The ultimate guide for connecting to the NBN
Once the NBN is available in your area you have 18 months to switch your services over. Learn how to connect your services to the NBN in this complete guide.
What is the NBN?
The National Broadband Network is Australia's new high-speed broadband network.
Its purpose is to replace or upgrade the existing networks that we currently use for phone and Internet services.
Depending on the area you're in, the NBN technology and upgrade process may differ. If you're unsure what technology your area will be covered by, contact your service provider or NBN Co to find out. Some connections may be faster than others, but in general Typical Evening Speed is the best way to compare plans and providers.
Step 1: How to compare plans and providers
We break down the NBN in our Household CEO video series
To see if your area is ready for the NBN and confirm the type of connection that will be used for your premises, simply enter your address in our . Choosing the best plan will depend on how much data you require per month, the types of activities you are using on the Internet and your address.
Our NBN tracker will direct you towards plans available in your area. Find the best NBN plan for your needs using our NBN broadband plan comparison engine, which compares over 50 broadband providers and over 900 NBN plans.
Step 2: Installation
How long does it take to get the NBN?
Once you've applied for your new NBN plan, your ISP will usually arrange for a technician to visit your home to complete the installation. You will also receive a new modem if you have opted for one and instructions on how to connect your devices to the network. The activation process after applying for a plan will depend on whether you've already had the NBN equipment installed at your premises and which specific Internet provider you went with. If your premises has the NBN equipment installed already you could be connected within 48-72 hours. If your property has yet to have the NBN equipment installed you could expect to wait up to 3-4 weeks for a technician to complete the installation.
NBN technologies explained
Fibre to the Network (FTTN). With FTTN, fibre-optic cable runs to the node or network equipment box on your street before switching to the existing copper underground to cover the remaining distance to your premises. Speeds on an FTTN connection essentially hinge on how close your premises is to the node: the closer you are, the closer you will get to the theoretical maximum speeds of 100Mbps/40Mbps available on a Premium NBN connection. This process has affectionately become known as "node lotto". The quality of the copper line in your street can also impact performance.
Note that even if you do happen to have the node directly in front of your house, the copper might still run down the street before looping back to your premises. It’s best to check with your ISP on what your actual line distance is so that you can get a better idea of what speeds you can expect to receive.
Over 50% of Australians will be connected to the NBN via FTTN. A general rule of thumb is that if you connect to the Internet with an ADSL connection, then there’s a good chance you’ll end up with a FTTN connection to the NBN.
Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC). HFC, also simply referred to as "cable", works in much the same way as FTTN in that it uses fibre-optic cable all the way to a central node in a neighbourhood, but coaxial cable is then used instead of copper to connect the premises to the node. Coaxial has traditionally been used to deliver pay TV services such as Foxtel and the likes of Telstra and Optus have both offered cable Internet over those very same coaxial lines.
It is expected that up to 27% of Australian premises will be connected to the NBN through HFC. HFC is also compatible with new technologies, such as DOCSIS 3.1, which has the potential to offer gigabit speeds.
Fibre to the Building (FTTB). FTTB works in the same way as FTTN, but instead of installing the node on your street, it is installed in your building’s basement or communications cupboard. To enable this type of connection, NBN installs active equipment (a DSLAM) to deliver the final connection over the copper network using vectored VDSL2 technology. Customers accessing an FTTB connection will need to purchase their own VDSL2 modem or use one supplied by their service provider. Access speeds achievable on FTTB range from a theoretical maximum of 12/1 Mbps with a Basic NBN connection up to a 100/40 Mbps with a Premium NBN connection. The actual speeds you'll see in practice will depend on many factors such as the quality of the copper wiring in the building, distance from the active equipment and any signal interference.
Fibre to the Premises/Home (FTTP/FTTH). Running fibre-optic cable all the way to your home is essentially the gold standard of fibre Internet connections and this is precisely what an FTTP connection delivers. The fibre is either laid in the ground or comes to your home via overhead lines. FTTP connections can more consistently deliver advertised speeds and are not affected by the distance of your home to the broader network (also referred to as the "local fibre access node"). On an FTTP connection, you should consistently get the speeds you pay for – provided your ISP has bought enough network capacity to combat congestion during peak times, that is.
FTTP connections are also capable of faster download speeds than those currently offered: customers will eventually be able to get connections as fast as 1Gbps, or 10 times faster than the other technologies being used for the National Broadband Network. Unfortunately, the chances of your area using FTTP are slim. According to NBN Co’s 2017 corporate plan, between 17% and 21% of premises will be connected to the NBN via FTTP.
Fixed Wireless and Satellite. Not to be confused with mobile broadband, fixed wireless is where a fibre-optic cable is run to a local transmission tower. The network signal is then transmitted wirelessly to a line of sight antenna fitted on the customer’s roof. A single tower can service homes and businesses located within a maximum radius of 14km. Fixed wireless is primarily being used to connect rural and regional Australians to the NBN.
According to NBN Co, approximately 5% of premises will be connected to the NBN via fixed wireless. The fastest speeds fixed wireless customers can hope to achieve are provided with a Standard Plus (nbn50) NBN connection, and can theoretically go as high as 50Mbps for downloads and 20Mbps for uploads. That said, wireless services are more susceptible to interference than fixed-line services, and real-world speeds are likely to be much lower than the stated maximums.
Meanwhile, NBN Co’s satellite service called Sky Muster uses two satellites to deliver Internet service to homes and businesses located in remote or rural locations where premises are spread out geographically over many square kilometres. A satellite dish is installed on the premises which receives the NBN network signal from the Sky Muster satellite.
Sky Muster customers can choose between Basic and Standard NBN connections. This equates to theoretical maximum speeds of 25Mbps for downloads and 5Mbps for uploads, but again, the wire-free nature of satellite means you're unlikely to see such high speeds in practice. It is expected that up to 2% of Australians or 400,000 homes and businesses will be connected to the NBN through satellite.
|Technology||Population covered||Technician installation required|
|Fibre to the Premises (FTTP)||~25%||Yes|
|Fibre to the Node (FTTN)||~29%||No|
|Fibre to the Building (FTTB)||~11%||No|
|Sky Muster Satellite||~3%||Yes|
Step 3: Installing your new end-user equipment
Once the NBN installation is complete and your service provider has completed its network configuration, you should be able to connect to the NBN using your new NBN-compatible router or modem. You can either purchase a modem or receive one from your ISP.
If you're in the NBN Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP), Fixed Wireless or Satellite footprints, your Internet connection will be delivered to a single port on the NBN-provided connection box (or NTD). To share your Internet connection with multiple devices within your home, you may need a new NBN-compatible router with Wi-Fi functionality. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) may supply you with a compatible router as part of your plan, or you may need to purchase the router yourself. If you're looking for advice on the best router to buy, check out our in-depth comparison of 26 of the top NBN routers on the market.
If you're in the NBN Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN) or Fibre-to-the-Building (FTTB) footprints, your Internet connection will be delivered to the first phone port at your premises. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) should provide you with an NBN-compatible VDSL modem.
Phone porting 101
During this period, it is important that you do not cancel your existing phone service until your phone number has been successfully ported to your new provider. Cancelling your service early may lead to a permanent loss of your phone number.
Closing tips for a smooth transition to the NBN
- Inform the NBN if you have any essential emergency devices.
- Check with your equipment provider to see if your equipment and devices will be compatible.
- Check again with your Internet service provider before signing up for a plan.
- Do it ahead of time. You have an 18-month window between the NBN arriving in your area and your old connection being cut off. This window is the time to get in touch with any equipment providers, as well as consider different NBN plans and get in touch with those providers.
Step 4: Congratulations! You're now connected to the National Broadband Network
After getting connected to the NBN
Once you have your NBN service up and running, run some speed tests to determine whether or not performance matches up with the speed tier you’re subscribed to (ensure you’re using a wired connection when performing the speed test for accurate results). Also, check the sync speeds listed on your modem’s administration page. If there is a significant gap between the sync speeds and the results from speed tests, it points to congestion on your ISP’s network. Another telltale sign of congestion is if speeds slow to a crawl during peak times, such as in the evening. Contact your ISP to see if it can fix the issue, or failing that, try another service provider.
A new and fast NBN connection means that you can look forward to higher quality Internet TV and streaming services and an improved connection for gaming.
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