Home wireless broadband

If you've got a strong mobile signal, wireless broadband (including 5G) is now a strong NBN alternative.

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While the NBN is considered the 'norm' when it comes to a home Internet connection, if you find your NBN connection type just isn't giving you the speeds your after, there are other options out there.

Home wireless broadband uses mobile networks to get you connected to the Internet. There are no wires involved - you simply plug your modem in, and you're good to go.

Compare home wireless broadband plans here

What is home wireless broadband?

Home wireless broadband connects you to the Internet by using mobile phone networks. All you need is a modem from your Internet provider and a power source, then you're good to go. No more waiting around for an installation technician to get you hooked up. Once your modem is working, you can connect your devices to it as you normally would via Wi-Fi.

What's the difference between home wireless broadband and mobile broadband?

Photo of a modem - the main difference between home wireless broadband and mobile broadband is their difference in modem types and sizes
Image of inserting a modem into your laptop - this is a common example of how mobile broadband works, with the use of a dongle or other smaller modem device to get you connected to the Internet

Mobile broadband works similarly to home wireless broadband, in that it relies on mobile networks for connectivity. It uses portable hotspots as well as dongles (USB modem) to get you connected 'on the go'. Prices for mobile broadband plans can be a little more compared to home wireless broadband and data allowance is also usually significantly less.

Home wireless broadband uses a full-sized modem which you can get from your chosen Internet provider, but will be bigger in size compared to the equipment you use for mobile broadband. That's because home wireless broadband is intended to be an alternative home Internet solution rather than an easy travel option. It generally has higher data allowances and is much better suited towards heavy data users with most plans ranging from 200GB to 500GB, and even unlimited data options from Optus.

Home wireless broadband vs tethering your phone connection

Home wireless broadband vs tethering your phone connection

Tethering your phone is essentially using your phone as a modem and connecting it to another device for it to use your mobile data either through a hotspot, Bluetooth connection or USB port. It's similar to home wireless broadband in that it allows you to have Internet access wherever you are, as long as you've got mobile coverage. As you don't have a separate modem to use, tethering your phone connection can drain your phone's battery since it's being used as the modem. It's also not the best home Internet solution since you'll be eating into your mobile's data plan, so it's better used as a quick fix option when you're somewhere without accessible Wi-Fi.

Home wireless broadband vs a normal home Internet connection

Your usual home Internet connection types include NBN, ADSL, cable and satellite. What they all have in common is that they're fixed to the address you submit when you sign up for a plan. Standard broadband delivers Internet to you via your phone line or your provider's network of cables. These are run through a router, which then allows you to connect your devices through Wi-Fi or ethernet cable.

On the other hand, as home wireless broadband uses mobile networks instead of cables and phone lines to get you an Internet connection, it means you can use it outside of your home as long as you've got the modem with you. As coverage can vary depending on location, home wireless broadband may not be as reliable as standard broadband. It all comes down to how and where you plan to use your Internet connection and which type of broadband suits your needs better.

How does home wireless broadband fare in terms of cost?

Prices for home wireless broadband plans range from $50 to $80 a month, depending on how fast you'd like your connection to be and your data usage. Most plans offer at least 200GB, which is usually enough for small households of 1–2 people for a month.

Compared to mobile broadband plans, home wireless broadband comes up a little bit cheaper while still affording many of the similar capabilities of mobile broadband. But it'll work out to be more expensive than your standard fixed line plans like NBN and ADSL, as you're paying slightly more for the convenience of taking your connection with you anywhere (provided you have network coverage and a power source).

How fast is home wireless broadband?

Generally speaking, speeds for home wireless broadband can get up to 42Mbps, but cheaper plans will often cap download speeds at 12Mbps, which is just a bit faster than the lowest typical evening speed available for NBN. It'll be enough to stream Netflix and do your regular online browsing, but if you're sharing your connection with more than a few people, you're probably better off paying a little bit extra for faster speeds.

Optus is the winner here in terms of speed with their introduction of a 5G connection option as they roll out their 5G network across the country. The Optus 5G wireless broadband plan boasts a 50Mbps satisfaction guarantee, meaning they promise to deliver download speeds of at least 50Mbps which rivals some of the faster speeds offered by NBN connections. But don't get too excited just yet! Optus's 5G network isn't available everywhere so make sure you check out whether your address is within the coverage area before you sign up.

Update: Optus has made its 5G network open to MVNOs for home wireless broadband plans, which means you'll gradually see more 5G options appear on the market. So far, Spintel has added a new set of 5G home wireless plans to its line-up, with more to follow suit. We'll update our plan listings in the table above as it happens.

Should I get home wireless broadband?

The convenience and flexibility of home wireless broadband makes it an attractive choice for those looking for an easy-to-use Internet connection that isn't cemented to a single location. Renters who need to move homes frequently due to factors such as short leases may prefer a home wireless broadband connection over traditional fixed line plans.

The modems used for your home wireless broadband can be taken wherever you're going, so long as your provider has sufficient coverage in the area. Network signals can change depending on where you're located so it may be a good idea to try a no-contract plan first, which allows you the option to switch if you need to.

Pros and cons

  • Convenient modem means you can take your connection wherever you go, as long as there's a power source to plug in your modem and network coverage in your area.
  • Simple "plug and play" set-up with instructions from your provider so there's no need to arrange for a technician to come over for installation.
  • No-lock-in contracts available to give you the freedom of choosing when you want to stop using it.
  • Plans can be more expensive than standard fixed line plans, such as NBN and ADSL.
  • Some providers limit the speed to 12Mbps which can affect how fast your content loads.
  • Coverage depends on mobile signal strength so check with your provider before using it in your area.

Providers of home wireless broadband

There are currently 6 providers of home wireless broadband in Australia - Optus, Spintel, Exetel, Southern Phone, Tangerine and Yomojo. While the prices of their plans may vary, the data allowances between them range from 200GB to 500GB options, or even unlimited data usage if you choose the route of Optus or Spintel's 5G wireless broadband plan. Each provider will equip you with a modem and instructions to get you connected ASAP. Keep in mind when choosing between providers that some of them have speed limitations, which may affect how fast you can load the content you're after.

Home wireless broadband plans

Here's the breakdown of the various home wireless broadband plans offered by each provider:

  • Optus - 200GB for $65 per month, or 500GB for $85 per month, on 24-month or month-to-month contract. Unlimited 5G plan also available for $70 per month.
  • Southern Phone - 200GB for $50, or 500GB for $70 per month, on a 24-month contract.
  • Exetel - 250GB for $69 per month, on 12-month or month-to-month contract.
  • Spintel - 200GB for $49.95 per month, or 500GB for $74.95, on a 12-month contract. Prices increase by $10 a month for a month-to-month contract. Bundled calls are available for an additional $10.
  • Tangerine - 200GB for $59.90, or 500GB for $69.90 per month, with no lock-in contract. Prices increase by $10 a month after 6 months.
  • Yomojo - 200GB for $59.90, or 500GB for $79.90 per month, with no lock-in contract.

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