Australia doesn't have the best track record when it comes to bolstering its internet infrastructure, but if you do happen to live in an area where the National Broadband Network (NBN) has rolled out in a fixed line capacity, then you've likely found that you're spoiled for choice when it comes to the amount of plans available.
For those who spend a lot of time gaming, things can potentially get expensive if you're on a capped plan. If you're regularly downloading games from your terrifying Steam backlog, the gigabytes can rack up fairly quickly. With games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare requiring 130GB downloads, not to mention updates that sometimes soar into the 60GB region, you're not going to want any kind of download limit. Thankfully it's not (too) expensive to forego these limits, and all the plans below assume that you're after unlimited data.
NBN: Ping, download speeds, and connection types
For gamers who play a lot of online multiplayer titles, ping time is also an important factor to consider – albeit one that can be complicated by factors outside your ISP's control, such as the type of NBN connection you're on, and your home network setup. Fibre to the premises (FTTP) tech is almost always going to offer the fastest pings because it's an end-to-end optical connection between you and your ISP – there's no 'legacy' technology involved that can slow things down. By comparison, fibre to the node (FTTN) and hybrid fibre-coax (HFC) use copper phone lines and coaxial cabling, respectively, which are inherently less responsive than optical fibre. If you're situated only a short distance from the local phone/internet exchange, being on a legacy connection tech might not have much of an affect, but if you live further away, or there's physical degradation to the lines, this might impact ping.
With all that said, ISPs such as Aussie Broadband and MyRepublic do sell themselves on having specific optimisations to their networking infrastructure and setup that can help lower pings. While the factors we've discussed above are still applicable on these ISPs, community feedback from gamers on these providers is generally positive – and as they're making specific claims about gaming speed, they should be more receptive to support requests in the instance you do have issues with ping.
Download speed is also an important, albeit secondary, concern for gamers. An NBN 50 plan, as the name suggests, offers download speeds at a maximum of 50Mbps, but you may find that dropping during peak times. Meanwhile, NBN 100 plans offer a maximum of 100Mbps, which means at best, that 130GB download will take an hour and a half (though remember: getting maximum speeds with NBN tends to be rare). It's worth noting that the NBN tier you opt for shouldn't affect your pings, only your maximum download speeds.
Regardless of the NBN speed you opt for, it may still be worth investing in one of the best gaming routers on the market. These won't improve the overall speed of your connection, but they can help reduce the chance of any lag being introduced by your home's network setup.
For the purposes of this guide, we're sticking with NBN 50 and NBN 100 plans: for the best experience, you're probably not going to want an NBN 25 plan, especially with all those huge and growing title updates. Below are real time comparisons for each tier from Australia's top ISPs.