Telstra vs Optus cable plans comparison

Telstra and Optus are currently your primary options for cable Internet, and here's how they stack up.

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Telstra vs Optus

Cable Internet occupies an odd place in the Australian broadband landscape. As part of the Multi-Technology Mix approach to the NBN, nbn will be acquiring the cable from Optus and Telstra and using it to deliver high-speed internet to customers in areas the infrastructure currently exists, rather than rolling out new fibre connections.

Currently, only parts of the country with HFC infrastructure can use it to connect to the NBN, while the rest can still only access cable internet through the two companies that built the cable networks, Telstra and Optus, and the two networks don't always overlap.

That means that even if you live within Telstra's cable network, you won't necessarily have access to Optus' network as well.

That said, if you are fortunate enough to live somewhere served by both Optus and Telstra's cable networks, you'll want to compare both providers' cable plans to determine which one is best for you. To do that, let's take a look at the key factors.

Speed

Internet speed is one area where both Telstra and Optus break even. Each provider offers two tiers of cable connection: a basic connection with a maximum download speed of 30Mbps and a speed boost connection with a maximum download speed of 100Mbps. However, it's important to remember that those speeds are theoretical maximums and can be affected by factors like network congestion. Your actual download speeds may be lower no matter which tier or provider you go with.

Data

Optus has a clear edge on monthly data allowances for cable Internet plans. Where Telstra institutes data caps ranging from a measly 50GB to a maximum of 2,000GB, Optus offers unlimited data on all its cable Internet plans. Even if you're not a download fiend, the freedom of never worrying about exceeding your monthly limit makes Optus' approach far more attractive.

Price

Price is another factor Optus has in its favour. $60 a month with the telco will get you a 30Mbps cable connection with unlimited data and pay-as-you-go calls, while $80 a month will add in a subscription to Optus Sport, a Fetch Mighty set-top box and access to a single Fetch channel pack of your choice. If you'd prefer a standalone broadband service without home phone line rental, you'll be looking at $80 a month for 30Mbps and unlimited data. Best of all, these prices are the same whether you choose a 24-month or a month-to-month contract.

Telstra's plans, meanwhile, start at $80 a month for a 30Mbps cable connection with 500GB of monthly data and pay-as-you-go calls and increase to $90 a month if you want a 1,000GB monthly data cap. If you're looking to bundle in some entertainment with your Internet, $99 a month will get you 1,000GB of data plus a Telstra TV set-top box, while $120 a month will score you 2,000GB of data along with a subscription to Foxtel's Entertainment package. Telstra also charges a premium if you opt for a month-to-month contract instead of a 24-month contract, increasing your bill by as much as $15 a month.

Optus maintains its price advantage beyond the monthly bill, too. Not only do all Optus cable plans come with a free Wi-Fi modem, there are no setup fees if you sign up on a 24-month contract. However, on a month-to-month contract, you'll be looking at a one-off sign-up fee of $200.

This is significantly cheaper than signing up with Telstra. All Telstra cable plans incur an $89 activation fee if you're a new Telstra customer, and month-to-month contracts come with an additional $120 casual fee plus a $168 charge for the mandatory Telstra Home Network Gateway device. This works out at a potential $369 upfront charge on top of the monthly cost of your plan.

Bundles

The only area where Telstra outperforms Optus is in its bundling options, and that's thanks solely to its Foxtel Entertainment package. With more than 45 Foxtel channels spanning news, drama, lifestyle and kids shows, the Entertainment pack offers a sizeable slice of the Foxtel catalogue to complement your cable Internet. That said, it would still work out cheaper to sign up to Optus cable for $80 a month and purchase the $26-a-month Foxtel Entertainment pack separately than fork out the $120 a month for Telstra's Foxtel bundle.

Outside of Foxtel, Optus' Yes TV by Fetch bundle handily beats out Telstra's Telstra TV bundle. Where Yes TV by Fetch includes your choice of live premium TV channels like Comedy Central and Syfy, Telstra TV merely acts as a set-top box for accessing services like Netflix or Stan – provided you're already paying for them, that is.


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