Business nbn™ and your modem
The nbn™ has finally arrived in your area, and you’re all set to switch your business to super fast broadband internet. But one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether you need a modem, a router or a modem router, and what kind it will need to be.
While modems and routers are often used interchangeably, they aren’t the same thing, so let’s start by defining exactly what each of them does.
- Modem – a modem connects you to the internet. It receives information from your service provider through the phone lines or optical fibre, and converts that information into a digital signal.
- Router – a router pushes this signal out to connected devices through Wi-Fi, so that all devices in your business can access the internet.
- Modem router – as the name suggests, this is a combination of a modem and a router in one unit, which performs both of these tasks. This is the preferable choice, and what many ISPs will provide or recommend when you connect to business nbn™.
Presuming that you do opt for an all-in-one modem router, the type you choose will depend on several factors, including:
The current and future needs of your business
If the number of employees accessing your business internet is expected to grow exponentially in the future, you may be wise to choose a modem router with higher capabilities than you currently need to avoid having to upgrade later on. For example, you could opt for a tri-band modem router, which allows for an extra 5GHz channel to be added in addition to the normal two channels, to provide capacity for an increased number of devices.
The way your business uses the internet
If your business activities include uploading and downloading lots of large files such as videos or high resolution images, you will need to ensure that your modem router is fast enough to handle the job.
The speed of your network will be determined by the wireless capability of your modem router, so if heavy internet usage is part of the way you do business, look for a modem router that has the current wireless standard of 802.11ac.
The speed capabilities of all 802 wireless modem standards are:
- 802.11b – up to 11 Mbps
- 802.11a and 802.11g – up to 54 Mbps
- 802.11n – up to 300 Mbps and fastest of all
- 802.11ac up to 1 Gbps (1000 Mbps).
Other features to look for when choosing your modem router include
- Dual-band capabilities (2.4GHz and 5GHz) – a modem router that operates on the normal 2.4GHz broadcast frequency will give you better signal strength over greater distances and through thicker walls, while the additional 5GHz band delivers faster data rates at a shorter distance and with less congestion.
- LAN ports – these allow you to connect certain devices via wired ethernet, which can take some of the the load off your wireless connection.
- Gigabit ethernet ports – these are required if you wish to connect to nbn™ enterprise ethernet.
- Power over ethernet – this feature lets you connect other devices such as VoIP phones through network cables, eliminating the need for additional power cables.
- WPA and WPA2 encryption – this provides you with basic network security, or if you require a higher level of security, you might want to consider business level encryption such as WPA2-Enterprise, which creates a random wireless network password.
- Remote access – this feature would suit businesses with remote employees (or plans to become more mobile), as it allows you to access files from remote locations by setting up a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
- VoIP phone access – this feature allows you to connect VOIP handsets via an RJ45 cable connection (a standard modem router includes 4 ports).
- USB ports – these allow you to plug USB devices such as external hard drives or printers directly into your modem router, so that all devices on the network can access them.
Another question you’ll need answered before purchasing your modem router is whether it is compatible with the nbn™ service you are planning to connect your business to.
In a nutshell, if your nbn™ connection is Fibre to the Node (FTTN) or Fibre to the Building (FTTB), you will need a modem router to connect to the internet, but if it is Fixed Wireless, Fibre to the Curb (FTTC), Fibre to the Premises (FTTP), or Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC), nbn co will supply you with a Network Termination Device which acts as a modem, in which case you will only need a router for your Wi-Fi.
Many of the modem routers currently on the market are compatible with the nbn™, but you should check with your service provider to be certain.