Sick of waiting for the NBN? Is unreliable FTTN letting you down? You don’t need to settle for a crappy connection, there are other options. There are two main NBN alternatives worth considering: home wireless broadband and mobile broadband. They’re each powered by 4G mobile networks, but they’re also kind of different. But in both cases, we’re now seeing plans with over 200GB. That might not quite be enough to replace a home internet connection for everyone, but it’s a huge step up over the tiny allowances we used to see on data-only mobile plans. Here’s what you need to know about home wireless broadband and mobile broadband, and the best plans for both.
Home Wireless Broadband
Home wireless broadband is essentially 4G-powered internet designed to replace your traditional fixed line connection; whether it’s ADSL, Cable, or NBN. Home wireless broadband plans tend to have allowances upward of 200GB starting at around $40 per month. When compared to mobile broadband, the trade-off is capped download speeds (in most cases) and a little less flexibility. Home wireless broadband plans are designed to be used at home. As such, the modems require a constant source of power. You can easily plug it in at a new location and get back online instantly, though.
On the plus side, this also means the modems are tend to have better features, and include extras that you’d never see on a portable hotspot, like multiple gigabit Ethernet ports. The bulk of home wireless broadband plans have their speeds capped at 12Mbps. That’s equivalent to a basic NBN connection, but still potentially faster than ADSL. Exetel, SpinTel, Yomojo, and Moose Mobile all offer home wireless broadband plans. These plans are all pretty similar: you’ll pay around $40 per month for a 250GB allowance. These plans are all available on a no-contract basis – the main difference is the upfront fees. SpinTel and Exetel are the cheapest, at $39.95 and $39.99 per month respectively, with a $99 modem payment. All the aforementioned home wireless broadband providers are powered by the Optus network and use the same modem, so performance should be comparable no matter who you sign up with. If you want faster home wireless broadband, Optus has you covered. $60 per month gets you a 200GB allowance, or $80 per month gets you 500GB.
These home wireless broadband plans are the only ones that operate at ‘full Optus 4G’ speeds, but exact performance can depend on a number of factors, such as coverage and network congestion.
We’ve experienced download speeds between 20Mbps and 100Mbps when testing out Optus’ Home Wireless kit. It may also be possible to bump these higher using an external antenna. These plans are available on a 24-month contract, or a month-to-month basis. If you go for the no-contract option, you’ll pay $192 upfront for the modem.
As you might expect from the name, mobile broadband is an internet connection pretty similar to the connectivity you get on your phone. It’s powered by 4G networks, and pricing and data allowances aren’t dissimilar to what you’d get on a standard mobile plan. When compared to home wireless broadband, the trade-off is small data allowances and a higher price tag. However, you do get uncapped 4G speeds and mobile broadband connections tend to have more flexibility. Mobile broadband dongles and portable hotspots tend to be battery-powered, so they’re a great travel companion.
Alternatively, you can get a bring-your-own-device mobile broadband plan and throw the SIM in your own hotspot, tablet, or even a spare phone.