Unifi

Residential Gigabit Internet in Australia on NBN

Back in December 2015, I was connected to the National Broadband Network (NBN) via Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) and wrote about it. It’s taken 5 years for a faster speed to be available to consumers at a reasonable price.

(This is my personal experience in changing over to Gigabit internet, and is not sponsored or influenced by anyone in any way.)

Yes – it’s now possible to get reasonably priced, consumer gigabit internet in Australia. That is, if you’re lucky enough to have NBN FTTP or really lucky and in the 7% of the NBN Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) households.

You could get faster than 100mbit before this, but only through a few ISPs with 250mbit down but 250/100Mbps was at $250AU per month, and 250/25Mbps at $169AU.

I’m in that first group, sweet sweet fibre running straight into my premises (or premise?). I was already on 100 megabits per second down, 40 megabits per second up with Internode unlimited for $99AU per month, but Aussie Broadband’s new offering of 1000/50Mbps for $149AU was too good to not try. At worst, I could just go back to Aussie Broadband’s plan identical to Internode’s.

Changing over to Aussie was the quickest ISP change I’ve ever done. After submitting an online form and providing credit card details, I’d had an alert half an hour later that the service was now active on port UNI-D 1 on my network termination device. I changed the network cable over from one port to the other, checked the settings on my Unifi Dream Machine (UDM) and changed the WAN connection type from PPPoE to DHCP and I was on.

At the time of signing up, it was still a day away or so from the gigabit plan being released, but speedtest showed I was getting the same as before on a 100/40Mbit plan.

The next day (May 29th 2020) when the ‘Home Ultrafast’ plan came out, I immediately switched over. Except, my speeds didn’t change. Thankfully, @dawnstarau saved me a lot of time and said to check my UDM settings and look at the Smart Queues up and down rates. After fixing those, I was in the fast lane.

Unifi Dream Machine Smart Queues settings (correct for 1000/50Mbps)
First speed test after!

741Mbps down and 47Mbps up! However, that’s only ~3/4 of a gigabit connection! After a day or so things seemed to speed up a bit more and this is the numbers I’ll normally see:

877Mbps down. It’s close enough to gigabit on a service that doesn’t guarantee gigabit, and gigabit is the speed that all my wired ethernet devices talk to each other at. For wireless, you’ll need an access point and device on 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) to have a chance at gigabit or faster for your devices to talk to each other fast enough – but, my Google Pixel 4 XL that has 802.11ac shows top speeds at around 230Mbps when I’m about 1 1/2 metres away from an access point, way under what my wired devices see.

How is life on gigabit? Web pages actually do load faster. They weren’t slow in the first place, but things like adverts are noticeably ‘instant’ and an entire page will flash up fully populated, rather than the experience of having a lot of the page load then ads load half a second later.

Steam downloads a lot faster too, games will peak download around 90Mbps with often around the 50-60Mbps mark. Getting something several times faster makes a big difference when it takes 8 minutes to fully download a large game rather than 45 minutes; it means I’ll happily uninstall a game and get it later if needed, rather than hoarding a giant game ‘just in case’.

Youtube seems better at quickly detecting HD – even on 100mbit, it would often start at 480p and then work it’s way up to higher resolutions, but now it’s at least 720p.

Gaming isn’t much different, apart from giant Call of Duty patches which see similar speeds to Steam.

I don’t mind if two different TVs are streaming YouTube, another’s watching Netflix at 4K and someone wants to online game – the pipe is now big enough that nobody should lessen the experience of anyone else ever. Not that it was really a problem before, but as my kids get older they’ll be doing more and more things online.

If time is money, then for an extra $50 a month, I think it’s worth it to wait up to 10x less to download something. It’s even better having the flexibility to jump around as there’s no contract, so if I’m having a quiet month I could always just change plans.

Gigabit is what the NBN’s future promise was at the start until politics got in the way, and it’s really disappointing this option isn’t there for all Australians. Imagine if we did the entire rollout on Fibre and Covid-19 hit. We’d have everyone able to work at home on solid connections, instead of the hybrid mess we have now.

Also, if you sign up for Aussie Broadband make sure you use a friend code. Both sides get $50 credit – either use my code 3661840 , or even better if you have a friend already on Aussie Broadband, ask them to go to https://my.aussiebroadband.com.au/#/profile/ and tell you their Refer-A-Friend Code.

Anything you’d like to know or want me to test? Let me know in the comments.