How to test your NBN speed

woman testing NBN speed on laptop and phone at home

Frustrated with slow internet? Does your NBN speed feel like it’s not up to scratch? 

We’ve got good news: you can test it! 

Depending on how you use your NBN, whether it’s to stream Netflix, scroll through Instagram or work from home, it’s crucial you have an internet speed that matches you and your family’s usage. 

This handy guide will give you the ins and outs of testing your NBN speed and help you see if you have the right product to suit you!   

First, a quick refresh on what the NBN is and how it works?

NBN stands for ‘national broadband network’ and is intended to provide Australians with access to a speedy internet connection. It’s a government owned and operated network which is resold to the public through ‘retail service providers’ (RSPs), which includes many of Australia’s biggest internet providers.

In other words, to access the NBN as a customer, you must sign up with an independent NBN provider. You can’t gain access to the NBN directly. There are a range of different internet service providers (ISPs) that can connect you to the NBN, from big names like Telstra, TPG, Dodo and Belong to smaller brands like Spintel and MyRepublic. Last year, the Mozo’s Expert Judges weighed up a total of 105 NBN retailers on the market to find what’s best for Aussie customers right now. 

Take a look at the 2020 Mozo Experts Choice Award winners for NBN from the top Premium to Standard Plus and Standard Plan offerings out there. Whichever provider you choose, you may be provided with a router or modem as part of your plan, which allows you to connect to the NBN once it’s available at your property. This equipment may not always be the most capable however, so it’s worth keeping this in mind if you do take it. If you are unsure whether your home has NBN access, you can check your address online. 

So, how do I check my NBN speed?

Checking your NBN speed can be simple, but it’s important to get an idea of what it is exactly you are looking for before you start. 

When you first signed up with your NBN provider, you would have selected a speed-tier for your plan, such as NBN 100/20. These numbers indicate the maximum download and upload speeds (respectively) you’ll be able to hit with your connection. However, the catch is that the tier refers to the maximum speeds, so your NBN may not be operating at these speeds at all times. 

The common download speeds offered by NBN are 12, 25, 50, 100, 250 and 1,000 Megabits per second (Mbps) for residential customers. Keep in mind that not all ISPs have a full suite of speed offerings when it comes to their NBN plans. Some may only offer the slower options while others may provide the faster alternatives. 

To check your NBN speed, we have an easy tool you can use. By hitting the below “start test” button you can run a diagnostic on your current connection. This will give you a rundown of your download and upload speed in Mbps, as well as other figures about your connection.

You can run the test as many times as you like, which may be handy for getting a more accurate reading of your NBN speed. Here are some useful tips for running your test: 

  • Connect your device directly to the modem or router if you can (using an Ethernet cable) 
  • Stop any downloads, streams or other data-heavy programs 
  • If using Wi-Fi, move your device close to the router to increase the strength of the signal 

If you face any issues with your NBN speed test, such as largely inconsistent readings, you may need to reboot your modem. Just note that it’s unlikely your results will be exactly the same as the ‘speed number’ you were sold by your ISP. But, in saying that, it should be within the same ballpark. 

Can I speed up my NBN? 

There are a range of things that impact the speed of your NBN connection. This could include the number of devices being used, the volume of active tasks at the one time (such as streaming, gaming, social media use etc) and the type of connection you have. 

You may find that reducing the collective usage of your connection at the one time may speed up your internet. However, if you are in a household that requires multiple devices on the same network simultaneously, you may need to consider upgrading to a faster plan to support that type of usage. This may also mean you need to change providers. 

Similarly, there are different physical types of NBN connections, which can impact the speed of your broadband. They are as follows: 

  • Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) 
  • Fibre to the Node (FTTN) 
  • Fibre to the Building/Basement (FTTB) 
  • Fibre to the Curb (FTTC) 
  • Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial (HFC)  
  • Fixed Wireless 
  • Satellite 

So, depending on which connection type you have, you may be receiving slower internet. For example, FTTP is one of the fastest NBN options because it runs a fibre-optic cable directly to the property, but it is the least common type of wired connection. On the other hand, FTTN is more common but may be slower, as the fibre-optic line may only run to the end of a street or collection of streets, with the last section using copper phone wiring. What this means is the further you are away from the central location, the more likely it is that your internet connection will be slower than what your ISP advertised.

If you have any concerns about the speed of your NBN, you can contact your ISP and they can help you with any further troubleshooting tips. 

What is a good NBN speed?

As mentioned, the current speed available for consumer NBN plans range from 12 to 1,000 Mbps. But how do you know which NBN speed is right for you? 

Let’s find out … 

First up, it’s important to note that ISPs are required to advertise what is known as a “typical evening speed”. This refers to the approximate average download speed during the busiest time of day, when most people are at home and using the internet for things like streaming. 

However, this speed may vary and can actually be higher during less busy periods. 

As part of the 2020 Mozo Experts Choice Awards, we categorised NBN plans into the following categories: 

  • Standard (NBN 25): These types of plans have an advertised maximum speed of 25 Mbps and often have an average typical evening speed of around 20.5 Mbps. Customers that use the internet for things like emails, social media, general browsing and basic streaming would benefit from this low-cost option. 
  • Standard Plus (NBN 50): As a slightly more expensive but faster version of NBN plan with a maximum speed of 50 Mbps, customers can expect an average typical evening speed between 41.7 Mbps. This speed is suitable for things like basic movies & music downloads, gaming, video calls and HD streaming. 
  • Premium (NBN 100): If you are after the cream of the crop when it comes to NBN speed, a Premium plan should be right up your alley. As the fastest option, these plans come with the biggest price tag. They would suit a customer who works from home or a small business, as well as for intensive gaming and HD streaming with large upload and download capabilities. Speeds are advertised as 100Mbps but customers should expect an average typical evening speed of 80.4 Mbps. 

Since the 2020 awards, two higher speed tiers have also become widely available:

  • Superfast (NBN 250): Advertising speeds up to 250 Mbps and an average evening speed of 212.8 Mbps, this type of plan is suitable for households that often have five or more people online at once. It supports things like the concurrent use of 4K and 8K video streaming, fast gaming updates and downloading larger files. 
  • Ultrafast (NBN 1000): A step up from the already speedy Superfast NBN connection, Ultrafast is suited for the ultimate internet user and tech lover. With advertised speeds up to 1000 Mbps and average evening night speed of 337.5 Mbps, this tier supports all of the abovementioned usage as well as prepares a household for new technologies set to hit the market.

Who offers the fastest NBN in Australia? 

As mentioned, some ISPs’ premium NBN plans offer speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps. But what’s the point of opting for a fast internet plan if the provider isn’t reliable. 

So the question is, which NBN provider is the most reliable? 

Each quarter, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) weighs up a bunch of NBN providers to determine which ISP is sticking to their promised speeds. 

The providers compared relate to FTTP, FTTB, FTTC, FTTN and HFC connections. 

Here’s which NBN providers were rated as the most reliable as of March 2021:

Graphic of ACCC’s comparison of NBN speeds offered by provider
Graphic of ACCC’s comparison of NBN speeds offered by provider 2

Want to find out more about NBN? Head to our NBN hub for all the info you need!