In Australia, there are only two ways to connect your home to the internet: use the National Broadband Network (NBN) or use a 4G/5G solution from a mobile telco.
The NBN should be your first port of call. If the technology available in your area is fast, it will be cheaper and more reliable than using a wireless solution. For example, in Sydney’s suburb of Maroubra where I live, the main NBN technology available is Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC), allowing maximum speeds close to 1000 megabits per second (Mbps), which is extremely fast. So in my case, using the NBN is a no brainer.
National Broadband Network (NBN)
The NBN is a wholesaler provider. This means that you need to choose a retailer provider (the ISP) which will provide you with an NBN retail plan.
When it comes to choosing an ISP, I have a very simple reasoning: since I work from home 100% of the time, I need a high speed connection with an ISP which provides an excellent level of service and support.
I am using a 1000 Mbps business connection with iiNet and I must say I couldn’t be happier with my choice. The speed I am getting throughout the day remains fairly constant and iiNet Business support is excellent. I get early notifications of planned NBN outages and they resolve issues very quickly when they do arise.
You might think that you don’t need that sort of speed but I can assure you that it will make your daily life easier. No more long waits to download updates on your devices. Even installing a large game of 30 GB takes only about 6 minutes (against one hour at 100 Mbps). Keep in mind that a 4K film on Netflix requires about 25 Mbps, so if two family members are watching 4K content at the same time, it will kill a 50 Mbps NBN connection (typical NBN plan). I recommend you choose at least a 100 Mbps plan.
iiNet offers 1000 Mbps plans only to business users. All you need is an Australian Business Number (ABN), so if you have one you should go for a business plan if you can get the extra speed. Yes it is more expensive but it is extra money well spent. You will also get priority business support and a fixed IP address (important if you are planning to run a web server at home like this one).
Upload speed is also important for: sending emails with large attachments, better quality of your outgoing video in zoom calls, sending your photos and videos to the cloud. Remember that videos created by the latest phones, GoPro and drones can be very large. If you are a YouTuber you’ll need fast upload speed!
You get what you pay for: although all ISPs offer the same NBN connection speeds, on the backend they also need to purchase capacity from the NBN. This means that cheaper ISPs will have less total capacity than more expensive ISPs and their performance at peak time (the evening when everybody is watching Netflix) is likely to suffer.
Fixed Wireless Broadband (4G/5G)
Fixed Wireless Broadband can be an attractive alternative to the NBN, if for whatever reason you cannot connect to the NBN or the NBN performance is poor.
I would recommend a 5G connection as it will provide speeds comparable to the NBN. If 5G is not available, you will have to fall back to 4G which will give you very variable speeds depending on where you live.
Note that all major telcos (Telstra, Optus, TPG) offer fixed line NBN plans with 4G backup: if the NBN service goes down, the router will fall back to slower 4G wireless connectivity. If you work from home, this is definitely something to consider as you need constant connectivity.