Aussies are ditching big telcos for smaller NBN providers – and it's easy to see why

Man exiting through a glowing red door, holding his hopes in a briefcase
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In the battle between the major established telcos and the smaller emerging NBN providers, the underdogs are continuing on their path to conquest. 

The latest Wholsesale Market Indicators report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) shows that Telstra, Optus and TPG have each lost about 0.3% in market share over the first three months of 2022. 

This leaves almost a full percent increase across all the other smaller providers collectively, with Aussie Broadband in particular seeing a massive 0.5% increase – the same rise it saw in the last ACCC report which first revealed the trend towards smaller telcos.

As before, companies such as Aussie Broadband, Spintel, Tangerine and MyRepublic are continuing to offer viable alternatives to the likes of Telstra and Optus, enticing Australian customers with cheap NBN plans, gamer-specific bandwidth, bundled extras and other tailored offerings.

The consumer watchdog says that this shift is a good thing for the market, increasing competition and "keeping the larger providers on their toes," which translates to better deals for the customer.

You can see some of these sweet deals below:

Is smaller better?

So if big names such as Telstra and Optus are so popular and well-established, why are the smaller brands gaining traction? Let's take a look by comparing NBN 50 plans from Spintel and Telstra as an example. 

For Spintel, you'll pay AU$54p/m for six months, then AU$64.95 ongoing while Telstra's option costs AU$95 each month. Over the course of the first year, this is a AU$426 difference – a 60% increase on Spintel's plan cost – so what's Telstra offering to justify that?

Telstra's plan includes three free months of the Binge Standard streaming service (valued at AU$42), and if you stay connected for 24 months the modem is free, otherwise you'll have to return the device or pay AU$200 to keep it.

With Spintel, you'll have to cough up AU$230 for a modem (including delivery) if you don't already have one, so this isn't factored into the plan costs as it is with Telstra, but it's worth noting that you'll only be 'saving' this money with Telstra if you stay put for two years. 

Other than those differences – both providers promise the maximum typical evening download speed of 50Mbps, have no setup fee, and operate on a month-to-month basis, so there's no lock-in contract.

The differences in included value between these plans don't seem to justify the 60% cost gap per year, and when you consider that Spintel has some hot competition in the way of Tangerine, Exetel and MyRepublic, it's easier to see why Australians are increasingly choosing the smaller and more competitive telcos.

Harry Domanski
Harry is an Australian Journalist for TechRadar with an ear to the ground for future tech, and the other in front of a vintage amplifier. He likes stories told in charming ways, and content consumed through massive screens. He also likes to get his hands dirty with the ethics of the tech.