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NBN vs wireless broadband

The NBN isn’t your only choice for Internet. Home wireless or mobile broadband could also solve your connection problems.

Wondering what your best bet for Internet is, or frustrated with your NBN connection? Wireless broadband can be a good alternative, depending on what you need. Here's a snapshot.

NBN is good for…

  • Those who need stable connections
  • Unlimited monthly data
  • Online gaming
  • Wide choice of speeds

Wireless broadband is good for…

  • Portability
  • Temporary Internet to tide you over
  • A solid alternative if your NBN connection is terrible
  • Getting fast 5G speeds

In this guide, we'll dive into both to help you figure out what will work for you.

What's the difference between the NBN and wireless broadband?

The NBN is fixed-line Internet, meaning it delivers data through the physical wires and cables connected to your house.

Wireless broadband is split into 2 types, but both use existing 3G, 4G and 5G mobile networks to transfer data, like the one your mobile phone uses.

The 2 versions are:

  1. Mobile broadband, which uses a portable modem or other SIM-capable device (like an iPad)
  2. Home wireless, which uses a larger modem that you place somewhere in your home

NBN vs wireless: An overview

Both NBN and wireless have their own ups and downs, meaning the one that's better will depend on your circumstances.

Here's an overview of their features, which we'll break down more in the following sections:

  • The bottom line: NBN is still the go-to for a decent home Internet connection, but if you're unhappy with it, home wireless or mobile broadband can be a great, affordable alternative. Plus, setup is usually easier.

Which connection is faster?

Most of the time, an NBN 50 or faster plan will be speedier than 4G wireless but slower than 5G. However, your NBN speed will be more consistent because:

  • Mobile signals are highly variable and are affected by weather, location and other factors
  • Fixed-line networks are prone to fewer interruptions because they rely upon static, protected cables, and not wireless signals

Wireless connections also tend to have a much higher latency than the NBN, which can affect gaming and video calls.

4G vs NBN speeds

The majority of home wireless and mobile broadband plans make use of 4G mobile networks, which are widespread throughout the country.

4G networks average about 38.5Mbps in Australia, with a maximum of 100Mbps.

The NBN is generally faster, with maximum speeds ranging from 12Mbps up to 100Mbps, depending on your Internet plan.

While faster NBN plans with speeds up to 1,000Mbps do exist, these aren't currently available to everyone and will depend on what connection type is available at your home.

  • The bottom line: If speed is important to you, the NBN has a slight edge over 4G wireless. It offers a more stable connection and generally faster speeds.

5G vs NBN speeds

Some wireless Internet providers now offer 5G on their plans. 5G speeds will depend on the provider, but average around 200-300Mbps.

5G coverage is currently more limited than 4G, so you'll need to check the provider's coverage area to see if you're eligible for a 5G wireless plan.

This makes 5G faster than all but the quickest NBN plans (with speeds of 1,000Mbps). However, your speeds might vary considerably depending on your location and other factors such as the weather.

  • The bottom line: 5G offers faster speeds than most NBN plans (unless you're willing to get an NBN 1,000 plan) but be prepared for a less stable connection.

Which one is cheaper?

It can be difficult to compare NBN alongside wireless plans because there are so many plans and providers offering both.

We've chosen to focus on Optus as it offers the widest range across the categories, with 4G and 5G home wireless, mobile broadband and NBN plans available.

To give you an idea on how prices differ between the plans, here's how Optus's own plans stack up against each other.

Prices and features of Optus plans are accurate as of 26 July 2021.

As you can see, 5G home wireless is comparable in price to Optus's NBN 100 plan, but again you may experience inconsistent speeds and connectivity.

Mobile broadband is significantly cheaper, but only offers a maximum of 150GB (including promotional bonus data), which may not be enough.

  • Good to know: Out of 5 providers that sell both NBN and home wireless plans, we found that home wireless was the same in cost or cheaper by up to $10 per month.

Keep in mind that some home wireless plans come with data caps (of around 500GB), or require you to sign up to contracts.

Which is better for more data?

According to NBN Co, the average Australian uses around 258GB of data per month.

Your actual data usage will vary depending on what you're doing online but this is a good number to keep in mind, especially if you're dealing with monthly data caps.

To compare:

  • NBN plans generally come with unlimited data. Some providers offer data-capped plans for a little cheaper if you're not a heavy Internet user.
  • Home wireless plans generally come with up to 500GB of data. You can only get unlimited data from iiNet, or Optus and SpinTel's 5G plans.
  • Mobile broadband offers a maximum of 500GB of data, but the great majority of plans offer 150GB or less.

If you're looking to get a data-capped wireless plan, keep in mind that excess usage charges may exist.

  • Home wireless plans will often cost you an extra $10 for each additional data pack you need to tide you over for the month.
  • Prepaid mobile broadband plans will cut you off when you reach your limit
  • Postpaid mobile broadband plans will often charge you $10 or so for each extra GB you use.

Currently, unlimited home wireless broadband plans only exist if you sign up for a 5G plan.

  • The bottom line: If you need unlimited data, NBN is your safest bet. Unlimited 5G home wireless plans do exist, but you'll need to check if you're within the coverage area first.

Is NBN or wireless right for me?

The answer to this question mostly depends on your situation and how you plan to use the Internet.

We've come up with various recommendations depending on what your primary need is.

Compare your Internet options

You can compare NBN, home wireless and mobile broadband plans below.

1 - 10 of 542
Name Product Data allowance Typical download speed Price Hid Compare Box!
TPG NBN50
NBN
Month-to-month
OFFER: $0/mth for the first month, then $79.99/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Ends 2.7.24
Finder Award
  • Month-to-month
  • BYO modem or purchase for $99.95
Unlimited Data
Data
Unlimited Data
50Mbps
nbn™50
Speed
50Mbps
nbn™50
$79.99
per month
Min total cost is $0 for first month
Price
$79.99 per month
Min total cost is $0 for first month
Superloop NBN Family
NBN
Month-to-month
OFFER: $69/mth for the first 6 months, then $85/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
  • Month-to-month
  • BYO modem or $0 modem if you stay connected for 18 months. T&Cs apply
Unlimited Data
Data
Unlimited Data
95Mbps
nbn™100
Speed
95Mbps
nbn™100
$69
per month
Min total cost is $69 for first month
Price
$69 per month
Min total cost (incl delivery + fees) is $69 for first month
Dodo NBN50
NBN
Month-to-month
OFFER: $65/mth for the first 6 months, then $80/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Ends 25.6.24
  • Month-to-month
  • BYO modem or purchase for $79. T&Cs apply
Unlimited Data
Data
Unlimited Data
50Mbps
nbn™50
Speed
50Mbps
nbn™50
$65
per month
Min total cost is $65 for first month
Price
$65 per month
Min total cost is $65 for first month
Tangerine NBN Value Plus
NBN
Month-to-month
OFFER: $59.90/mth for the first 6 months, then $79.90/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
Finder Award
  • Month-to-month
  • BYO modem or purchase from $129.90
Unlimited Data
Data
Unlimited Data
50Mbps
nbn™50
Speed
50Mbps
nbn™50
$59.90
per month
Min total cost is $59.90 for first month
Price
$59.90 per month
Min total cost is $59.90 for first month
Optus Plus Everyday Fast nbn®
NBN
Month-to-month
OFFER: Introductory offer: $89/mth for the first 6 months, normally $99/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
  • Month-to-month
  • Optus Ultra WiFi Modem Gen 2 included for $0 if you stay connected for 36 mths. T&Cs apply
Unlimited Data
Data
Unlimited Data
100Mbps
nbn™100
Speed
100Mbps
nbn™100
$89
per month
Min total cost is $395 for first month
Price
$89 per month
Min total cost (incl delivery + fees) is $395 for first month
Swoop NBN Home Everyday
NBN
Month-to-month
OFFER: $64/mth for the first 6 months, then $79/mth. Use code SUMMER15. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Ends 14.5.24
  • Month-to-month
  • BYO modem or purchase for $130
Unlimited Data
Data
Unlimited Data
50Mbps
nbn™50
Speed
50Mbps
nbn™50
$64
per month
Min total cost is $64 for first month
Price
$64 per month
Min total cost is $64 for first month
Southern Phone NBN Fast
NBN
Month-to-month
OFFER: $65/mth for the first 6 months, then $85/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Ends 25.6.24
  • Month-to-month
  • BYO modem or purchase for $156
Unlimited Data
Data
Unlimited Data
100Mbps
nbn™100
Speed
100Mbps
nbn™100
$65
per month
Min total cost is $65 for first month
Price
$65 per month
Min total cost is $65 for first month
Dodo NBN25
NBN
Month-to-month
OFFER: $60/mth for the first 6 months, then $65/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Ends 25.6.24
  • Month-to-month
  • BYO modem or purchase for $79. T&Cs apply
Unlimited Data
Data
Unlimited Data
25Mbps
nbn™25
Speed
25Mbps
nbn™25
$60
per month
Min total cost is $60 for first month
Price
$60 per month
Min total cost is $60 for first month
iiNet NBN100 Liimitless
NBN
Month-to-month
  • Month-to-month
  • BYO modem or $0 modem if you stay connected for 24 months. T&Cs apply
Unlimited Data
Data
Unlimited Data
97Mbps
nbn™100
Speed
97Mbps
nbn™100
$89.99
per month
Min total cost is $89.99 for first month
Price
$89.99 per month
Min total cost (incl delivery + fees) is $89.99 for first month
More Value Plus NBN
NBN
Month-to-month
OFFER: $70.40/mth for the first 12 months for CommBank customers, then $79.20/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Ends 31.8.24
  • Month-to-month
  • BYO modem or purchase from $129.90
Unlimited Data
Data
Unlimited Data
50Mbps
nbn™50
Speed
50Mbps
nbn™50
$88
per month
Min total cost is $88 for first month
Price
$88 per month
Min total cost is $88 for first month
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Name Product Data allowance Typical download speed Price Hid Compare Box!
TPG 4G Home Wireless
Home wireless
Vodafone network
Month-to-month
OFFER: $44.99/mth for the first 6 months, then $54.99/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply
  • Month-to-month
  • $0 modem if you stay connected for 24 months. T&Cs apply
Unlimited Data
Data
Unlimited Data
16Mbps
Speed
16Mbps
$44.99
per month
Min total cost is $44.99 for first month
Price
$44.99 per month
Min total cost (incl delivery + fees) is $44.99 for first month
iiNet Home Wireless Broadband
Home wireless
Vodafone network
Month-to-month
OFFER: $49.99/mth for the first 6 months, then $59.99/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
  • Month-to-month
  • $0 modem if you stay connected for 24 months. T&Cs apply
Unlimited Data
Data
Unlimited Data
15Mbps
Speed
15Mbps
$49.99
per month
Min total cost is $49.99 for first month
Price
$49.99 per month
Min total cost (incl delivery + fees) is $49.99 for first month
TPG 5G Home Broadband Plus
Home wireless
Vodafone network
Month-to-month
OFFER: $49.99/mth for the first 6 months, then $59.99/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
  • Month-to-month
  • $0 modem if you stay connected for 36 months. T&Cs apply
Unlimited Data
Data
Unlimited Data
50Mbps
Speed
50Mbps
$49.99
per month
Min total cost is $49.99 for first month
Price
$49.99 per month
Min total cost (incl delivery + fees) is $49.99 for first month
iiNet 5G Home Broadband Plus
Home wireless
Vodafone network
Month-to-month
OFFER: $49.99/mth for the first 6 months, then $59.99/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
  • Month-to-month
  • $0 modem if you stay connected for 36 months. T&Cs apply
Unlimited Data
Data
Unlimited Data
50Mbps
Speed
50Mbps
$49.99
per month
Min total cost is $49.99 for first month
Price
$49.99 per month
Min total cost (incl delivery + fees) is $49.99 for first month
Vodafone 4G Home Internet
Home wireless
Vodafone network
Month-to-month
OFFER: $50/mth for the first 6 months, then $60/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
  • Month-to-month
  • BYO modem or $0 modem if you stay connected for 24 months. T&Cs apply
Unlimited Data
Data
Unlimited Data
16Mbps
Speed
16Mbps
$50
per month
Min total cost is $50 for first month
Price
$50 per month
Min total cost (incl delivery + fees) is $50 for first month
TPG 5G Home Broadband Premium
Home wireless
Vodafone network
Month-to-month
OFFER: $54.99/mth for the first 6 months, then $64.99/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply
  • Month-to-month
  • $0 modem if you stay connected for 36 months. T&Cs apply
Unlimited Data
Data
Unlimited Data
100Mbps
Speed
100Mbps
$54.99
per month
Min total cost is $54.99 for first month
Price
$54.99 per month
Min total cost (incl delivery + fees) is $54.99 for first month
Vodafone 5G Home Internet Plus
Home wireless
Vodafone network
Month-to-month
OFFER: $55/mth for the first 6 months, then $65/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
  • Month-to-month
  • $0 modem if you stay connected for 36 months. T&Cs apply
Unlimited Data
Data
Unlimited Data
50Mbps
Speed
50Mbps
$55
per month
Min total cost is $55 for first month
Price
$55 per month
Min total cost (incl delivery + fees) is $55 for first month
iiNet 5G Home Broadband Premium
Home wireless
Vodafone network
Month-to-month
OFFER: $59.99/mth for the first 6 months, then $69.99/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
  • Month-to-month
  • $0 modem if you stay connected for 36 months. T&Cs apply
Unlimited Data
Data
Unlimited Data
100Mbps
Speed
100Mbps
$59.99
per month
Min total cost is $59.99 for first month
Price
$59.99 per month
Min total cost (incl delivery + fees) is $59.99 for first month
Vodafone 5G Home Internet Premium
Home wireless
Vodafone network
Month-to-month
OFFER: $60/mth for the first 6 months, then $70/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
  • Month-to-month
  • $0 modem if you stay connected for 36 months. T&Cs apply
Unlimited Data
Data
Unlimited Data
100Mbps
Speed
100Mbps
$60
per month
Min total cost is $60 for first month
Price
$60 per month
Min total cost (incl delivery + fees) is $60 for first month
Kogan 4G Home Internet
Home wireless
Vodafone network
90 Days contract
  • 90 Days expiry
  • Modem included
Unlimited Data
Data
Unlimited Data
16Mbps
Speed
16Mbps
$149.70
per 90 days
Min total cost is $149.70 over 90 days
Price
$149.70 per 90 days
Min total cost (incl delivery + fees) is $149.70 over 90 days
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Name Product Data allowance Typical download speed Price Hid Compare Box!
Vodafone SIM Only Modem Plan Small Data
Mobile broadband
Vodafone network
Month-to-month
  • Month-to-month
  • BYO modem
30GB
Data
30GB
4G
Speed
4G
$20
per month
Min total cost is $20 for first month
Price
$20 per month
Min total cost is $20 for first month
Vodafone 4G Prepaid SIM Starter Pack 35GB
Mobile broadband
Vodafone network
30 Days contract
OFFER: 60GB for the first 6 recharges, then 35GB/recharge. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Ends 10.11.24
  • 30 Days expiry
  • BYO modem
60GB
Data
60GB
4G
Speed
4G
$35
per 30 days
Min total cost is $35 over 30 days
Price
$35 per 30 days
Min total cost is $35 over 30 days
Vodafone SIM Only Modem Plan Large Data
Mobile broadband
Vodafone network
Month-to-month
  • Month-to-month
  • BYO modem
70GB
Data
70GB
4G
Speed
4G
$40
per month
Min total cost is $40 for first month
Price
$40 per month
Min total cost is $40 for first month
Vodafone 4G Prepaid Modem Starter Pack 60GB
Mobile broadband
Vodafone network
30 Days contract
  • 30 Days expiry
  • Modem cost $50
60GB
Data
60GB
4G
Speed
4G
$99
per 30 days
Min total cost is $99 over 30 days
Price
$99 per 30 days
Min total cost is $99 over 30 days
Vodafone 4G Prepaid SIM Starter Pack 85GB
Mobile broadband
Vodafone network
365 Days contract
OFFER: 110GB/recharge instead of 85GB/recharge when you stay connected with the plan. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
  • 365 Days expiry
  • BYO modem
110GB
Data
110GB
4G
Speed
4G
$160
per 365 days
Min total cost is $160 over 365 days
Price
$160 per 365 days
Min total cost is $160 over 365 days
Vodafone 4G Prepaid SIM Starter Pack 200GB
Mobile broadband
Vodafone network
365 Days contract
OFFER: 250GB/recharge instead of 200GB/recharge when you stay connected with the plan. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
  • 365 Days expiry
  • BYO modem
250GB
Data
250GB
4G
Speed
4G
$250
per 365 days
Min total cost is $250 over 365 days
Price
$250 per 365 days
Min total cost is $250 over 365 days
Lycamobile Data S
Mobile broadband
Wholesale Telstra network
28 Days contract
  • 28 Days expiry
  • BYO modem
1GB
Data
1GB
4G / 3G
Speed
4G / 3G
$5
per 28 days
Min total cost is $5 over 28 days
Price
$5 per 28 days
Min total cost is $5 over 28 days
Reward Mobile 500MB Data Plan
Mobile broadband
Vodafone network
Month-to-month
  • Month-to-month
  • BYO device
500MB
Data
500GB
4G
Speed
4G
$9.90
per month
Min total cost is $9.90 for first month
Price
$9.90 per month
Min total cost is $9.90 for first month
Alphacall 2GB Mobile Broadband
Mobile broadband
Wholesale Telstra network
Month-to-month
  • Month-to-month
  • BYO modem
2GB
Data
2GB
4G / 3G
Speed
4G / 3G
$10
per month
Min total cost is $10 for first month
Price
$10 per month
Min total cost is $10 for first month
Lycamobile Data M
Mobile broadband
Wholesale Telstra network
28 Days contract
  • 28 Days expiry
  • BYO modem
2GB
Data
2GB
4G / 3G
Speed
4G / 3G
$10
per 28 days
Min total cost is $10 over 28 days
Price
$10 per 28 days
Min total cost is $10 over 28 days
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