The ultimate guide for switching to the NBN

Once the NBN is available in your area you have 18 months to move your services over. Learn how to switch your services to the NBN in this complete guide.

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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 online NBN tracker. 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.

However, it can still be hard to know which NBN plan to choose. We've created a simple quiz designed to deliver a personalised comparison of NBN plans that cater to your needs.

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

nbn-fttn

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.

nbn-hfc

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.

nbn-fttb

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.

nbn-fttp

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.

nbn-fixed-wireless

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
Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial
(HFC)
~27% Yes
Fixed Wireless ~5% Yes
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.
Back to top

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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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!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

  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!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

  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.

      Cheers,
      Ash

    • 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.

      Best,

      Jonathan

  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.

      Best,
      Maria

  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.

      Best,
      Maria

  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.

      Cheers,
      Liezl

  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.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

  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.

      Cheers,
      Rench

  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.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

  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.

      Cheers,
      Harold

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