What Internet do I need for working from home?

Find out the ideal speed and plan type for working from home.

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With twice as many Australians working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 30% hoping they can continue to do so once it's passed, working from home is more common than ever – and generally you need a broadband plan to do so.

Here's a rough idea of what NBN plan you should aim for, depending on how many people will be working from home simultaneously:

What Internet connection do I need for working from home?

This will vary but for most Australians, the best Internet connection for working from home will be fixed-line NBN. These are reliable and widely available, and best of all, you may already have the right connection.

There are two main factors to consider: number of people working from home and what activities you'll be doing while working. Data isn't really a factor since the majority of plans you'll be looking at provide unlimited data.

Number of people working from home

Internet connections are like water being delivered through a pipe – the more water one person is using, the less remains for everyone else. Your plan's maximum speed will be split between everyone who's online at once.

  • For 1 or 2 people, an NBN50 plan will usually be enough.
  • For 3 or more people, an NBN100 plan may be needed to ensure everyone has a fast, working connection and doesn't experience slowdown.

Type of online activities

Not all activities are equal, and some require faster speeds than others. We've broken down common working from home activities into categories based on the connection speed they require.

For reference, an NBN50 plan will give you up to 50Mbps to share between all the online activities of everyone using the Internet in your house.

ActivityConnection speed requiredUsage category
Emails, basic browsing1MbpsLow
Collaboration software (e.g. Slack, Basecamp)1MbpsLow
Video conferencing1.5 - 5MbpsMedium
Video streaming5MbpsMedium
Retrieving files from the cloud/downloading large files~10-25MbpsHigh

If you only ever do activities in the "low" usage category and are the only person working from home on your connection, you may be able to get away with an NBN25 connection. However, for anything else, NBN50 or NBN100 would be more appropriate, depending on your household size.

NBN50 (Standard) plans

NBN50 plans are our default recommendation for those working from home. They should allow you to do most of what you need without frustrating slowdown or connection problems.

  • Up to 50Mbps download/20Mbps upload
  • Supports 1 or 2 people working from home
  • Allows for simultaneous streaming and conferencing

NBN100 (Fast) plans

If you have too many people or especially high speed requirements, NBN100 may be required. Be aware that most NBN100 plans these days have max 20Mbps uploads by default, although some offer up to 40Mbps.

  • Up to 100Mbps download/20bps or 40Mbps upload (depending on plan)
  • Supports 3+ people working from home
  • Allows for quickly downloading large files and cloud sharing

What if I need a higher upload speed?

While a cheaper NBN100 plan with 20Mbps upload speed may be enough for most people, you may need faster uploads if you:

  • Stream video on platforms like YouTube or Twitch
  • Host large video conferences
  • Regularly deliver huge project files to clients (e.g. graphical design, video work)

If this is you, you'll want to make sure you get an NBN100 plan with a maximum of 40Mbps upload speed to keep up.

Can I claim back broadband expenses when working from home?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has put in place a special shortcut method for claiming working from home expenses, including your broadband bill. We've broken this method down for you here.

What is typical evening speed and why does it matter?

You may notice that plans on provider pages or the Broadband Finder quote a typical evening speed. This is the speed you can expect to get during busy periods when everyone is online, and is a great indicator of how reliable your Internet connection will be.

While picking a plan with a high typical evening speed is important in general, it's even more important if you're likely to be working more towards the evening. Otherwise, you might find your connection slows significantly, impacting your work.

What if I want a home phone?

If you're not planning to work at home for the long run or you can easily get by using an existing mobile number, a home phone is likely not important. However, if you're after a fixed line, there are tons of providers who will set you up with a home phone on your NBN plan.

Alternatives to the NBN

If you don't have access to a fixed-line NBN connection or you aren't happy with what you've got, you can consider a home wireless plan instead. These:

  • Provide an Internet connection via the same mobile networks your phone uses
  • Mostly provides 4G speeds, but 5G speeds are available, making it potentially faster than the NBN
  • More reliable than mobile broadband thanks to a large, static modem placed in your house

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