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NBN or 5G? Complete guide for choosing faster internet speeds

Wednesday, December 23, 2020 by eFax Team

NBN or 5G? Complete guide for choosing faster internet speeds

Australian business owners and tech enthusiasts are privileged that they have multiple connectivity options in the NBN spectrum and the fast-growing 5G network. With both technologies offering multiple ways to connect users to the internet, how do you decide which one’s for you? Choosing between NBN or 5G does not pose a straightforward answer and therefore we’ll be comparing both contestants on a series of important factors: Speed, Availability, and Price.

Is NBN 5G?

Common misconceptions about 5G is that it is the same as NBN and only offers slight upgrades. That’s false. Here are a few key points that you should know before reading more:

  • 5G is a part of today's modern technology and completely different compared to NBN. It’s the 5th generation of mobile networks and aims to connect the world wirelessly.

  • NBN is based primarily on physical connections, while offering wireless coverage in areas difficult to reach physically. 

  • NBN exists almost everywhere in Australia, while 5G is just beginning to deploy its infrastructure.

NBN Technology: Explained

The NBN rollout that began in 2007 was designed as the largest infrastructure development project in Australia’s history. It aims to replace the existing copper cable network that is nearing the end of its expiry.

The aim of NBN was to not only provide adequate internet access to all of Australia, but also to provide more services than what the existing ADSL infrastructure offered. Since its inception, it has steadily arrived in almost every part of Australia wherever ADSL exists.

Once NBN arrives in an area, customers have the option to switch from ADSL to NBN over the course of 18 months. After that, ADSL will no longer be available. Customers who do not opt for another plan are not automatically given any other internet service. Therefore, it’s essential that you plan ahead and avoid getting disconnected.

So, what’s the difference between ADSL and NBN? To put it simply, NBN advertises minimum speeds of 25 Mbps and the maximum limit of ADSL is 24 Mbps. Essentially, NBN begins its speed where ADSL can no longer cope. NBN provides a modern hardware change and that’s what allows this leap in speeds.

With NBN, connectivity comes in the form of Fibre To The Premises (FTTP), Fibre To The Curb (FTTC), Fibre To The Node (FTTN), Fibre To The Building (FTTB), and more.

FTTP offers the greatest potential speeds that can go upto 1 Gbps with minimal fluctuations. However, FTTP availability is extremely limited. As of September 2020, only 18% of Australian’s will have access to it. With FTTN (most readily available), the speeds range from 25-100 Mbps. The slowest speeds are expected during peak hours and with FTTN, speeds can dip below the minimum advertised value (25 Mbps) in extreme cases.

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Does Australia have 5G yet?

The introduction of 5G in Australia promises speeds many times greater than NBN connections, just as reliable, greater stability, and significantly reduced latency.

Australian telcos have begun rolling out 5G infrastructure and users can catch 5G signals if they’re within the range of a tower. Optus, Telstra, and Vodafone have initiated constructing towers, whilst also making sure that they include more areas regularly.

To see if your address falls within 5G coverage of the 3 providers, use this map.

If your area currently doesn't support 5G, do not be worried. It can take a good while, even years, for the service to become as mainstream as 4G. If you’re unsure about the coverage in your area, it’s best to contact your service provider directly and get confirmation on when they plan to launch. 

If your area will get 5G within the next few months, it’s a wise decision to upgrade to a 5G phone. If that’s not happening and you don’t travel to areas with 5G, we suggest holding off on this purchase.

When it comes to coverage, NBN has the outright advantage and wins in this category. It had a 13-year jumpstart on 5G and that has allowed it to reach 99% completion. As of now, approximately only 100,000 people are still waiting for an NBN connection. The rest of Australia only needs to call their service provider for a connection.

Is 5G faster than NBN?

In short, yes.

Theoretically, users can experience download speeds of upto 20 gbps. The actual speeds that a user will experience will vary on factors including signal strength, network configuration, amount of traffic, and the device they use.

To use these speeds, you need a compatible 5G phone.

The best speeds you can expect from an NBN connection are upto 1 Gbps. For that to occur you'll need ideal conditions, which unfortunately most users might never experience.

5G offers a minimum of 100 Mbps. To put that into perspective, minimum 5G speeds are the absolute maximum of what the majority of NBN connections offer. That means wherever you are, you can expect 5G speeds to outperform your average NBN connection on any given day.

Due to the unavailability of high-end NBN connections in most areas, users can expect equal or better performance. In some cases, this could occur with 4G networks as well.

This table shows the maximum download speeds a user can experience on different networks.

Connection type

Maximum speed

5G

20 Gbps

NBN - FTTP

1 Gbps

4G

100 Mbps

NBN - FTTC

100 Mbps

NBN - FTTB

100 Mbps

NBN - HFC

100 Mbps

NBN - FTTN

25-100 Mbps

Fixed Wireless

12-50 Mbps

 

As you can see, 5G is undoubtedly the best option in terms of speed. Nothing else comes close to its capabilities.

From a business point of view, the increased speeds and reduced latency are set to revolutionise processes across every industry. With every industry sped up, business productivity will increase alongside it and have a sizable effect on the economy.

In the medical world, surgeries will be possible remotely. Doctors will be able to operate on patients continents away and in near real-time capacity

Smart cities will emerge connecting everyone to everything. Self-driving cars will become much more aware of their surroundings, resulting in even safer drives. Every car will know what’s happening on the road and communicate with each other to produce safe and efficient driving experiences.

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NBN vs 5G Price comparison

If you decide on terminating your NBN connection in favor of a 5G home broadband network, you can find decent deals.

It’s a common misconception that 5G will cost you a fortune. In reality, 5G packages might even be cheaper than what you’re paying for your internet right now. That’s of course if you’re willing to have data-capped 5G plans instead of the unlimited downloads offered by most NBN connections.

According to Finder, Optus offers a 5G home broadband option offering a minimum of 50 Mbps (unlimited downloads) speeds at $75 a month. Its NBN counterpart offering the same speeds and downloads is available for the same price.

Telstra offers two 5G packages at the moment at $50 (60 GB) and $75 (200 GB) a month. They’re both data packages and aren’t designed to replace your existing NBN connection. Unlike Optus, Telstra doesn’t have a dedicated 5G home broadband service for the public yet.

Vodafone has been slow to announce its own packages and we’re not certain if it will offer home broadband yet.

Whilst carriers advertise unlimited 5G packages, in reality they slow your speeds once you cross a certain download threshold. Since 5G will allow better download speeds, you will end up using much more data in a shorter time frame and crossing data limits can become a frequent issue.

Because of this, 5G could potentially be more expensive to use as your everyday internet. 

Will 5G replace NBN?

When newer technologies arrive, the old ones take a long time to get replaced completely. 3G technology is still relevant today, even though the majority of people across the world have access to 4G.

Expensive 5G phones will also be a barrier for some time. While the higher-end models of most brands are shipping out with 5G capabilities, not everyone will be running out to buy one. Considering much of Australia doesn’t have 5G connectivity yet, many people will prefer switching to 5G a few years after it’s become popular.

5G infrastructure is being installed as we speak and it’s in the initial phase. It will take many years for 5G to become mainstream and with COVID-19 still lurking around, infrastructure rollout and other formalities are bound to get delayed. With both these constraints, predicting a solid timeline for 5G completion seems naive.

Even if 5G is installed at an accelerated rate, the prospect of wireless connections completely replacing the need for wired internet access is unreal. By current estimates, the entire rollout of NBN will cost $51 billion. The government simply cannot afford to just have it replaced within the next 5 or so years.

They will adamantly try their best to keep it relevant by offering incentives to people to stay on and not completely abandon it. Even when 5G becomes the norm, expect NBN to stick around for a long time.

5G vs NBN Conclusion

While 5G is designed to outperform NBN in terms of speed, it’s current availability and price points aren’t lucrative enough to make a permanent switch to 5G and abandon NBN altogether.

Even when it comes to speed, 5G varies a lot. If you’re not in an ideal location, your speeds can drop significantly with the smallest movements. Consistent high speeds on 5G will be achieved with time when more 5G towers are erected.

For most people, 5G will take time to even reach them in the first place. Until then, they have no choice but to keep using NBN for their daily needs. Even if some businesses are in the range of stable 5G, an immediate move towards it will not be recommended. Wireless connections can provide poor functionality at times and having a wired internet as backup will always be valuable.

As 5G expands coverage and provides consistent results, one can start pondering if switching permanently to 5G is viable. Until then, losing connectivity even for a few hours can do irreversible damage to some businesses.

Pricing is also extremely important from a business’s perspective. If your business sends and receives large volumes of data on a regular basis, 5G will be expensive to keep up. Most 5G plans available right now have a limit, with those advertised as ‘unlimited’ will slow you down once you cross a certain threshold. In situations like these, NBN will always keep your costs down.

Taking everything into account, a parallel approach with both 5G and NBN is the safest option. When 5G has matured enough and provides more incentives in the mentioned areas, switch at the first chance you get and enter a new era of internet connectivity.

There’s no doubt that every industry will be sped up. Communication problems will soon be a thing of the past and barriers will drop. Conducting business across the world will feel the same as interacting physically with people. All we need to do is be patient and let the technology evolve to its ultimate form.

Whether you use 5G or NBN, you need to ensure that it’s safe and guards your traffic. Whenever you send files over the internet, there’s a chance that someone might be listening in on your network.

Some hackers cause nuisance for fun, while some hackers actively try to cause harm to others. When dealing with either type, the best way to make sure they don’t get a hold of your important information is to send it through a secure channel.

That is where eFax comes in. efax is the digital equivalent of a traditional fax machine with even more benefits and removes all issues related to faxing.

eFax lets you quickly send and receive documents in a secure manner from your phone, desktop, and tablet. All you need is an eFax account.

Get rid of your physical machine, clear your office space, and go green. You don’t need any physical equipment to use eFax.

eFax allows you to carry over your existing fax number as well. In the case you want a new one, we’re happy to help you out.

eFax is NBN™ compatible, making it future proof for incoming technology. With eFax, you’ll be able to smoothly transition to the NBN™, as eFax allows you to keep using your existing number from day one. eFax’s online fax services require no hardware, meaning they can be instantly and seamlessly deployed into any business. For a provider that gives Australian businesses a secure and reliable online fax solution, look no further than eFax. 

To see what eFax can do for your business, start a 30-day free trial or call 1800 283 361.

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eFax Team - eFax Team

eFax has grown to become one of the world's largest providers of Internet messaging services, offering fax by email to more than 11 million subscribers. 

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