
- 200GB: This is a relatively small plan for substantial personal use rather than household use.
- 100GB: This is a very limited plan that might suit a household with very limited Internet use
- 50GB and less: These are the smallest plans available and are generally for those who rarely use the Internet or only use it for web browsing, social media, emailing and other low-data activities.
Example: Compare unlimited plans between
Let’s walk through some of the larger and faster plans available from different providers to see how they can vary. Some of the main factors to consider include the following:
- Price. How much does it cost per month, and what are the associated fees?
- Limit. Is it capped or unlimited?
- Speed. How fast is the plan? 100Mbps is generally the fastest available, but typically carries higher prices and may not be available in all areas.
- Bundling. Are there unlimited broadband-only plans available or do you have to get a phone bundle for the plan you want?
To compare apples with apples, we’ve capped the limited NBN plan examples to $80 or less. The following plans only include PAYG phone calls.
|NBN Provider||NBN plan example|
There’s a lot of variation between plans, and a range of providers to choose from.
If you’re interested in an unlimited plan it can be worth shopping around to find the right one for you. If you’re looking at 500GB or 1,000GB plans, it is worth considering unlimited plans since there is not much difference in plan price.