The NBN is here

The ultimate guide for switching to the NBN

Once the NBN is available in your area you only have 18 months to move your services over. Learn how to switch 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 the existing or upgrade the existing telecommunications networks that we currently use to receive phone services and to access the Internet.The upgrade to the National Broadband Network is compulsory and isn't done automatically. The existing Telstra phone network and ADSL/2+ services delivered over the network will be switched off 18 months after the area goes live. However, you'll get plenty of warning from your existing provider and from nbn who will mail you to notify you of the disconnection.

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 to find out.  Read our comprehensive NBN rollout guide for more information.

Step 1: Compare plans and service providers


Check your address

Check to see if your area is ready for the NBN and the type of connection that will be used for your premises by entering your address in our online tracker. Depending on how far along you are on the rollout process, you should see a projected ready for service date and the technology rollout type that will be deployed in your area. If the nbn network is not yet available in your area, you can also register to receive an email when connection is ready. 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 residential status.

Compare NBN plans

Our NBN tracker will direct you towards plans available in your area. If you would like to find the best NBN plan for your needs, we would recommend using our broadband plan comparison engine, which compares over 30 broadband providers and over 800 NBN plans.

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Step 2: Installation

Some NBN technologies will require a technician to visit your premises to perform a network installation. A standard NBN installation is free of charge, however, some ISPs may charge an installation fee. It is important to note you usually can't choose between NBN technologies directly unless you are willing to pay the (often substantial) price difference for an upgrade.

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 your internet provider. 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 can expect to wait up to 3-4 weeks for a technician to complete the installation.

Are there any extra costs for installing the NBN?

As of April 1 2017, all connections made within areas identified as within the boundary of a new development will incur a $300 one-off charge. This charge will be paid by the broadband user in the following cases:

1. New customers living in a new development or "greenfield" area where there is not currently a connection, who are applying for Fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) services.
2. Customers who are applying for a Fibre to the Node (FTTN) and fixed wireless connection, in a new build that previously did not have an nbn™ connection point.

Click the tabs for an explanation and diagram of each NBN technology.

Fibre-to-the-Network (FTTN) - With FTTN, fibre-optic cable runs to the node or network equipment box on your street and, thereafter, utilises the existing copper underground to connect 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 100Mbps/40Mbps speeds. 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.

nbn-fttn

Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) - HFC, also referred to as simply ‘cable’, works much in the same way as FTTN in that it uses fibre-optical 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.

nbn-hfc

Fibre-to-the-Basement (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 (DSLAM) to deliver the final connection over the copper network using vectored VDSL2 technology. Customers accessing an FTTB conncetion will need to purchase their own VDSL2 modem or will use one supplied by their service provider. Access speeds achievable on FTTB range from 12/1 Mbps and up to 100/40 Mbps depending on many factors such as the quality of the copper wiring in the building, distance from the active equipment and any signal interference.

nbn-fttb

Fibre-to-the-Premises/home (FTTP/FTTH) - Running fibre-optic cable all the way to your home is essentially the gold standard of internet connections and this is precisely what a FTTP connection delivers. The fibre is either laid either in the ground or comes to your home via overhead lines. FTTP connections can more consistently deliver advertised speeds and is 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.

FTTP connections are also capable of faster download speeds; 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’s 2017 corporate plan, between 17% and 21% of premises will be connected to the NBN via FTTP.

nbn-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 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 is 50Mbps in download speeds and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps.

Meanwhile, NBN’s satellite service called ‘Sky Muster’ uses two satellites to deliver internet service to homes and businesses located in a 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 get download speeds of up to 25Mbps and upload speeds of 5Mbps which is a fraction of the top tier speeds available on other NBN connection technologies. It is expected that up to 2% of Australians or 400,000 homes and business will be connected to the NBN through satellite.

nbn-fixed-wireless

TechnologyPopulation coveredTechnician Installation required
Fibre to the Premises
(FTTP)
~25%Yes
An NBN technician will come out to install the external NBN utility box and internal NBN connection box.
Fibre to the Node
(FTTN)
~29%No
(Unless speeds fail to reach the mandated 25 Mbps download speed requirement. In that case, NBN will install a central filter at the premises.)
Fibre to the Basement
(FTTB)
~11%No
(Unless speeds fail to reach the mandated 25 Mbps download speed requirement. In that case, NBN will install a central filter at the premises.)
Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial
(HFC)
~27%Unknown
(The installation process for HFC is currently still being developed ahead of the product launch in 2016)
Fixed Wireless~5%Yes
An NBN technician will come out to install the NBN wireless antenna on the rooftop and internal NBN connection box.
Sky Muster Satellite~3%Yes
An NBN technician will come out to install the NBN satellite dish on the rooftop and internal NBN connection box.

What you need to connect

The equipment you need to access the NBN network will depend on the NBN connection technology deployed in your area. Our online address checker will provide this information in addition to the list of service providers that service your area.

FTTP connections will require the installation of three pieces of equipment inside and outside your house - a utility box on the outside wall, a NBN connection box and a power supply with a backup battery on the inside of the house. These are provided and installed by an NBN technician.

The connection box and power supply should be placed in a location that is easily accessible, off the ground, clear of obstructions and within distance of a power outlet. The only piece of equipment you will need to supply is a wireless router to share the internet connection with the rest of your house. Simply connect a ethernet cable from your router to your NBN connection box to get going.

Similarly, HFC connections will require an NBN utility box outside and a connection box inside of the premises. You will need to supply your own cable modem in order to take advantage of the connection.

The installation process

When connecting to the NBN network for the first time, it is recommended that you keep your current internet connection active until your NBN service is up and running. In the case of FTTP, HFC, wireless and fixed satellite, a technician will need to come out and install the necessary equipment on your property. On the date of installation, you will have a four hour block of time allocated to you and someone over the age of 18 will need to be present during the length of the appointment.

While an NBN installer is not required for FTTN/B connections, an NBN Co technician will still be needed to complete the activation of your service.

Regardless of how the NBN network is delivered to your property, expect wait times of up to three weeks depending on the availability of NBN Co’s technicians in your area. Your ISP will always request the earliest available appointment (unless you request otherwise).

Once your ISP has activated the service, remember to cancel your old internet connection and phone line as this does not happen automatically.

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Step 3: Installing your new end user equipment


Once the NBN installation is complete and your service provider has completed their network configuration, you should be able to connect 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 in the NBN Fibre to the Node (FTTN) or Fibre to the Basement (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.

Move your home phone, devices and alarms to the NBN

The NBN is a huge improvement over the older network, but there are naturally a few differences in how it works. Before getting connected you need to make sure all your networked devices will still work afterwards.

If you have decided to go with a new service provider, you may wish to port your phone number over to the new provider to continue receiving calls made to your existing phone number.  Ask your new service provider to see if the phone porting option.

Phone porting 101

During this period, it is important that you do not to 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.

What types of devices and alarms will be affected by the NBN?

All of the following services use internet connections, so if you have any of the following in your home or business you should take a few steps before signing up for an NBN plan.

How to move devices to the NBN

Generally you’ll need to contact the equipment providers to make sure any devices will still work, although in some cases you will also need to inform the NBN, or contact a phone service provider.

Alarms, auto dialers, emergency call buttons, emergency phones

With any of these essential services you generally need to inform NBN of its existence to it can take steps to minimise disruption. You will also need to check with your device provider whether it will work with the NBN. Items which require you to inform the NBN include:

  • Medical alarms
  • Auto dialers
  • Emergency call buttons
  • Monitored fire alarms
  • Lift emergency phones

You need to:

  • Register your alarm with NBN. All you need to do is get in touch with it and provide your address and information about the alarm. This is to help minimise disruption of service while you switch to the NBN.
  • Check that your alarm will still work. Before signing up for an NBN internet plan, make sure to ask the alarm provider whether the device will work with the NBN.
  • Will my alarm work properly when connected to the NBN network?
  • Will my alarm be able dial during a power outage?
  • Are there any alternatives are there to using a landline connection
  • What costs involved in upgrading or getting a new device for the NBN?

Security alarms

Security alarms will often use network connections to inform the alarm services providers, or the premises owner, that it’s gone off. Alarms may not be compatible with your new NBN connection, so you should get in touch with the device provider to either look for alternatives, or get confirmation that it will still work.

  • Will my alarm work when connected to the NBN?
  • If yes, can you recommend a specific phone or internet service that will work best with my alarm?
  • If no, can you recommend an alternative or upgrade that will work?
  • Will my alarm still be able to dial out during a power outage?

EFTPOS and health claim terminals

Payment terminals often contact a range of service providers to help payments go smoothly. Health claim terminals, for example, will often contact health insurance providers over the internet.

You should check with your payment terminal provider whether or not your device will work when connected to the NBN, as well as plan for any downtime that may be involved while switching over.

  • Will my payment terminal work properly when connected to the NBN?
  • What specific services might work best with my device?
  • Will my terminal still be able to dial out during a power outage when connectd to the NBN?
  • What costs are involved in taking any actions needed?
  • Will there be any outages during the switch over?
  • Can I get after-hours installation to minimise business disruption, and are there any extra costs involved?

Fax and teletypewriter devices

Fax machines and teletypewriters may not be compatible with a new NBN connection. You need to contact your phone company and check whether they support these devices on an NBN network.

If not, or if your current provider does not support these on the NBN network, you may need to look into changing service providers or alternative devices.

Do I need new equipment when I receive the NBN?

You will often be able to keep the same equipment when connecting to the NBN, but it’s important to check beforehand in order to be sure. It depends largely on the type of equipment, how old it is and what kind of connections it uses. Whether it will be compatible may also depend on the type of NBN plan and technology you are switching to. Generally the equipment or device providers will be able to inform you what the options are, and what to look for in order to make sure your new connection is compatible. A large advantage of upgrading to a modem and home phone from your internet provider is the warranty and technical support that come with the devices.

Do I need a new modem to receive the NBN?

If your modem is fairly recent you may not have to switch modems to receive the NBN. Call your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to ensure your modem will be compatible with the NBN. Another key factor to whether your modem will be compatible with your NBN connection is the type of NBN technology you are receiving at your premises. Refer to the table below for the required modem specifications. Internet providers will typically provide an NBN-ready modem free of charge when they sign up for a new plan.

Type of NBN technologyRequired modem specification
nbn™ FTTP / Wireless / HFC / SatelliteEthernet WAN socket, either dedicated or shared port.
nbn™ FTTB / FTTNVDSL2 enabled modem.

Do I need a new home phone for the NBN?

Purchasing a new home phone device is not necessary to make calls on the NBN. To make calls on the NBN, all you need to do is plug your existing phone into the NBN box/ Network Termination Unit (NTU) and apply for a voice enabled plan. Rural customers who are relying on satellite or wireless services will continue to use their home phone on the copper wire network. You can also consider VoIP calling which lets you make phone calls through your internet connection.

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 18 months 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 provides, as well as consider different NBN plans and get in touch with those providers.

Step 4: Enjoy your new high-speed broadband experience!

Congratulations! You've now connected to the National Broadband Network.

What to do 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). Also check the sync speeds listed on your modem’s administrator page. If there is a significant gulf between the sync speeds and the results from speed tests, it points to congestion on the 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 they 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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4 Responses to How to switch to the NBN

  1. Default Gravatar
    Rocky | November 16, 2016

    With the NBN is it one house at a time that gets turn on, or is it that a whole area has to be connected before it is turn on.

    • Staff
      Harold | November 16, 2016

      Hello Rockey,

      Thank you for your question.

      Once NBN services become available in your area, it is time to migrate your existing landline phone and internet service over to the new network. Your current service provider may contact to inform you that the NBN has arrived at your location or nbn™ will notify you by mail for details about the upgrade process. Basically, NBN has to setup first within your area before you can avail their service.

      I hope this information has helped.

      Cheers,
      Harold

  2. Default Gravatar
    Peter | November 8, 2016

    What does NBN tier 1, etc. mean?

    • Staff
      Jason | November 8, 2016

      Hi Peter,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      The NBN is sold in five speed tiers, with data transfer rate ranging from 12 Mbps to 100 Mbps.
      Tier 1 can reach speeds of up to 12 Mbps download and up to 1 Mbps upload. It’s suited for standard household uses such as emails, browsing and other basic tasks. Tier 2 offers rates of up to 25 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload, Tier 3 offers up to 25 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload. Tier 4 offers up to 50 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload and Tier 5 can provide rates of up to 100 Mbps download and 40 Mbps upload. Price range may get more expensive once the tier gets higher.

      You can also check out this link for more NBN FAQs.

      Cheers,
      Jason

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