5G home internet in Australia: what it is, plus the best plans and deals

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Now that Telstra, Optus and Vodafone have all established their 5G networks in Australia, this superfast, next-gen mobile connectivity is capable of replacing home broadband in some households.

As we hinted at, one of the main appeals of 5G connectivity is its potentially awesome speed – both downloading and uploading – as well as its lower latency than older cellular technologies, making for zippy use across the board.

This means that those with 5G connections will be able to stream shows and movies at higher resolutions (in time for the rise of 8K), as well as perform downloads and uploads in much shorter windows of time. While most Aussies will probably be familiar with this technology in relation to mobile phones at this point, 5G home internet is still relatively fresh, but don’t worry – we’re here to answer all your questions.

Best 5G home internet plans

Best cheap 5G home internet plan: our pick

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Optus | 5G home internet | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | AU$69p/m (first month free)

Optus’ cheapest 5G home internet plan costs AU$69 a month, plus your first month is free, giving you a nice way to trial it risk-free. For your money, you’ll get unlimited data and a maximum download speed of 50Mbps, though typical evening speeds sit at 43Mbps. That means it’s not quite up to par with some of the best NBN 50 plans, but it’s close. Optus also has a Satisfaction Guarantee – if you’re not getting speeds of at least 40Mbps, you can cancel the plan without fees. You will need to return the modem though, or pay out the remaining cost (which could be up to AU$576).

Total minimum cost: AU$576 (includes modem) | Total cost for first year: AU$759 | Ongoing yearly cost: AU$828

Best premium 5G home internet plan: our pick


Telstra | 5G home internet | 1TB data | No lock-in contract | AU$85p/m (first month free)

Telstra’s premium 5G home internet comes with a data usage cap of 1TB each month, and it’ll set you back AU$85 each billing. Telstra reports a typical download speed of 378Mbps in the evening hours (and 46Mbps upload) which is certainly the best of the competition, and the telco is likely to have better coverage than the rest too. You’ll also get Telstra’s 5G modem when you sign up, but note that if you decide to leave within 24 months you’ll need to return the modem or pay a non-return fee, which could be up to AU$696 – make sure you return it!

Total minimum cost: AU$0 | Total cost for first year: AU$935 | Ongoing yearly cost: AU$1,020


What is 5G home internet?

5G is the fifth generation of mobile phone technology. The first generation was analogue mobiles, followed by digital, then 3G and 4G made mobile data better and faster. 5G amps up the speed, but it’s also about boosting capacity and reliability to handle the many millions of different devices that want to get online, including the devices we don’t have yet: augmented reality glasses, smart self-driving cars, time-travelling killer robots from the future... you get the idea.

Will 5G replace the NBN?

While 5G won’t be replacing the NBN as a whole (or other fixed line internet services) as a whole – at least not any time soon – it has reached the point where it can be a viable alternative to an NBN connection for some people. 5G home internet has two main advantages over fixed-line NBN (convenience and cost) but also comes with some caveats. Most NBN plans have unlimited data, for example, whereas some providers are capping their 5G home internet plans, and 5G internet is more prone to interference from external factors, including weather conditions and network load during peak periods.

But we wouldn’t be surprised if 5G (or perhaps more realistically, 6G or 7G) eventually became the de facto connection for both your mobile phone and home internet. While we’re some way off that eventuality, there are still plenty of situations where having a 5G home connection makes more sense than going with the NBN.

Which companies have 5G home internet plans?

The three major telcos of Telstra, Optus and Vodafone have switched on their 5G networks, and each of them now offers 5G home internet. That doesn’t mean anybody can sign up to 5G internet though, as you can only connect in areas where 5G service is available.

5G coverage continues to rollout, and while Telstra is comfortably in the lead, Optus and Vodafone are making progress on this front too, as their infrastructure continues to catch up with Telstra’s head-start. Aside from the major players, mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) which resell access to the top telcos have also entered the 5G space, including iiNet, Internode and TPG (which all use the Vodafone network) and Spintel (which uses Optus).

Before signing up to a 5G home internet plan, it’s essential to use the provider's address checker and/or check each carrier’s 5G coverage map to see if your area and its surrounds are currently served by 5G signal. We’ve linked to each telco’s 5G coverage maps below:

Telstra 5G coverage
Optus 5G coverage
Vodafone 5G coverage

When will 5G home internet be available?

5G home internet is here, with Telstra, Optus and TPG all now offering a 5G home internet option, along with a select few MVNOs. The major caveat, though, is that it’s only available in select areas.

As for availability, 5G coverage is available in all capital cities in Australia, though Darwin is only served by Vodafone’s 5G network at present. A number of regional centres across the country also have access to 5G coverage.

The initial rollout of 5G has been based on higher frequency bands, that deliver lots of capacity over short distances, which isn’t much use in rural areas where there are fewer people spread over much larger areas.

How fast is 5G? Is it faster than regular broadband?

5G can be quite a lot faster than many broadband connections, though you should take any headline figures with a grain of salt. Quoted 5G speeds are theoretical, as you’ll know if you’ve ever struggled to do anything on a one-bar 4G connection. According to the small Australian telco Mate, which uses parts of the Telstra network, 4G is capable of download speeds up to 180Mbps. In reality, though, you’re more likely to achieve around 20Mbps. 

For 5G, speeds are expected to be between 100Mbps and 1Gbps, according to WhistleOut. On Telstra’s 5G home internet sign up page, the telco reports download speeds between 50Mbps and 600Mbps. However, you should only expect to reach top speeds under ideal conditions, and that qualifier is important because mobile data speeds are affected by signal strength, interference and congestion.

But it’s not just about straight line speed. Latency matters too. Latency is the gap between asking for something and getting it: a song, perhaps, or throwing a grenade at someone in a game. The longer the lag the worse the performance. On 4G, latency hovers somewhere between 50 to 100 milliseconds; on 5G that can drop into single digits.

We have a dedicated guide on how to do an NBN speed test, which you can also use to test your 4G or 5G speed.

Can I get 5G mobile broadband?

Looking for something more portable to take out into the big wide world? Well, there’s always the option of mobile 5G broadband. If you’ve already got a phone that’s capable of 5G, it’s generally more cost-effective to get a 5G-capable plan and tether to your mobile device, but if not there are still some options for you.

Best 5G mobile broadband plans

Best cheap mobile broadband plan: our pick


Telstra | Mobile broadband | 30GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$25p/m

Telstra’s cheapest 5G mobile broadband plan will set you up with 30GB of data for AU$25 a month. You’re able purchase it as a SIM-only on a no lock-in contract, or you can pair it with a 5G-ready portable modem from Telstra. There are three 5G-ready modems from Telstra you can choose from, and you can pay them off outright or in monthly instalments along with your plan. This plan also offers Telstra’s 4GX network if you’re not in range of 5G at any given time.

Total minimum cost: AU$25 (excluding modem) | Total cost for first year: AU$300

Best big-data mobile broadband plan: our pick


Belong | Mobile broadband | 100GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$35p/m

If you’re more data-hungry, consider this 5G-capable mobile broadband plan from Belong. It gives you 100GB a month to burn through for just AU$35 each billing. Belong uses parts of Telstra’s 5G and 4G networks, though it says download speeds are capped at 100Mbps for both – that still makes it as fast as some of the best NBN 100 plans. Unlike the Telstra plan above, Belong’s mobile broadband is only available as a SIM card, so your device will need a SIM card slot. If you want full access to Telstra’s network, consider its 75GB plan for AU$55p/m.

Total minimum cost: AU$35 | Total cost for first year: AU$420

Jasmine Gearie
Ecommerce editor

Jasmine Gearie is an ecommerce editor at TechRadar Australia, with a primary focus on helping readers cut through the jargon to find the best mobile and internet plans for their needs. She crunches the numbers to maintain dedicated guides to the latest phones, NBN and broadband plans of all types, and covers the important telco industry news. She also hunts down tech deals on laptops, phones, gaming consoles and more, so readers know where to buy the products they want for the cheapest prices.

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