Find out our expert picks for the best NBN plans this month.
What is LBN Co?
LBN Internet is a unique high-speed alternative to the NBN. But how does it compare to the NBN?
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While the NBN is something that nearly all Australians have heard of, you may not have heard of LBN. It's not a typo – LBN stands for Local Broadband Network.
What is LBN?
LBN Co is a premium competitor to the NBN, offering higher average speeds and reliability with its state-of-the-art fibre-optic technology. This private, fully independent network has serviced a smaller range of locations since 2007.
Most of its connections are for multi-apartments, retirement homes and broad-acre developments, so it's normal that it hasn't landed on your radar if you haven't moved to one of these areas.
Like the NBN, the LBN is a wholesale network that sells its infrastructure to Internet providers, who then sell plans to you, the customer, at a range of different prices and Internet speeds.
LBN vs NBN: What's the difference?
As a private company, the LBN offers a customer experience that is focused on stability and Internet performance in its select area of coverage. This is pretty different to the emphasis on affordability and access of the NBN.
As a snapshot, the key differences of the NBN and LBN are broken down below.
|✅ Faster average speeds||✅ Nationwide availability|
|✅ Less congestion||✅ Generally cheaper options|
|✅ Fibre-based network||✅ Gigabit Internet option|
|❌ Speeds can vary between providers||❌ Slower average speeds|
|❌ Limited providers||❌ Service quality varys heavily with connection type|
|❌ No Gigabit Internet option||❌ Value can be hard to track across providers|
Speed and performance
With a direct fibre connection to your household or building like FTTP and FTTB connections, the LBN high-speed network provides the excellent reliability and performance of the best NBN technology. It frees you from outside interruptions, like weather events and electrical interference, and significantly reduces lag when gaming or using cloud-based software.
With a 1:1 contention ratio, which means your location won't be fighting with anyone else for bandwidth, the LBN has the advantage of less congestion and no Internet sharing. This means LBN customers can expect higher typical evening speeds compared to customers with similar NBN plans.
Like most NBN plans, LBN Internet is offered by providers at different tiers of maximum speed from 12-250Mbps. While most NBN customers are limited to 100Mbps due to their connection technology, LBN customers can choose speeds based on what they're willing to pay.
With the NBN's introduction of Gigabit Internet to a smaller percentage of customers, the LBN lacks an equivalent 1000Mbps service. For most customers this won't matter too much as these speeds are only really needed for small to medium sized businesses.
It's important to understand that providers have no actual obligation to deliver typical speeds of the LBN, so typical evening speeds can differ quite significantly across different providers. Therefore, it's important to compare the advertised speeds of different providers to get the best performance available.
While the NBN has highlighted making high-speed broadband accessible and affordable, the LBN's limited service range is tailored to its fibre-optic technology, emphasising performance and reliability. This means along with a higher wholesale cost, there aren't as many providers competing on price for the LBN, so most LBN plans are priced slightly higher than NBN plans of the same speed.
As of January 2020, providers like Exetel have LBN Fibre100 plans for $109 a month, with $0 activation fees, which is $10 more expensive than its NBN100 plan of $99 a month, $0 activation fee.
Unlike the NBN, LBN prices aren't regulated by the ACCC. This can make prices quite varied, so it can still be helpful to shop around when it comes to your LBN plan to get the best speed-performance value available.
The LBN's primary use of optical fibre makes it stand out when compared to the different combination of connection types used by the NBN.
|Fixed Wireless (FTTN)||✅||❌|
Because LBN only deals with FTTP and FTTB, there is much more consistency in the LBN's service when it comes to speed, reliability and performance, as NBN Internet can be quite hit or miss depending on the connection type.
This is because optical fibre, being made of glass, has many clear benefits over copper wiring including bandwidth capacity, transmission speed and distance, security, and reliability.
With minimal amounts of copper used in the delivery of LBN Internet, the installations are also much easier as technicians won't necessarily have to visit your location.
With its focus on quality over quantity, access to the LBN can be a little narrow. While some providers operate Australia-wide, others are only in specific states. The list of providers on LBN's website has a combination of popular and smaller Internet providers, which we have listed below.
|Uniti Wireless||Harbour ISP|
|Active Utilities||Connected Australia|
|X Integration||Ultra ISP|
To find out what LBN plans and providers are available to you, you can search your address on your chosen provider's website.
Is there an alternative to the LBN?
Unfortunately, like all other fixed-broadband options, what you have is what you get. The LBN is still a small competitor in the market of broadband networks, with a considerably smaller coverage size, so chances are if you're moving out of an LBN location, your service will change.
If you don't mind going wireless, your options for home Internet open up a bit more and you can consider something like home wireless broadband.
With the simplicity of wireless Internet, all you really need is a modem from your provider if you're using home wireless broadband, a USB dongle, or even just your mobile phone, with no technician required.
The speeds you can get with wireless broadband generally range from 12 Mbps to 42 Mbps, depending on whether you have a 3G or 4G connection, which is lower than the fastest typical evening speeds for the NBN. For customers that just want to stream Netflix and browse online though, this is probably enough. But if you're sharing your connection with others, it's probably wise to upgrade to something a little faster.
The best choice for speed when it comes to wireless Internet would be a 5G home broadband connection, which Optus has introduced as part of its 5G rollout. Optus' 5G wireless broadband plan comes with a 50Mbps guarantee, which means it promises that you'll get at least 50Mbps speeds on its plan.
You'll need to be within Optus' 5G coverage area to sign up to this plan. 5G has the potential to hit 20Gbps, but as the rollout is still underway, you can expect speeds around 200Mbps instead.
Keep in mind that wireless Internet speeds vary a lot more than fixed-line Internet speeds. A number of factors can influence how fast your connection is, like the weather, your location and the mobile networks that are available to you. We'd recommend sticking to fixed-line options at home for more reliability.
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