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Why is my NBN so slow?

We've identified four common problems and fixes that can help speed up your NBN.

Is your NBN connection plodding along like a Galapagos turtle? The solution could be as simple as replacing faulty equipment.

Tired of slow Internet? Click here to compare fast NBN plans

Reason #1: Equipment and signal issues

Cheap and faulty hardware can often affect your connection speed in a bad way. Anything along the NBN chain from your modem to the phone in your hand could be causing an issue in the connection.

You can fix it by:

  • Checking your modem. If you got your modem from your provider as part of your plan, it's probably fine. If not, check that your modem is up-to-date enough to handle a fast NBN connection. If you're using an old modem, it could be inadvertently throttling your speeds, and it might need an upgrade. There's also a small chance that your modem is faulty and simply needs replacement.
  • Testing your Wi-Fi. Hook up your device to an ethernet cable and run an Internet speed test. If your Internet connection is significantly faster, either your Wi-Fi is getting interference or your modem's antenna isn't strong enough.
  • Running speed tests. Run a connection test on several different devices to confirm that it isn't just your phone or laptop that's the problem. If one device is slower, you may need a new one, or you might need to run a virus scan.
    Check how fast your connection is with Finder's Internet Speed Test

Reason #2: Network congestion

When lots of people hop online in the evening, the additional load on the network causes everyone's connection to slow down, despite the NBN being built for high traffic.

A possible fix?

  • Switching providers. If congestion is your only problem, this is the easiest solution. Different network providers promise different typical evening speeds, which are the speeds you'll likely get between 7pm and 11pm when everyone's online. Picking a provider with a higher typical evening speed means congestion shouldn't mess with your connection as much.

Finder survey: How often do Australians conduct an internet speed test in different states?

ResponseWAVICSAQLDNSW
Never63.21%56.67%57.33%59.9%48.88%
Once a month22.64%28.89%33.33%27.41%39.62%
2-3 times a month12.26%10%5.33%9.64%8.31%
More than 4 times a month1.89%4.44%4%3.05%3.19%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1006 Australians, December 2023
Data for ACT, NT, TAS not shown due to insufficient sample size. Some other states may also be excluded for this reason.

Reason #3: Low speed tier

Last but not least, you might be getting a slow connection purely because you're on the wrong NBN speed tier. If your Internet is crawling, you might even be on a NBN12 Basic I plan, which is hardly faster than what you would get on an older ADSL2+ connection. It could also be the case that you simply have too many people accessing the connection at once, making it crawl for everyone.

Fix it by:

  • Upgrading your plan. If the speed tier is the issue, the easiest fix is to just upgrade to a higher speed tier. A great default option is an NBN50 plan, which can support a household of 2-3 medium/heavy Internet users at a decent rate. Check out our guide on the different NBN speed tiers and how to select the best speed for you.

Reason #4: Distance from the node

If you're on a Fibre to the Node (FTTN) NBN connection, the speed you get is heavily dependent on how far away that node is. Signals degrade in old copper wires the further they have to travel, and being at the end of the line can give you a significantly slower connection than someone who's right next to it. Even a few hundred metres can have a huge impact.

This means that you might have a slower connection than you were promised, simply due to bad luck in your physical location. Sadly, there's no physical way to improve the quality or capabilities of your connection, since this a limitation of the NBN installation.

Fix this problem by:

  • Swapping to a lower speed tier. This isn't so much a solution as a way to save paying money unnecessarily. If a provider can't deliver on the speed they promised when you bought your plan due to technical limitations, they're legally required to let you drop to a lower and cheaper speed tier. Get in touch with your provider's customer service team to discuss your options.
  • Using mobile broadband. If you're unhappy with your connection, consider investing in mobile broadband or home wireless broadband, which both use the same network as a mobile phone. Chances are, if you've got good network coverage with your mobile network provider, it should translate to a decent mobile broadband or home wireless connection. Your results may still vary, but you can expect a connection speed between 20Mbps and 100Mbps.
    While there are unlimited data options when it comes to home wireless broadband, you're more likely to have to deal with lower data limits for regular mobile broadband for the same price, but at least you'll be able to get something that runs at a reasonable pace.

Is your internet unreliable?

23% of people rarely get buffering, according to our consumer sentiment tracker (November 2023). NSW users experience the highest number of daily issues (17%) compared to South Australia and Tasmania (14%).

Sick of slow NBN? Start comparing faster NBN plans below

We've preselected NBN plans in the top two speed tiers - Standard and Fast speeds. These speeds are great for households of three or more. If you have a specific price range in mind, simply toggle with the filters to customise your results.

Name Product Data allowance Typical download speed Price Hid Compare Box!
Optus Plus Everyday Fast nbn®
NBN
Month-to-month
OFFER: Introductory offer: $89/mth for the first 6 months, normally $99/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply.
  • Month-to-month
  • Optus Ultra WiFi Modem Gen 2 included for $0 if you stay connected for 36 mths. T&Cs apply
Unlimited Data
Data
Unlimited Data
100Mbps
nbn™100
Speed
100Mbps
nbn™100
$89
per month
Min total cost is $395 for first month
Price
$89 per month
Min total cost (incl delivery + fees) is $395 for first month
Dodo NBN100
NBN
Month-to-month
OFFER: $70/mth for the first 6 months, then $85/mth. Eligibility criteria, T&Cs apply. Ends 25.6.24
  • Month-to-month
  • BYO modem or purchase for $79. T&Cs apply
Unlimited Data
Data
Unlimited Data
100Mbps
nbn™100
Speed
100Mbps
nbn™100
$70
per month
Min total cost is $70 for first month
Price
$70 per month
Min total cost is $70 for first month
TPG NBN50
NBN
Month-to-month
Finder Award
  • Month-to-month
  • BYO modem or purchase for $99.95
Unlimited Data
Data
Unlimited Data
50Mbps
nbn™50
Speed
50Mbps
nbn™50
$79.99
per month
Min total cost is $79.99 for first month
Price
$79.99 per month
Min total cost is $79.99 for first month
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More guides on Finder

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  • NBN vs wireless broadband

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  • VoIP in Australia

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  • NBN FTTB plans

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  • Cheap NBN plans

    Cut down on your Internet bill with these cheap NBN plans for under $50.

  • NBN FTTP plans

    FTTP, or Fibre to the Premises, uses fibre optic cables to deliver the fastest NBN speeds available.

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    HaiMay 3, 2020

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