NBN providers with 4G backup modems

Plans with 4G backup let you stay connected even if your NBN connection cuts out, but not all providers offer it.


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4G backup is a peace-of-mind feature that you can safely ignore almost all the time, but when the NBN goes down you might be glad to have a way to stay online.

How does 4G backup work?

When there’s an NBN outage, a modem with 4G backup will switch over from your fixed line connection to a 4G mobile connection. This is the same type of connection your mobile phone has.

Even though 4G itself is capable of speeds up to 100Mbps, these backup connections are limited to 12Mbps, which is probably slower than your regular NBN plan. Still, 4G backup is useful to ensure your service never cuts out completely so you can still use the Internet during an NBN outage.

There are currently four NBN providers that sell home Internet plans with 4G backup in some form: Telstra, Vodafone, Optus and Tangerine Telecom.

Telstra NBN plans with 4G backup

All NBN plans from Telstra come with the Telstra Smart Modem, free for customers who stay on for 24 months.

Cancelling your plan before you’ve spent 24 months with Telstra will mean paying $9 for each month remaining out of 24.

The 4G backup will switch on automatically when the NBN has an outage, but you’ll be restricted to download speeds of 12Mbps and upload speeds of 1Mbps. If you’re on Telstra’s 500GB plan, keep in mind that data used on the backup connection will count towards your total usage.

Vodafone NBN plans with 4G backup

Vodafone’s NBN plans come with the Vodafone Wi-Fi hub, which is free if you stay on your Vodafone plan for 36 months.

If you don’t stay for the full 36 months, you’ll pay $5 for each month under 36.

Like with Telstra, you’ll be limited to download speeds of 12Mbps and upload speeds of 1Mbps. Unlike Telstra, you have to call up Vodafone to have the 4G backup activated, since it won’t activate automatically.

Optus NBN plans with 4G backup

Similar to Telstra, Optus’s Ultra WiFi Modem automatically switches over to 4G backup if the NBN is suffering an outage.

The maximum speed you’ll get while on backup is capped at 12Mbps download and 1Mbps upload.

The modem will be free if you stay signed up to Optus for 36 months, but if you leave before then you’ll pay $7 for each month remaining out of 36.

Tangerine NBN plans with 4G backup

Tangerine is the only smaller provider so far to offer 4G backup, but it’s not an automatic inclusion on all its plans. Instead, you have to purchase the specially designated 4G backup modem for $189.90 and then pay a further $15 per month for the backup Internet.

If you’d like a 4G backup modem with Tangerine, make sure you choose it in the sign-up process once you click the green “Go to site” button.

Unlike the bigger providers, your total backup data is capped at 30GB per month and you’ll be restricted to speeds of 12Mbps for downloads and uploads. Tangerine uses the Optus mobile network for its 4G.

Alternatives to 4G backup modems

If none of these options appeal to you but you still want a backup in case of NBN outages, you might want to consider mobile broadband or a data only SIM plan. This is a separate plan that you can use with a device or portable modem and have access to full 4G speeds, instead of those capped backup speeds.

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