Telstra vs Optus cable plans comparison

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

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Compare Telstra and Optus cable plans


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 Co is acquiring the existing cable network from Optus and Telstra and using it to deliver high-speed Internet instead of rolling out new fibre connections.

Currently, only select parts of the HFC network have been hooked up to the NBN. Much of the HFC infrastructure remains under the purview of Optus and Telstra, both of which continue to offer cable broadband as a standalone service.

Because Optus and Telstra operate on separate cable networks, the two don't necessarily 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 where Telstra has a notable edge on Optus. Each provider offers two tiers of cable connection: a basic connection with a maximum download speed of 50Mbps and a speed boost connection with a maximum download speed of 100Mbps. Where Telstra's advantage comes in is on the upload side: Telstra's basic connection supports up to 5Mbps uploads whereas Optus only offers up to 2Mbps uploads. If you spend a lot of time uploading videos or other large files, that difference could be the deciding factor in who to go with.

Of course, 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 slight edge on monthly data allowances for cable Internet plans. Where Telstra's plans start at 200GB of data per month, all Optus' cable plans include unlimited monthly data. Telstra offers unlimited data plans as well, but these come at a premium as you'll see in the next section.

Even if you're not a download fiend, the freedom of never worrying about exceeding your monthly limit makes Optus' approach more attractive.

Price

Price is another factor Optus has in its favour. $70 a month with the telco will get you a 50Mbps cable connection with unlimited data and unlimited standard local, national and mobile calls, while $90 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 $70 a month for 50Mbps 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 $75 a month for a 50Mbps cable connection with 200GB of monthly data plus unlimited local, national and mobile calls. That increases to $90 a month if you want to get rid of the monthly data cap. If you're looking to bundle in some entertainment with your Internet, $99 a month will get you unlimited data plus a Telstra TV set-top box along with credit to spend on movies through Telstra TV Box Office.

Optus loses some of its price advantage beyond the monthly bill. While all Optus cable plans come with a free Wi-Fi modem, you'll have to pay a $99 set-up fee if you sign up on a 24-month contract. On a month-to-month contract, that fee increases to $200.

Set-up fees are slightly more expensive when signing up with Telstra. All new Telstra customers will face a $99 activation fee, and new and existing customers will have to fork out $216 for a Telstra Wi-Fi modem as part of their contract.

Bundles

Telstra outperforms Optus in its bundling options, and that's thanks solely to its Foxtel package. With plenty of premium channels spanning news, drama, lifestyle and kids shows, the Internet + Foxtel pack offers a sizeable slice of the Foxtel catalogue to complement your cable Internet. That said, it can still work out cheaper to sign up to Optus cable and purchase a Foxtel subscription separately rather than go all-in with Telstra.

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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