Small NBN providers are chipping away at the major telcos – should you switch too?

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Smaller NBN providers are continuing to gain a larger market share among Aussies at the expense of the major telcos, according to the latest Wholesale Market Indicators Report by Australia’s consumer watchdog.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) found the smaller telcos now hold 12.6% of the NBN wholesale market as of this year’s June quarter. By comparison, they held 8.2% of the market in the June quarter of 2021.

The big four all experienced loss this June quarter, with Telstra down 0.4 percentage points to 43.3%, TPG losing 0.2 percentage points to 23.1%, Optus down 0.1 percentage points to 13.8% and Vocus (which owns Dodo and iPrimus) falling 0.1 percentage points to 7.2%.

There are some early signs this trend could continue, after TPG reported its half-year results and saw its share price slump last week, and quietly announced it would soon increase the price of some of its NBN plans by AU$5 a month.

So where are NBN users going, after abandoning the big four? Among the smaller telcos that saw growth, Aussie Broadband was the big winner, increasing its market share to 6.4% (that’s up by 0.3 percentage points).

The ACCC’s commissioner, Anna Brakey, says the increased competition is a win for NBN users. “The growth of smaller providers is increasing the competitive tension in broadband markets, and many Australians will see the benefit of that,” she said.

Here’s a look at what’s currently on offer by some of the smaller ISPs offering NBN 50 plans.

Our three top picks from smaller providers

Smaller ISPs such as Aussie Broadband, Exetel, MyRepublic, Spintel, and Tangerine all offer strong alternatives to Telstra, Optus and TPG. In most cases, the smaller players offer cheaper NBN plans compared to Telstra and Optus, and Exetel even manages to outperform both of them, according to broadband data collected by the consumer watchdog.

To find out why Aussies might be switching to smaller providers, let’s take a look at the NBN 50 speed tier, which just over half of all NBN users (55%) have a plan on. Our pick for the best NBN plan on this tier comes from Spintel – you’ll pay just AU$54 a month for your first six months on this plan, before it increases to a low ongoing rate of AU$64.95.

By comparison, Telstra’s NBN 50 plan will set you back AU$95, while Optus’ ongoing rate is AU$79 and TPG’s is AU$69.99 (soon to be AU$74.99). Each of these plans (including Spintel) offer a top typical evening speed of 50Mbps, so it’s difficult to justify the price disparity of up to AU$30. Both Telstra and Optus offer NBN 50 plans which come with 4G backup, but if that’s not important to you, you're better off saving the cash.

It’s not just the NBN 50 tier where you’re better off either, as there are some great offers going on the fastest NBN plans. Our recommendation for an NBN 100 plan comes courtesy of Exetel, where you’ll initially pay AU$68.95 a month for your first six months on the connection, before the price increases to AU$84.95.

Exetel’s NBN 100 plan is AU$7 less than the average cost in this tier, and cheaper than what’s available from Telstra, Optus or TPG. As mentioned, Exetel also outperformed the major telcos in the ACCC’s latest broadband report, and it offers five My Speed Boost days a month on this plan, meaning you can upgrade to NBN 250 for five days a month.

Competition is a little tighter in the NBN 250 speed tier, but we still ultimately recommend Exetel as having the best NBN 250 plan. It’s currently discounted down to AU$99.95 for your first six months on the plan, which is a little more expensive than what Optus (AU$89 for your first half year) and TPG (AU$94.99 for your first six months) are offering.

Exetel gets top marks from the ACCC, and what we like about this plan is that five My Speed Boost days are included, which essentially means you can select five days of NBN 1000 each month (rated at 500Mbps). For the price, we think that’s pretty unbeatable.

Jasmine Gearie
Ecommerce Editor

Jasmine Gearie was previously an Ecommerce Editor at TechRadar Australia, with a primary focus on helping readers find the best mobile and NBN plans. During her time with TechRadar, she also reported on important telco news in Australia, and helped track down tech deals to help readers save money.