National Broadband Network (NBN)

The NBN is an Australia-wide project designed to transform our telephone and internet services by upgrading the current copper networks with NBN’s super-fast fibre-optic cables.
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Each night across Australia, the internet provides many households with dramas, conflicts and mysteries. Not through the content they’re watching, but with fights about who’s slowing down the connection, and trying to figure out why downloads won’t work. But problems like these should be decreasing thanks the National Broadband Network, or NBN.

What is the NBN?

The National Broadband Network (NBN) is a project to upgrade Australia’s outdated existing copper wire internet infrastructure with a new technology mix which includes fibre optic cables in many cases.

Why the change?

Copper wire was never designed for the demands of today’s hyper-connected, data-driven world. With the NBN, more of Australia will be able to access a faster and more reliable service. And that means better access to things like internet banking, online shopping, getting the latest news and gossip from family and friends, and streaming movies, TV shows and music.

When will it be completed?

More than 11 million homes and businesses1 can already access the NBN. But the network is being rolled out progressively. You can view updates on the NBN Co website here.

Is the NBN available in my area?

Phone us on 13 19 20 to speak one of our broadband team members who can let you know, or you can check directly on the NBN Co website.

How fast is the NBN?

There are a number of speed tiers available on different NBN plans but your NBN’s speed will also depend on a range of factors, including whether you’re using an Ethernet cable or WiFi, what content you’re downloading, the connection type available at your address and how many people using your connection. As a general guide, please see the section below on NBN speed tiers.

So what speed plan do I need?

The speed of the plan you choose will depend on how many people will be using the connection and how you’ll be using it. The typical evening speed will vary depending on the provider you choose and not all speeds will be available in all circumstances. Below are the five speed tiers put forward by the NBN2:

Home Basic 1:

Wholesale products with typical busy period speeds of 12Mbps. Designed for basic usage.

Should be suitable for:

  • Sending emails
  • Making phone calls

Home Basic 2:

Designed for a household with minimum online users. Ideal for general browsing, emails, and standard definition streaming of video content. Download speeds should reach at least 15Mbps during a typical busy period.

Should be suitable for:

  • One or two people online at the same time
  • Browsing the web and social media
  • Sending emails
  • Streaming music
  • Standard definition (SD) video streaming

Home Standard:

Designed for a household with several users and devices. Also ideal for HD streaming, playing games online, and working from home. Download speeds during a typical busy period should reach at least 30mbps.

  • Should be suitable for:
  • Three or four people online simultaneously
  • High-definition video streaming
  • Downloading files
  • Playing games online
  • Working from home (including video conference via platforms such as Skype and Zoom)

Home Fast:

Designed for a household several users and devices. Potentially ideal for those who enjoy 4K streaming, downloading files, and using multiple devices simultaneously. Download speeds should reach at least 60Mbps during a typical busy period.

Should be suitable for:

  • Five or more people online simultaneously
  • Streaming high-definition video (4K)
  • Downloading large files

Home Superfast:

Designed for a household with several devices and users. This could be ideal for those who perform a lot of high bandwidth streaming, such as concurrent streaming of 4K and 8K video, downloading large files, and using several devices simultaneously. Download speeds should exceed 150Mbps during a typical busy period.

Should be suitable for:

  • Five or more people online at the same time
  • Concurrent 4K and 8K streaming
  • Faster downloading of game updates
  • Faster downloading and uploading of large files

Home Ultrafast:

Home Ultrafast is designed to support all of the same activities listed above in Home Superfast, however, with an added level of performance. It is designed to prepare homes for the new wave of digital technologies that could soon be standard in Australian residences.

Should be suitable for:

  • Five or more people online simultaneously
  • Concurrent streaking of 4K and 8K
  • Faster downloading of game updates
  • Faster downloading and uploading of large files
  • Another level of experience

How do I connect?

First things first: you won’t be connected to the NBN automatically. Once your neighbourhood becomes NBN-ready, you'll be contacted about moving to an NBN plan. If you’re connected to a service migrating to the NBN (such as ADSL), you'll then have 18 months to make the switch (after this time, your existing landline and ADSL broadband services will be permanently switched off) [2]. Because the NBN is effectively a ‘wholesaler’, you won’t connect directly with them. Instead, you’ll need to choose a service provider, such as Optus, Belong, or MyRepublic, who’ll make the necessary arrangements for installing your service.

Can I connect to the NBN if I’m renting?

First thing to check is if the NBN is available at the property. If so, and there is not an existing connection already set up, you may need to get permission from your landlord or real estate agent. There may be work that needs to get done, like installing a utility box on the outside of the property and a connection box on the inside.

How does it work?

Most of Australia will access the NBN through connection options using fibre optic cables, but some rural areas will need to use satellite and fixed wireless technology. When you’re contacted to let you know that your area is NBN-ready, you should also be informed of the type of technology you’ll be using. The different NBN connections available are3

  • Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP): Generally considered the fastest NBN connection because the fibre optic cable feeds directly to your home.
  • Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN): With this option, the fibre optic cable feeds into your street via a box called a node which then connects to your home through existing copper lines.
  • Fibre-to-the-Building (FTTB): Created for multi-residential buildings, with this system you connect to the NBN through a node centrally located in your building.
  • Fibre-to-the-Curb (FTTC): Similar to FTTN, but rather than connecting to a node serving your whole street, it delivers the NBN to a dedicated pit outside your home.
  • HFC Cable: When an existing pay TV or cable network forms the final part of your NBN connection, you access it through a Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) cable.
  • Fixed Wireless: Generally found in rural areas, this option transmits broadband data to your building using radio signals.
  • Sky MusterTM Satellite: For this connection, a dish on your home receives an NBN network signal via satellite.

Do I need a modem?

Yes, you connect to the NBN via a modem. You may need a new one or if you’ve bought one already you may need to configure it to the required settings outlined by the specific provider. If you’re connected to NBN via fibre to the node (FTTN) or fibre to the basement (FTTB) you will need a VDSL2 compatible modem. With a fibre to the premises (FTTP) or Fixed Wireless connection, you’ll only need a wireless router. If your current modem is not compatible, your service provider will usually have plans with options for a modem. We suggest checking the modem requirements of your connection type with your chosen service provider4

Can I change my connection type?

The type of technology connecting your home or business to the NBN will be decided by NBN Co, based on factors like cost-effectiveness and how quickly it can be connected in a given area. But if you decide it’s not right for you, you may be able to change your NBN access technology. An example would be choosing to switch your home from a Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN) connection to Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) option. However, this can be an expensive task and may not be worth the effort. In some cases, you may be able to improve your internet speed by simply switching to a faster plan.

Here's how it works. It’s called the Technology Choice Program, and there are two ways to apply. With an Individual Premises Switch, you apply to change to technology to your home or business only. The other option is an Area Switch, where a group of eligible premises (for example, 150 to 300 homes), change to a different technology.

The costs of making these changes could vary from a couple of thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars for an Individual Premises Switch, while an Area Switch could cost tens of thousands through to millions of dollars in the case of a whole town.

Alternatively, if you are unhappy with the current NBN connection at your home, there could be other options. Home Wireless Broadband which uses either 4G or 5G technology, could be a cheaper alternative than changing the infrastructure to your home or business.

Can I keep my home phone on the NBN?

Once the NBN is available in your area, your existing home phone and internet services will be disconnected within 18 months (depending on your current connection type), so you'll need to switch to an NBN plan which includes a home phone before the disconnection deadline. The good news is that you can usually keep your home phone number. Your phone will now work using the internet rather than the previous copper wire connection. This technology is called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

What happens if there’s a power outage?

If the power to your area goes off or the internet is down, it will affect both your home phone and internet services. Your phone won’t work during a power outage, unless you have a battery backup system installed. As a precaution, it’s a good idea to keep a charged mobile phone handy.

How much does the NBN cost?

When you decide on a service provider, you may need to pay an installation or hardware (modem) fee; you’ll have to check with each provider. Next you’ll choose a monthly NBN plan, the cost of which will vary depending on the supplier and speed of your connection. NBN plan pricing can vary, and with iSelect we can help you compare plans online to find one that suits your lifestyle and budget.

Why does the NBN slow down at night?

You no doubt remember the phrase “the information super-highway”? Well, just like a physical highway, the NBN gets congested and slows down during rush hour. And for the internet, the busiest times are between around 7pm to 11pm (when everyone is watching Netflix and TikToks, chatting with friends online, or just Googling random stuff). So expect your connection to be at its most sluggish at night. That said, how much your internet potentially slows down at night can differ based on your area, household usage, connection type, and plan.

Will my medical alarm, security alarm, EFTPOS machine or fax machine work with the NBN?

A lot of devices like medic alarms, back-to-base alarms, EFTPOS machines, and fax machines are connected to existing phone lines. But you’ll be relieved to hear that some of these will also work over the NBN network. If you have any of these devices, check with your internet provider or the service provider (such as alarm company) because you may need to order a specific type of phone service on the NBN™ network to make sure they continue working. And if you have a medical alarm service, you will be asked to register it on NBN Co's Medical Alarm Register.

How should I choose a service provider?

There’s no getting around it; finding an NBN service provider can be a bit daunting. There’s lots of competition, the industry is constantly changing, and if you’re not really sure what you need, you can wind up paying far too much. Luckily, we can do some of the hard work for you. You can compare a range of providers and plans online with iSelect, or if you’d prefer to talk to one of our broadband team members phone us on 13 19 20.