Big households and large families: What NBN options are there?

Mother and children using ipad on lounge

Deciding on the right internet plan for your family home can be a difficult decision. It can be hard to know how many devices are going to be connected at once, and the bandwidth those devices might demand.

We’ve done our best to simplify things for you to help you find an internet plan that suits your family home.

The speed tiers can handle different amounts of devices

NBN plans are traditionally advertised by their different speed tiers. You’ll see these advertised in one of two ways: the names of these tiers as described by NBN Co, or by the speeds these names represent.

These tiers range from NBN Basic or NBN 12, which sees download speeds at a max of 12mbps, all the way up to the NBN Ultrafast tier, which will see download speeds between 500-1000mbps. While the plan names describe the achievable speeds the connection will offer, there’s also a number of devices they can comfortably handle.

If you’re in a one or two-person household, or a household in which only two people are likely to be using the internet at one time, the NBN Basic tier might be worth taking a look at. NBN Basic can handle 1-2 users being connected at once, and sees speeds capable of smooth standard-definition video streaming, music streaming and standard internet browsing.

If you’re in a three or four-person household, or you enjoy streaming video in high-definition, NBN Standard might suit your needs. Capable of handling 3-4 connected users at once while running HD streams, online gaming and video conferencing among other utilities, the NBN Standard tier offers a little more flexibility for those households that need a bit extra.

Large families have a few options to consider. The NBN Fast, Superfast and Ultrafast tiers can all handle 5+ users connected at once. The main difference here is the download speed you’ll see, with NBN Fast plans maxing out at 100mbps, while those eligible for the Ultrafast tier may potentially see speeds capped ten times higher at 1000mbps. Your connection type will determine what speed tiers your home is eligible for, so check your address over on NBN Co’s website.

Speed tierMax download speed (mbps)Concurrent users
Basic I121-2
Basic II251-2
Standard503-4
Fast1005+
Superfast2505+
Ultrafast10005+

What speed does my household need?

The needs of the internet users in your home is also something you’ll want to consider when finding the right broadband plan. Your max download speed will be spread across all of the devices connected. For example, an NBN Standard plan doesn’t mean all users will have speeds of 50mbps, rather the 50mbps will be spread across all users.

If some or all users are streaming or downloading large amounts of data, you’ll need a fairly high speed in order for everything to run smoothly. Otherwise you can consider taking steps to lower the bandwidth you’re using, such as streaming content at a lower resolution. Streaming 4K (ultra HD) videos through Netflix, for example, requires about 25mbps for a stable stream. Dropping the resolution to HD would see you using just 5mbps for a stable stream, leaving more bandwidth free for other users.

For those working from home, video conferencing requires around 8-10mbps download speed for a stable connection, and a 1mbps upload speed. If you have two users connected to an NBN Basic I plan, you may find it difficult to reach that kind of bandwidth if the other person in your household also needs to be using the internet at the same time.

Will my Wi-Fi reach my whole house?

Those in a large household may find their internet connection fails to reach some areas of their home. As Wi-Fi signals are sent out from your router in every direction, a central position in your home is the best location for your router, but even still you may find the connection doesn’t reach some rooms.

You may be able to consider a Wi-Fi extender to help boost your signal. In our guide about this piece of technology, we’ve explained how extenders are able to help spread your Wi-Fi signal further around your home.

Find and compare internet plans in your area over at our broadband hub. You can also view some popular plans in our handy comparison tool below.