RateCity.com.au
  1. Home
  2. NBN Plans
  3. Articles
  4. Things you need to know about working from home on internet

Things you need to know about working from home on internet

Jodie Humphries avatar
Jodie Humphries
- 10 min read
Things you need to know about working from home on internet

Fast internet is essential to working from home efficiently

What was once a luxury that office employees got to do once in a while (if ever), working from home has quickly become the norm for many workers across the globe.

Whether you’re working from your kitchen table, the couch, or a desk, your internet speed can be the difference between being frustrated or content as you tackle your tasks. A fast and reliable internet connection will enable you to be productive and tick off your to-do list efficiently, whereas having to sit and wait for content to load will have you falling behind and playing catch-up.

Fast internet speed is essential to getting more done in less time, and keeping both you and your employer satisfied.

The basics to working from home on internet

When it comes to home internet, there are a handful of elements you need to understand so you know what to look for in an ideal internet plan. These include:

  • Mbps:

    Short for megabits per second, this is a universal measurement for how fast data travels along the network. The higher the Mbps, the faster your internet should be.

  • Download speeds:

    This refers to how quickly you can retrieve content from the internet. Faster download speeds will enable you to search the web, load websites, access files, and check emails in no time.

  • Upload speeds:

    Typically slower than downloads, upload speeds refers to how quickly you can put content on the internet. Faster upload speeds will have you attaching a PDF to your email and making a social media post quickly, as well as looking pixel-perfect in your Zoom meetings.

  • Data:

    Data is engrained in every online activity, with streaming and downloading large files usually using up more of it. How much data you have will depend on your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and internet plan; and the amount will either be capped or unlimited.

What internet speed is good for working from home?

As of January 2022, 12.1 million Australian homes and businesses are able to connect to the NBN; so chances are you’re already (or are eligible to) hook up to the latest generation of internet infrastructure.

While there’s no one size fits all when it comes to how much speed you need to work from home, the NBN has four speed tiers that should do the trick for most remote workers. Each representing the maximum downloadable bps per second, they include: 

  • NBN 50 (50Mbps)

  • NBN 100 (100Mbps)

  • NBN 250 (250Mbps)

  • NBN 1000 (1000Mbps)

Note: While NBN 1000 is not currently available to all premises, it’s expected to cover 75 per cent of Australian households by 2023.

You’ll notice we haven’t included the two lower speed tiers - NBN 12 and NBN 25; with these speeds, you’ll likely only be able to tackle one task at a time, which would make working from home far too challenging.

NBN 50

NBN 50 is a good place to start when it comes to work-from-home arrangements, with speeds up to 50Mbps usually being ample for one or two people who spend their work day on the web.

While an individual activity shouldn’t require 50Mbps, this plan allows the connection to be spread across multiple devices/programs without lagging. For example, if you’re using 5Mbps to Zoom with your colleagues, you’ll still have 45Mbps free to continue typing away in a Google doc or take a break to scroll on social media.

As well as making multitasking possible, NBN 50 plans have a generous typical upload speed of 20Mbps. For most remote workers, this should be enough to get content online fast; although you may notice that large files take longer to get to the end of the upload bar.

NBN 100

If you’ve got three or more people working from home, undertaking light internet activities, or are an individual that handles large files such as PDFs, presentations, videos and graphics, 100Mbps might be a better option to avoid network interruptions.

With upload speeds up to 40Mbps, you’ll be able to share work with your colleagues and clients quickly, and keep important information secure by backing up data to the cloud.

NBN 250

More than double the Mbps than the previous option, NBN 250 should satisfy a large household who uses the internet for both work and leisure.

With 250Mbps at your disposal, video conferencing should be crystal clear, and messages and emails should download almost instantaneously; there should also be very low latency times or delay on internet calls. (Latency is the time it takes for data to be transferred between its original source and its destination, measured in milliseconds.)

NBN 1000

The fastest internet you can nab on the NBN market, 1000Mbps, should allow you to have multiple programs open on multiple devices, without an ounce of lagging. 

With this speed behind you, you should be able to tackle any online task with ease.

Be aware of evening speeds

When searching around for the best NBN plan for your work situation, you’ll encounter the term ‘evening speed’. This refers to a period of time, generally between 7pm and 11pm, when the internet tends to slow down due to lots of people being on the NBN network at once.

Despite the name, evening speeds can occur at any hour of the day when the network is busy; and with the rise of work from home, you might find them occurring more often than they did pre-pandemic.

It’s important to know that not all NBN connections slow down much, or at all, come nighttime. This is thanks to ISPs controlling the amount of congestion on their network by purchasing the right amount of NBN bandwidth for their customer base.

In saying this, it’s important to know what evening speeds to expect from a plan so you aren’t underwhelmed later on. And if you get most of your work done at night, you’ll know to opt for an NBN plan with a higher typical evening speed so you don’t lose any momentum.

For many remote workers, video calls are a constant part of their schedule.

Below you’ll find recommended upload and download speeds for a number of popular video conferencing platforms, to give you an idea of what they require to work efficiently:

App

Recommended download speed

Recommended upload speed

Zoom

600Kbps - 3Mbps

600Kbps - 3.8Mbps

Skype

300Kbps - 8Mbps

300Kbps - 512Kbps

Microsoft Teams 

130Kbps - 2Mbps

130Kpbs - 1Mbps

FaceTime

128Kbps

128Kbps

Google Hangouts

3.2Mbps

3.2Mbps

If numbers aren’t your thing, a good rule of thumb is, if you can stream Netflix in HD without any troubles, then you shouldn’t have any issues with clear video calls.

The deal on data for working from home on the internet

As we mentioned earlier, every online activity requires data; and if you’re working from home five days a week, that data is going to add up fast.

The best bet is securing an unlimited amount so you don’t have to worry about running out.

Most NBN plans offer unlimited data, so it should be easy enough to find one that suits your work-from-home habits.

How can I improve my work from home setup?

If you’re working from home on the internet, the last thing you want to deal with is a poor connection getting in the way of your work.

Here are some ways to ensure your internet speed is up to scratch:

Conduct an internet speed test

Checking how many Mbps you are actually getting with an Internet Speed Test is a simple way to see if your NBN plan is delivering as promised. Keep in mind that while you may not always get the maximum Mbps, you should at least be getting the minimums outlined by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC)

The ACCC defines the minimum acceptable speed for some of the speed tiers as:

  • 15Mbps for NBN 25 plans
  • 30Mbps for NBN 50 plans
  • 60Mbps for NBN 100 plans

Anything below these minimums is deemed ‘poor’ performance.

You can also use this table to see where your speed stands:

NBN speed tier

Poor speeds

Average speeds

Good speeds

NBN 12

0-8 Mbps

9-10 Mbps

11-12 Mbps

NBN 25

0-15 Mbps

15-22 Mbps

22-25 Mbps

NBN 50

0-30 Mbps

30-40 Mbps

40-50 Mbps

NBN 100

0-60Mbps

60-85 Mbps

85-100 Mbps

NBN 250

0-110 Mbps

110-150 Mbps

150-250 Mbps

NBN 1000

0-250 Mbps

250-500 Mbps

500-1000 Mbps

If your speed is poor, it might be worth speaking to your ISP and attempting to troubleshoot any issues that may be preventing higher speeds from being achieved. If that doesn’t work, you might want to consider switching to another provider or plan that offers faster typical evening speeds. If you’ve got an ‘average’ or ‘good’ score but still aren’t satisfied with your NBN speed, it might be time to move up a speed tier for a faster internet experience.

Find the sweet (speed) spot

Your proximity to your WiFi router, and how many obstructions are in the way, can affect the speeds you receive on your devices.

 It’s worth doing a speed test from a few different locations in your home to see if there’s a considerable drop-off from one spot to another; if there is, make that area a no-work zone and set up your workspace where the Mbps are higher. 

 You can also try repositioning your router to strengthen the connection; for the best results, make sure it’s in an open space and up as high as possible. If you can reposition the antennas, try playing around with them to see if different angles enhance your speeds.

Can I claim my internet usage on my tax?

If you’ve been using your home internet for work-related purposes, you may be eligible to claim a portion of your usage back on tax. This can be done via the following methods:

Calculating your estimated internet usage

This involves working out what percentage of your internet you use for your job. For example, if it’s 30 per cent, you would take 30 per cent off your monthly bill and multiply this by 12 to give you a figure for the year. If you haven’t been working at home for a whole year come tax time, simply swap 12 for the number of months you have been working remotely.

Make sure you meet the eligibility criteria before you make a claim.

The ‘80 cents per hour’ shortcut method

If you’re working from home as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the ATO has a temporary shortcut method that you can use to claim your internet usage back on tax.

Remote workers can claim a flat rate of 80 cents per working hour for all their work-related running costs in the financial year. To be eligible, you’ll need to meet the following criteria:

  • you’ve been working at home fully or partially because of Covid-19
  • you paid the internet bill - your employer didn’t reimburse you
  • you’ve kept a record of the hours worked.

Be aware that the shortcut method only applies until 30 June 2022. To continue to claim deductions for working from home expenses beyond this date, you’ll need to use the alternative method above.

Compare NBN plans

Data per monthTypical evening download/upload speed (Mbps)Cost per monthModem

Unlimited

95/40

Max download speed 100Mbps

$75

for 6 months, then $89/mth

Not included

Superloop (Australia) Pty Ltd
Power home 100/40 BYO
  • No contract
  • BYO modem available

Unlimited

95/40

Max download speed 100Mbps

$75

for 6 months, then $89/mth

Included

Superloop (Australia) Pty Ltd
Power home 100/40
  • No contract
  • Modem included
  • BYO modem available

Unlimited

22/10

Max download speed 25Mbps

$59

for 6 months, then $65/mth

Not included

Superloop (Australia) Pty Ltd
Everyday 25/10 BYO
  • No contract
  • BYO modem available

Unlimited

50/20

Max download speed 50Mbps

$60.99

for 6 months, then $78.99/mth

Not included

Exetel
Extra-value nbn BYO
  • No contract
  • BYO modem available

ratecity-newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter

Compare NBN plans

Data per monthTypical evening download/upload speed (Mbps)Cost per monthModem

Unlimited

25/5

Max download speed 25Mbps

$69

Included

  • No contract
  • Phone bundle included
  • Modem included
  • BYO modem available

Unlimited

96/20

Max download speed 100Mbps

$104

Included

  • No contract
  • Phone bundle included
  • Modem included
  • BYO modem available

Unlimited

49/20

Max download speed 50Mbps

$84

Included

  • No contract
  • Phone bundle included
  • Modem included
  • BYO modem available

Unlimited

11/1

Max download speed 12Mbps

$65

Not included

  • No contract
  • BYO modem available

Product database updated 28 May, 2024

This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Peter Terlato before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.