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The ultimate guide on how to connect to the NBN

Once the NBN is available in your area you have 18 months to switch your services over.


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It was a big enough pain getting your Internet connection sorted the first time, and now with the National Broadband Network (NBN) on its way, you're faced with doing it all over again. Luckily, while it may seem like a mammoth task to connect to the new network, there's not actually that much you have to do.

In this guide, we break down connecting to the NBN into a few manageable steps to get your broadband swap completed with the fewest complications possible.

What is the NBN?

The NBN is a project designed to bring faster Internet speeds to all Australia using a mix of high-speed fibre optic cables and other technologies. The bad news is that no matter how happy you are with your trusty ADSL or cable connection, you'll be forced to switch to the NBN within 18 months of it being rolled out, since your old service will cease.

For most Australians, the NBN will be your best, if not only, option if you need to switch. However, in select areas private networks are available that offer similar services to the NBN, so it's important to do your research and find what's right for you.

With the NBN, you're pretty likely to end up with a faster service than you started with. Follow our five simple steps to connect to the NBN and make your transition smoother than polished copper.

Step 1: Review the basics

Every journey has to start somewhere, and your first step should be figuring out what you've got to work with. If the NBN hasn't been installed where you live yet, don't worry! You'll get a note from NBN Co. or your provider when it's on its way.

Otherwise, you should start by determining which NBN connection type you have, since this will limit what connection speeds you have access to and what plans you can buy. You can use our NBN tracker to see which connection is available at your location. We have an in-depth guide on each connection type if you want to know more, but your connection will be one of the following:

  • Fibre to the node (FTTN). High-speed fibre optic cables are run to a box on your street and then connected to houses via old copper wire. The further away you are from the node, the worse your connection will be.
  • Hybrid-fibre coaxial (HFC). Similar to FTTN, but existing pay TV cables are used to complete the connection.
  • Fibre to the premises (FTTP). The best connection type available, where high-speed fibre optics are hooked up directly to your house. Fewer than 20% of Australians get this.
  • Fibre to the building (FTTB). For apartments and divided houses. Fibre optics are run into a box in your building's basement, and copper carries the signal from there to each apartment.
  • Fixed wireless and satellite. The most limited connection, for rural and regional customers. Signals are broadcast to a tower or orbiting satellite using an antenna and back to your house.

Unfortunately, the NBN is a bit of a lottery: you're stuck with whatever connection you get. If you aren't pleased with what you've got, you can consider mobile broadband or home wireless broadband as alternatives to a slow or unreliable connection.

Step 2: Compare plans and providers

Now that you know your connection technology, you're almost ready to size up plans and providers using our comparison page. All that's left is to figure out how much data you think you'll need, and which of the NBN's four speed tiers you want, which you can skim in our quick summary table below.

Speed tierMaximum download/upload speedWhat's it good for?Connection types supported
NBN 1212 Mbps/1 MbpsIndividuals. Light Internet use such as emails, social media and browsing.All
NBN 2525 Mbps/2 MbpsSmall households. Light Internet use and basic video streaming.All
NBN 5050 Mbps/20 MbpsFour or more individuals. Medium to heavy use, like HD video streaming or lots of people online at once.FTTN, HTC, FTTP, FTTB.
NBN 100100 Mbps/40 MbpsFour or more heavy users, or a small business. Lots of gaming, 4K video streaming, everyone using the Internet simultaneously.Potentially FTTN, HTC, FTTB. Best chance at promised speeds on a FTTP connection.

Have a speed or two in mind? Then you're ready to get comparing. Here's what matters most when it comes to choosing plans:

  • Typical evening speed. NBN speed tiers give maximum limits, but the reality is that networks slow down when tons of people are online. Each provider will have a typical evening speed on its plans representing what it can actually deliver during the heavily congested hours of 7 - 11pm. Use this as a better guide for speed than the tier alone.
  • Cost. Not all plans are equal, and some providers simply charge more. Make sure that extra $10 a month is worth it.
  • Data. Tons of plans give unlimited data these days, but you might be able to squeeze some value out of a smaller cap. If you aren't too heavy on the streaming or downloads, consider whether a limited plan would suit.

Step 3: Installation by technician

With your options compared and new NBN plan purchased, you're through the hardest part of the process. There are only a few small details left to settle before your Internet is up and ready to go.

Once you've purchased your plan, your provider will let you know if it's necessary for a technician to visit your property and finalise the installation. If not, or they don't need you to be around for it, great – skip ahead to the next step.

Otherwise, you'll have to make an installation appointment and stay home to let the technician access your property. Such visits should be free and usually over in less than a few hours. Your connection should activate within 48 - 72 hours.

In rare cases where you're part of an entirely new development the NBN hasn't been connected to, you may be charged a one-off $300 installation fee. If you aren't in a super new development or "greenfield" area, you don't have to worry about a thing.

TechnologyPopulation coveredTechnician installation required
Fibre to the Premises (FTTP)~25%Yes
Fibre to the Node (FTTN)~29%No
Fibre to the Building (FTTB)~11%No
Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial
Fixed Wireless~5%Yes
Sky Muster Satellite~3%Yes

Step 4: Installing your new equipment

Even though there's a bunch of different technologies carrying your signal in the outside world, there are really only two pieces of equipment you have to worry about on your end: your router and modem.

Modem. The modem will be supplied free with your NBN connection by NBN Co. and contain easy instructions on how to hook it up. This will connect your house to the external NBN infrastructure.
Router. Your router plugs into your modem and is responsible for allowing multiple other devices in your house to access the Internet. You can either buy the default router recommended by your provider at plan purchase, or shop around for your own.

With that sorted, there's just a couple of final questions to ask yourself before you're all set up.

  • Do you want a home phone line? Most providers will still offer you the option of a home phone line, but you'll have to actively sign up for it. Rather than a traditional copper line, you'll be provided with a Voice over IP service that converts voice signals into data and transmits them via the NBN. Your new phone service won't function when the Internet goes down or during a power outage.
  • If you want to keep your same home phone number, it's crucial that you don't cancel your old phone service until your number has been ported to your new provider, or you risk losing it permanently.

  • Do you have any devices which use the copper telephone line? If you have an alarm, payment terminal or other device which uses existing copper telephone wires to function, ask your provider the following questions:
    • Will my device work properly when connected to the NBN?
    • If yes, can you recommend a specific service that will work well with my device?
    • If no, can you recommend an alternative or upgrade that will work?
    • Will my device still work during a power outage?
    • Will there be any outages during the switch-over?

Summary checklist for a smooth transition to the NBN

  • Determine your connection type and desired speed tier.
  • Browse plans and providers, selecting one that suits your needs.
  • Inform your provider if you have any essential emergency or business devices, and find out how they'll function on the NBN.
  • Connect up your router and modem as per the included instructions.
  • Do it ahead of time. You have 18 months after the NBN is installed to get everything sorted, after which your old services will be permanently disconnected.

Step 5: Connected!

If all went well, you should now be the proud owner of a fancy new Internet connection. Great! Before you forget, you might want to run a couple of speed tests to make sure you're getting what you paid for. Test it during the morning to get a baseline reading, and compare it to a reading at night when congestion is at its highest.

If you aren't, or if your connection is unreliable or you're having other problems, you might want to check our guide to common connection problems and how to fix them. Otherwise, enjoy your new NBN broadband connection, and happy browsing.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need new equipment when I get 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 provider 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 get the NBN?

If your modem is fairly recent you may not have to upgrade 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 over IP (VoIP)-enabled plan. Rural customers who are relying on satellite or wireless services will be able to continue using their home phone on the existing copper wire network.

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23 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    LINDAOctober 20, 2018

    My mother only has a home phone currently. She doesn’t have a computer or internet connection and will not be getting one. What does she need to do to connect to the nbn?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniOctober 20, 2018Staff

      Hi Linda,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      First, you need to check if nbn is available in your mother’s area. Once it’s available, you need to call the service provider you wish to have your mother’s home phone service connected with for a tech visit. Please note that old plans may not be available and home phone plans are basically bundled with the internet service.

      I hope this helps.

      Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any other enquiries.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!


  2. Default Gravatar
    PeterMay 12, 2018

    Is there any NBN plans for aged pensioners at discount rates?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniMay 12, 2018Staff

      Hi Peter,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      Although concessions are available on most services for pensioners, there are no discounts available on broadband plans. However, there are a few ways to get the best value for money on an internet connection. I suggest that you contact providers around you like Telstra, TPG, Dodo or Optus regarding your senior discount or ways to cut your monthly subscription fee.

      Prices and service vary drastically depending on location. The Government is taking steps to improve the infrastructure through the NBN but this service is still in its early stages.

      As a friendly reminder, while we do not represent any company we feature on our pages, we can offer you general advice.

      Yes, there are some

      I hope this helps.

      Have a great day!


  3. Default Gravatar
    carloFebruary 18, 2018

    I have been given the outdated FTTN technology by NBN Co which provides a poor overall experience even though I have an excellent service provider. Am I subsidising the consumers who were given FTTP? If so, is there any compensation available from NBN Co for customers like myself?

    • Default Gravatar
      Ash MunozMarch 8, 2018

      Hi Carlo,

      Thank you for reaching out to us.

      One of the disadvantages of having a Fibre to the Node (FTTN) connection is that the farther you are in the node the slower your speed connection becomes unlike with FTTP, the fibre is connected directly to the premise so it allows faster uploads and downloads.

      You may contact NBN Co at 1800 687 626 to have more information about the distance of your residence from the node and the options to have your connection speed up.

      I hope this helps.

      Please do not hesitate to reach out to us again if you have additional questions.


    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JonathanMarch 7, 2018Staff

      Hi Carlo, thanks for your inquiry.

      If you are dissatisfied with your NBN service, it would be best to contact your retail service provider first. If your complaint is not resolved to your satisfaction, you can contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO).

      I hope this helps.



  4. Default Gravatar
    SueOctober 17, 2017

    We are being put onto fixed wireless . Providers told me we have to go on Voip as the old copper
    lines will be turned off. I understand this is not correct for fixed wireless, as we have little or none
    mobile reception we need to keep landline

    • Default Gravatar
      MariaOctober 17, 2017

      Hi Sue,

      You might want to reach out to the providers directly regarding your concern so they may advise on what they can offer for your preference on keeping your landline.

      You may find compare providers on this page on Fixed Wireless NBN Plans as well as read up on the service.

      Please enter your complete home address and make use of the filters so you can see your options.

      I hope this helps.


  5. Default Gravatar
    DavidSeptember 16, 2017

    Nbn FTTC is about to be connected to my house.
    Existing telecom copper has a central splitter fitted (original reason for fitting no longer exists).
    Do I need to remove the central splitter, or can it be left in place.

    • Default Gravatar
      MariaSeptember 19, 2017

      Hey David,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      In general, the necessary equipment to switch to NBN connection would be provided and installed by the NBN technician.

      As the installation procedure differs between providers and also depend on your present connection, this information would be best confirmed directly from the installer.

      You may check on our table for your preferred provider, click on “Go to site” to be directed to their main website where you can check for their contact page.

      I hope this helps.


  6. Default Gravatar
    DoriSeptember 12, 2017

    New house, no landline phone, do we need to get a line installed to get nbn? Using net gear 4gx wifi for internet at the moment.

    • Default Gravatar
      LiezlSeptember 13, 2017

      Hi Dori,

      Thanks for your question. With NBN connection, you don’t need to have a home phone line. NBN broadband plans can be provided with no need to keep an active telephone service. You may refer to our guide here more information.


  7. Default Gravatar
    WolfcastAugust 4, 2017

    Was wondering, we are in Perth and fixed line connection option is available. I have lived in my house for 3 years the premises is 20yrs old. Have phone points but I’ve never had it connected so don’t know house phone number and whether or not the line still works. This is a semi rural area.

    • Default Gravatar
      JonathanAugust 4, 2017

      Hello Wolfcast,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      We need to do a serviceability check on your address on this page which would confirm whether the line in your house is still active. You don’t need to worry about the phone number as your provider will tell you if you can use the old number or get a new one, also if you can do self-installation or you need a technician.

      After confirming that there are services available, you can choose on the list of providers by weighing your household needs. You may click “Go to Site” green button of your chosen provider to proceed with your application.

      Hope this helps.


  8. Default Gravatar
    DominicJuly 12, 2017

    I currently have ADSL with active PSTN line. I also have 2 VOIP numbers with VOIP Handsets. How will switching to NBN impact the VOIP? I need to be able to keep the existing numbers and may also look to getting services from a different provider.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      RenchJuly 16, 2017Staff

      Hi Dominic,

      Thanks for reaching out to us. Please note that we are not affiliated with any company we feature on our site and so we can only offer you general advice.

      In most cases, ISP can bring your existing telephone number over to the NBN network. You can keep your existing numbers and it will not affect your VOIP.

      If you already own a modem/router, then we suggest that you check with its manufacturer to see if it is capable of supporting NBN broadband.

      Typically your address can be upgraded to NBN broadband with little to no downtime. More often than not you can continue to use your existing services until your new NBN equipment has been installed and your service has been activated.

      Remember, Moving to NBN broadband will not necessarily cancel your existing broadband and phone services. Once you’ve upgraded, please contact your existing provider to ensure your old services are cancelled, otherwise you may continue to be billed for them.

      Hope this information helped.


  9. Default Gravatar
    TerryJuly 1, 2017

    Why are they only installing FTTN in my area instead of FTTP like many other areas have already?

    • Default Gravatar
      JonathanJuly 1, 2017

      Hi Terry!

      I can sense your disappointment on this development. :(

      NBN Co is the one’s who decide which type of technology will take place in a certain area. However, they are offering NBN Technology Choice program should you want to pursue FTTP. You can read about that here.

      If you think FTTP request is too expensive, we have some tips on how you can improve your FTTN speeds.

      Hope this helps.


  10. Default Gravatar
    RockyNovember 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.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      HaroldNovember 16, 2016Staff

      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.


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