Vodafone has today announced the launch of its own 5G home internet plans, following in the footsteps of both Telstra and Optus, whose own plans launched some time ago given their head-start with rolling out their services.
From today, new and existing Vodafone customers can choose between two plans for 5G home internet – for AU$75p/m you can reach download speeds up to 100Mbps, or forking out AU$85p/m sees this limit uncapped.
Both offer unlimited data, a AU$5 discount if you already have a Vodafone mobile plan, and your first month free if you sign up before January 31, 2022. You can't bring your own modem with either plan, so you'll need to bundle the plan with Vodafone's own, but the good news is that it's free if you stay connected for 36 months (otherwise it's AU$612 in total, which can be paid off monthly at AU$17p/m).
Vodafone's new 5G home internet plans offer a great alternative to the NBN with its unlimited data cap, granted your home is in the coverage zone. There's a AU$5 monthly discount if you already have a Vodafone mobile plan and you get your first month free if you sign up before January 31, 2022. As we mentioned, this plan has a download speed cap of 100Mbps, but you can also opt for a plan with an uncapped speed limit for AU$85/pm instead – a great option if you're at the heart of one the 5G coverage zones.
As is the case with anything 5G-related in Australia, you'll need to check the network's coverage map to see if your area has access to the latest mobile data standard. The map has a key showing both 5G indoor and 5G outdoor coverage, the former of which is important for these new plans and substantially smaller than the latter.
If you find yourself right on the fringe of one of the coverage zones, it's likely worth waiting a little longer as, from our experience, performance in these areas can be worse than standard 4G coverage with slower download and upload speeds.
Vodafone is still quite a bit behind both Telstra and Optus in terms of 5G availability, with Ookla reporting in April that just 3.4% of Vodafone customers were actually able to use 5G, compared with Optus' 13.6% and Telstra's whopping 32.8%.
With that in mind, the telco plans to "have over 1,000 sites live by the end of 2021" in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra, so there may be some shift in those figures over the course of the year, but we doubt it will be significant.
Why choose 5G over NBN?
If you're lucky enough to be in one of Vodafone's 5G indoor coverage zones, these plans offer a great alternative to NBN services if you're unable to get a decent fixed line connection
It's also a great proposition in terms of value – considering the unlimited data cap and 100Mbps speed cap on the AU$75p/m plan, it works out cheaper than the best NBN 100 plans on offer at the moment.
Australia has some of the fastest 5G speeds in the world, with a median download speed of 283.56Mbps (according to the same Ookla report mentioned previously). Unfortunately, it was Optus and Telstra doing the heavy lifting here, with median speeds of 309.86Mbps and 295.00Mbps respectively, compared with Vodafone's 184.98Mbps.
It's also worth considering that 5G is a mobile signal and can fluctuate significantly as a result, with its speeds being largely dependent on signal strength at any given time.
In theory, if you are right in the centre of one of Vodafone's coverage zones and have the uncapped plan, you could attain download speeds much faster than an equivalent NBN plan, but for the vast majority of users, we suspect a fixed broadband connection would be preferable if you're able to get one.
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