As one of Australia’s biggest internet providers, Optus has long been a go-to choice for broadband. The company’s dominance in the market wasn’t all that surprising back in the days when high-speed broadband meant a choice between two cable providers, Optus or Telstra, with where you lived determining which one you could get. Even then, Optus was offering TV services as an optional extra, and these days that’s an even more important selling point via both Optus Sport and Fetch TV.
The arrival of the NBN has changed the broadband landscape entirely, though, and while it hasn’t completely levelled the playing field, it has allowed many more companies to deliver high-speed broadband plans at comparable prices – and often the main differences come down to the extras you get with your chosen plan.
We’re going to take a look at the best broadband plans Optus currently has on offer, and then we’ll compare them to some of the other key internet providers, to help decide whether their plans or pricing might make it worth your while to shop around.
What Does Optus Broadband Have to Offer?
One of the benefits to going with a company as large as Optus is the scale at which they operate – it opens up the opportunity both for lower prices and value-added bundles. And while there was a time when Optus had a large range of NBN broadband plans for potential customers to pick and choose from, these days things are a lot simpler and easier to navigate.
Optus essentially has only two NBN plans offered as bundles, and one stand-alone “just broadband” plan which doesn’t represent great value for money. The cheaper plan bundles only have a home phone line with pay-as-you-go calls, and at $70 a month for an NBN50 connection it would seem, on the surface, like reasonable value. However, neither of Optus’s entertainment options is included – you’ll be up for an extra $15/month for Optus Sport (an exclusive streaming service that’s a mecca for soccer fans) and $5/month for a Fetch TV Mini. You also see a very large price jump if you want to up the speed to the top 100 Mbps speed – $100/month. Now, that’s in the ballpark of what other companies are charging, but many are cheaper and offer more, as we’ll see later.
Optus’s headline bundle is a $90/month option which includes home phone with unlimited Australian calls, a subscription to Optus Sport included, and the advanced Fetch Mighty box which can stream all your favourite stuff and act as a digital video recorder for your TV. This bundle bumps up to $120/month for 100 Mbps but there’s good value here (especially if you’re keen on what Optus Sport has to offer). The plans are available month-to-month, too, with a modest increase in the set-up fee the only downside, making these plans great for renters.
What are the Best Optus Broadband Alternatives?
Once upon a time, plans like those listed above would’ve seemed like a bit of an obvious go-to pick if you were interested in getting NBN broadband set up with everything you need for phone calls and streaming. But there’s much more choice around these days, and like we’ve always said, it does pay to spend some time comparing a few of the other offers in what is now a very vibrant and competitive market.
The main thing we’d recommend is sticking to companies that have experience in the field. While the arrival of the NBN has brought with it a number of fresh new companies selling NBN services, the resources needed to run an internet provider well are far from trivial. You’ll want to stay far away from problems like the dreaded evening peak congestion (mostly a thing of the past at large providers now, though even Optus promises average speeds only 80% of the advertised plan speed at peak times). And with new NBN plans just around the corner potentially putting 1000 Mbps (gigabit) speeds within your reach, you’ll want a provider that’s got the bandwidth to handle it.
Optus has tied itself very closely to Fetch TV, but they’re not the only game in town when it comes to getting entertainment bundled in with your broadband. Top of the list for us are Telstra’s terrific entertainment bundles, which are bolstered by the company’s well-designed and speedy network. Telstra quotes higher average peak speeds than most, and while you’ll be paying a little more, for many people the combination of reliability and extras may be well worth it. For example, the three bundles we’re mentioning here come with a Telstra Smart Modem that offers automatic 4G backup, free of charge. If your NBN goes down for any reason, the Smart Modem keeps you online.
So your options, then, are a $99/month package that gives you the Telstra TV 3 streaming box, one of the best-reviewed streaming devices on the market, a phone line with unlimited calls, the first month of internet fee of charge and no setup fee. Or if you’d prefer to go all-out with the entertainment, for $140/month you get a choice of two bundles that include a full Foxtel install with Foxtel Plus (over 50 channels including Fox Showcase, home of HBO) and either Sports HD or Movies HD. Sports fans in particular will want this deal – just in time for the new footy seasons!
If you’re set on Fetch TV, though, Aussie Broadband has a great plan with 100 Mbps broadband and both a Fetch Mini and Mighty box so you can stream recordings to two rooms. There’s no phone calls or streaming subscriptions included, but if that’s fine for your needs, it’s great value with one of Australia’s fastest NBN providers at $114/month.
Last audited 14 September 2020
Lower Cost Alternatives
Sometimes, we don’t want to go all-out on expensive broadband when all we plan to do with it is basic web surfing and the occasional show or movie on Netflix. Going all-out on even a 50 Mbps plan might seem like an indulgence – but we’re seeing more and more providers dropping their slower, lower-cost plans. Fortunately, much-respected Aussie provider Southern Phone hasn’t forgotten that people like to have choices, and if 12 Mbps is more than enough speed for you, they’re one of the few providers who’ve stuck with that lowest NBN speed tier to cater for people with modest broadband needs and budgets.
Their NBN Small Bundle is only $60 a month, but comes with a free wi-fi modem and a phone line with unlimited calls to Aussie landlines. It only offers 100GB data – again, plenty for low-volume users – but if you want unlimited data, another $10 will get it for you.
Not to be outdone, the folks at Belong Broadband have made things even cheaper, as long as you’re okay with a 12-month contract (if not, that’s okay too, you’ll just pay a little more). Their Starter plan (which quotes 30 Mbps download, but we suspect it’s probably a 25 Mbps plan) only costs $55/month, with 50 Mbps only a little more at $65/month. Belong uses the Telstra network, but prioritises value over raw speed. It’s pretty stunning value, but the catch is that unlike Southern Phone’s plans, Belong’s don’t come with a home phone line at all. That’ll suit many people just fine, and they do throw in a mobile SIM with $80 credit when you sign up, handy for getting set up if you’ve just moved house.
Last audited 14 September 2020
Alternatives for Gamers
One of the things most dependent on a good, fast and reliable broadband connection is online gaming, and with the mammoth popularity of massive hits like Fortnite and Call of Duty there’s a ton of demand for broadband plans with some sort of promise of quality. Nothing ruins a gaming session faster than lag or disconnections, and with many internet providers optimising their networks more for general use and streaming, it’s not always a good time for gamers with a regular broadband plan.
That’s where MyRepublic has stepped in with their Gamer Pro plans, which recently saw a new 50 Mbps option added at a reduced price. Gamer Pro promises super-fast top speeds, a network optimised for low latency and with live latency tracking, a static IP address (usually those cost around $10 a month from other providers) and specialist gamer support. That 50 Mbps plan is $79/month, and there are now two 100 Mbps plans at $99 and $109 (the latter has faster upload speed, which is crucial for anyone who wants to stream their game sessions on Twitch, Mixer or YouTube). They even throw in a high-quality modem and (on the 100 Mbps plans) a Sennheiser gaming headset for a dollar each.
Last audited 09 September 2020
Wireless Broadband Alternatives
Not everyone is easily able to get set up with wired NBN broadband; for some, it’s because they’re moving house too regularly. For others, it can simply be because they live too far from the nearest NBN cables or even a 4G mobile tower. The NBN has solutions for much of this, in the form of fixed wireless and “Sky Muster” satellite services.
Southern Phone offers a wide range of satellite plans for those in remote areas, ranging from a basic service for low-volume users at $38/month all the way up to full-speed Sky Muster Plus services starting at $70.
And for those within range of a decent 4G (or 5G) mobile signal, the options are even better. Southern Phone does 4G broadband as well (starting at just $15 a month for 7GB, better value than many) but you’ll find a wealth of choice in mobile broadband at Telstra, where you can add one of the latest devices to a mobile broadband plan including the latest super-fast 5G hub from HTC, surprisingly well-priced when paid out over 36 months – and of course, your mobile broadband service moves with you wherever you go. You can, of course, also buy a 4G or 5G modem or hub outright, and keep the freedom to switch plans whenever you like.
Last audited 14 September 2020
The Choice is Yours!
As you can see, it’s well worth exploring the many different providers, plans and bundles on offer rather than just heading straight for the familiar brand name. Optus has set up some very well-priced plans and with its huge customer base, has the resources to keep prices low and the service at a reasonably high quality. But explore further and you’ll find providers and plans that may suit your needs – and your budget – a whole lot better. As always, compare and save!