Telstra vs Optus Broadband: Which plans are best for you?

Does Telstra or Optus get you more value for your money? Find out in this guide.

Broadband Offer

Telstra NBN Home Broadband Unlimited + Streaming Plan $99 24 Month

$99.00

Monthly

Min. Total Cost of $2475.00

Provider Logo
Unlimited

Data

40 Mbps

Typical peak evening speed



While there's no shortage of broadband providers to choose from these days, Optus and Telstra are still far and away the biggest names in the business. Not only are they the only companies to operate nation-wide cable broadband networks, together they control a large part of the country's ADSL infrastructure, a fact that kept smaller providers from competing in the ADSL space for a long time.

Compare Optus and Telstra's NBN plans

Compare Optus and Telstra's ADSL plans


Even with the neutrally-owned NBN rolling out across Australia, Telstra and Optus remain the go-to choices for reliable broadband. But that still leaves the question: Optus or Telstra? To answer that, let's break down what each has to offer.

Speed

If you've got the need for speed, both Telstra and Optus are equally capable of delivering the goods. On their ADSL plans, each serves up a maximum download speed of 20Mbps, though you'll likely see speeds much slower than that due to the way ADSL speeds degrade the further you live from your local telephone exchange. Nevertheless, you won't see much of a difference between Telstra and Optus' ADSL speeds.

Cable Internet is much the same. Both providers offer two speed tiers for their cable broadband plans: a 30Mbps tier and a 100Mbps tier. While cable speeds don't suffer the same degradation over distance that ADSL speeds do, network congestion can cause your speed to drop during peak Internet hours. Again, this is consistent across Telstra and Optus.

With the NBN, Telstra offers two NBN speeds without extra cost. On its Essential plan, you get a Standard NBN connection while on its Unlimited and Unlimited + Streaming plans, you get a Standard Plus NBN connection. If you want to get Premium NBN speeds, you'll need to spend an extra $30 a month. Optus, on the other hand, offers four speed tiers including Basic which, while slower than some existing ADSL connections, can be suitable for light Internet users looking for a cheap broadband option.

The NBN speed tiers don't tell the whole story, however. Practical performance can differ wildly from provider to provider due to factors like network congestion and how much bandwidth a provider has purchased from nbnco. This is why most NBN plans are accompanied by the "typical evening speed" you can expect to receive during the peak hours of 7:00PM to 11:00PM. Here, Telstra and Optus both claim identical typical evening speeds for their users across each NBN connection tier, so the speeds you see in practice should be much the same regardless of who you go with.

For offering more choice across its NBN plans, Optus has the edge in the speed department.

Data caps

Optus has a marked advantage over Telstra on the data front. All Optus' broadband plans come with unlimited data, saving you the hassle of monitoring your data usage every month. Telstra also offers unlimited data, but it's cheapest plan only includes 100GB. This gives Optus a slight edge.

Monthly costs

Once again, Optus has the edge over Telstra in the pricing comparison. Its two main plans clock in at $75 a month for unlimited data and pay-as-you-go calls, and $80 a month for unlimited data, pay-as-you-go calls, a Yes TV by Fetch subscription and a subscription to Optus Sport. These prices remain the same whether you sign up for an ADSL or basic 30Mbps cable connection.

Telstra's plans aren't quite as impressive. $69 a month will get you 100GB of data and pay-as-you-go calls with an ADSL or 30Mbps cable connection. To match Optus' unlimited data, meanwhile, you'll be looking at a minimum of $89 a month.

Optus retains its advantage with its NBN plans. For $75 a month, you'll get a Standard Plus NBN connection along with unlimited data and pay-as-you-go calls. A similar plan over at Telstra will set you back $89 a month instead.

At the high-end of the NBN spectrum, Telstra and Optus are neck and neck, both charging an additional $30 a month to upgrade to an NBN Premium connection.

Additional fees

ProviderActivation feeCasual feeEquipment charge
Optus (ADSL2+, NBN same with Bundles Month-to-month)$200$0$0
Optus (ADSL2+, NBN same with Bundles 24 Month)$0$0$0
Telstra (NBN same with Bundles Month-to-month)$240$0$0
Telstra (NBN same with Bundles 24 Month)$99$0$0

Bundles

Bundles play a large role in both Optus and Telstra's broadband business. For basic home phone bundles, Optus' price advantage makes it the clear winner, but Telstra turns things around on the entertainment front. Since Telstra owns 50% of Foxtel, it's able to bundle Foxtel Now into its Unlimited + Streaming broadband plans, getting you premium channels from across a variety of genres including drama, lifestyle and documentaries.

Matt Sayer

Matt is a writer covering the latest tech, telco and video game news at finder.com.au. In his downtime from helping Aussies make informed decisions on their broadband, mobile phone, and streaming video plans, he likes exploring rich video game worlds and kicking back with a good book.

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