What to do in an NBN outage
Internet down in your area? Here’s how to get your Internet back up and running.
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Internet outages shouldn't be a regular occurrence, but they do happen. Find out whether it's you or the NBN, and what you can do about it.
Check if there's an outage
The first step is to see whether there's an NBN outage in your area or if it's just happening to you. One reliable way to check for outages is to visit your Internet provider's network status page using mobile data or similar.
Here are the network status pages for popular providers, though if yours isn't on the list you can usually find it easily by Googling "network status" and your provider's name.
Some providers will also post real-time network status updates on their social media accounts, often Facebook or Twitter.
Your second, slightly less reliable option is to go to a website like Down Detector, where users can report network issues they're experiencing. Usually, a huge spike in the number of user-submitted reports indicates an outage, although it's more accurate with larger providers like Telstra or Optus.
Restart your modem
While "turn it off and on again" may be the most common tech advice you'll receive, it can often help. Your modem is in charge of maintaining the connection between you and your Internet provider, so rebooting it can clear errors or problems that are stopping it from doing its job.
1. Turn off the power switch on your modem or unplug it
2. Leave it off for at least 30 seconds
3. Restore the power and turn your modem back on
4. Leave it for two minutes or more so it can reconfigure itself
Call your provider for tech support
If there's no outage and restarting your modem didn't help, there's likely some other issue in your house with your connection. It's worth calling up your provider's tech support line for assistance.
- Aussie Broadband: 1300 880 905 (8am–12am, 7 days)
- Belong: 1300 235 664 (7am–12am, 7 days)
- Dodo: 13 36 36 (9am–6pm, Monday to Friday)
- iiNet: 13 22 58 (24/7)
- Internode: 1300 788 233 (7am–12am, 7 days)
- iPrimus: 13 17 89
- MyRepublic: Contact MyRepublic online
- Optus: 133 937 (8am–8pm, 7 days)
- Telstra: 13 22 00
- TPG: 1300 997 271 (8am–12am, Monday to Friday, 9am–9pm weekends)
Get an NBN plan with automatic 4G backup
Some providers sell modems with their plans that switch to the 4G mobile network when the NBN crashes and burns, so you can stay online. Currently, there are four providers that offer NBN plans with 4G back-up: Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, and Tangerine.
Unlike the rest, Tangerine's backup requires you to pay extra: upfront for the 4G backup modem and monthly for the backup function itself.
A couple of NBN business providers also offer 4G back-up modems with their plans to ensure that small businesses can still run during an outage.
How is your NBN affected by a power outage?
The majority of NBN connections will stop working during a power outage. However, a couple of connection types can still partially function:
- Fixed Wireless and Satellite NBN customers may still have a home phone connected to copper telephone lines. So long as your handset has non-mains power, you can still make phone calls.
- Fibre to the Premises connections come with a backup battery by default that can provide about five hours of power. This means your Internet will still function if you can connect a device like a laptop to your NBN box via an ethernet cable (since your modem will lose power). You will also be able to make calls with a self-powered handset.
- All other NBN connections are out of luck. You won't be able to use the Internet or make phone calls from your home line during a power outage.
Why do NBN outages happen?
There are plenty of reasons that your NBN may stop working. Here are the main reasons:
Network congestion. Heavy loads upon a network can cause it to falter or fail. Too many people online at once can overload the network and cause serious problems for some or all users. No one likes slow Internet, and while there are many ways to make your Internet faster, sometimes the network can't handle it and goes out.
Natural events. Believe it or not, the weather can actually affect the status of your Internet connection. Rain might breach underground cables or wind could bring a signal pole or tree crashing down. This kind of damage will need to be repaired by professional maintenance teams.
Poor installation. If the NBN isn't actually out in your area, and it's just affecting your house, it might just be due to poor installation. This is something you're in control of fixing. If something wasn't set up correctly or the wrong cable was plugged into a socket, your connection could be unreliable or simply not work at all.
Power outage. The NBN equipment in your home needs power to work. During a blackout, your Internet will stop working on most NBN connection types. There are a couple of connection types that come with a back-up battery, which means your NBN will still function. We go into more detail about the difference between power and NBN outages below.
Old tech. Out-of-date hardware can be incompatible with newer networks. If you've had your hardware for quite a while, it might simply be time to upgrade and grab a new model.
Compensation for regular NBN outages
There's a chance you could be entitled to compensation if your NBN outages last long enough or are frequent enough. According to the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), you might apply for compensation if you can prove the outage caused you to lose money or be severely disadvantaged.
For example, if a customer with an Internet service experiences a week-long outage, they might be entitled to a couple of forms of compensation. This could include not only a week's worth of network fee reimbursement but also a fee for a loss incurred. The customer may even be entitled to a replacement service at the expense of the telecommunications company.
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