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Friday 12 May 2023 | 8 min read

FAQs about the nbn®: Your questions answered

A manhole cover with the word "nbn" on it

Got questions about the NBN? From where to find information about how it works to what you can do with your NBN box (and if it might cost you), we've got you covered with our question-and-answer guide to the National Broadband Network.

How does the NBN work?

Think of Australia’s National Broadband Network like a big network of pipes that carry water to your home. But instead of water, it carries data – information from around the world, straight to your phone, computer, or smart device.

For example, when you watch a video on YouTube, you are using data. NBN is not an Internet Service Provider (ISP), but a provider of infrastructure. They're responsible for building and maintaining those ‘pipes’, which are used by ISPs to connect your home to the internet.

The NBN uses different types of technologies to carry data, such as fibre optic cables, copper wires, antennas, and wireless towers. The type of technologies connected to your property vary depending on where you live.

I need a phone but not internet. Can I do that with the NBN?

Yes! You can use broadband to connect your home phone through something called a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). But, as hinted in the name, you do need an internet connection to run a VoIP service.

“Why would I use the internet to make phone calls?” you might ask. Well, VoIP services replaces old copper phone lines, giving you access to a clearer connection and more features!

Check out Aussie Broadband’s VoIP plans and talk to our sales staff about how you can get set up with phone over internet.

Are all NBN providers the same?

Not all internet service providers (ISPs) use the exact same networks to connect to your house. There are many factors controlled by the ISP that can affect your broadband experience.

Some of those factors include the different speeds they can offer, how they manage their own traffic, the scale of their redundancy network, the quality of customer service they offer, and the price they charge.

Some providers may also have extra features or benefits, such as unlimited data, free modems, or bundled phone or TV services.

That's why it's important to compare different internet plans and providers before you sign up, so you can find the best one for your needs and budget.

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Are NBN boxes house-specific?

NBN boxes, which are also called Network Termination Devices (or Network Connection Devices), connect your home to the National Broadband Network.

These devices are made for each unique address in the NBN database – meaning you can't use the same box if you move to a different address, even if the new property has the same type of connection technology.

Can I have my NBN box moved to a different spot?

The answer to this question depends on a few factors.

First, you need to check what type of connection you have. If you have a Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) or a Fixed Wireless connection, you'll need to contact your internet provider and request a relocation of your NBN box.

If you have a Fibre to the Node (FTTN), Fibre to the Curb (FTTC) or a Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) connection, you will need to have the connection socket changed.

Changing the location of the NBN box or socket typically incurs a fee as it must be done by a NBN Certified Installer. You can contact your internet provider to organise an appointment to have your equipment moved and it may take some time to go through this process.

You can, however, move your modem or router, so long as your network cable is long enough to reach the new location!

Are NBN modems different to ADSL modems?

If you're wondering whether you can use your old ADSL modem for your new NBN connection, the answer is probably no.

NBN modems are different to ADSL modems because they use different technologies and frequencies to connect to the internet. You'll need a compatible modem to enjoy the full benefits of your NBN service.

Many modems in-store today will include on their packaging if the device is suitable for NBN.

Many modems found in stores today will include on their packaging if the device is suitable for NBN.

Can I get NBN put in a granny flat?

If you want to get NBN in a granny flat, you have a few options depending on your situation.

The easiest way is to share the existing connection from the main house, but this may require some wiring and permission from the owner at the main property with some help from a licenced cabler. This 'piggy-back' method is known as a Subsequent Installation, because it shares cabling using the same unique Location ID of the main property.

Another option is to apply for a new separate and unique connection for the granny flat – but this may incur additional costs and installation fees. Registering your granny flat as a separate address makes it far easier for tenants to manage their own internet service. To find out more, see New Developments on the NBN website.

A third option is to use a mobile broadband service that uses 4G or 5G networks, but this may have limited coverage and data plans. You should compare the pros and cons of these options and choose the one that best suits you and the owner/tenants of the main property.

Is VDSL the same as NBN?

Effectively, yes – in the context of Fibre to the Node technology. In order to access the NBN, you’ll need a VDSL2-ready modem.

VDSL simply refers to the ‘very fast’ version of DSL broadband technology. DSL (which stands for Digital Subscriber Line) was the first widely-adopted way to connect to the internet in Australia, and co-opts the copper lines used for telephones.

In other words, it’s the same wiring and infrastructure that was used for previous ADSL or DSL broadband network. There’s no need to dig up your driveway in order to install new wires or technology where FTTN and FTTC has been rolled out. NBN will use the existing copper lines to run the VDSL network. This also means that any previous services run on those same copper lines, such as a phone line, will cease operation.

Do I need to be at home for my connection to be set up?

There are two types of NBN installations:

  • If you have an activation, you don’t need to be at home. Your internet provider will remotely activate your NBN service.

  • If you are given an appointment, an authorised adult will need to be onsite for the duration. This includes installation of the connection box inside your home. We strongly recommend you do not sign-off on installations until you are happy with the location of the equipment.

Photo of a sad dog waiting alone at home. Labrador retriever looking through window during rain.

(Real photo of me waiting for a technician to arrive for my appointment)

Where can I find my NBN node?

In Fibre to the Node (FTTN) locations, the Fibre Access Node (FAN) is the ‘node’ part of your connection – which is where the connection to your house changes from high-speed fibre to less favourable copper cabling.

The connection to the node comes from the nearest Point of Interconnect (POI), which you can learn more about in our Help Centre.

According to NBN, the average distance between a node and the properties it’s connected to is about 500 metres or less.

It’s important to know that this equipment is looked after by NBN, so only licenced technicians are allowed to open a node. Users should not try to open it themselves and could receive a hefty fine for tampering with it.

Who installs my NBN wall socket?

If you're wondering who is responsible for putting in the internet plug on your wall, the answer depends on your type of connection. For most connections, you'll need a technician to come to your home and set up the socket for you. They'll also connect your modem and make sure everything is working.

If your property is to be connected with FTTP, Fixed Wireless, or Hybrid Fibre (HFC), you cannot have your own chosen tradesperson to install or repair the socket and it must be done by a NBN Certified Installer.

For some connections that use telephone-style plugs (known as an RJ11 wall point), such as FTTC and FTTN, you will need to organise your own third-party electrician or certified cabler to do this before your NBN installation.

Either way, your provider should give you instructions on how to prepare for your appointment before your service is installed.

What does an NBN wall socket look like?

Fibre to the Curb and Fibre to the Node (or Building) uses a RJ11 type wall plate indoors. This is where you connect your modem or connection device.

Sometimes, older buildings may have more than one of these – but in most cases, only one point will be active and usable for a connection. The active socket is formally known as your property’s Network Boundary Point; as the name implies, this is where the network (NBN) stops, and anything connected beyond it is the managed by the end users.

In a property that is using Hybrid Fibre (HFC) internet, the wall socket has a round plug known as a F-Type wall plate. This is the same type of plug that has been used in the past for pay TV connections, so in some households there might be more than one of these – however the same as FTTN/FTTC applies to these as only one of those points is active and usable for an internet connection.

Can I use ADSL instead of the NBN?

Generally speaking, no.

There are a few areas where ADSL is still available, but most of Australia's built-up areas have been disconnected by 2023 and most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) no longer offer ADSL2+ plans.

You can find your ADSL disconnection date, by searching your address on Finder's NBN Rollout Map. Alternatively, you can ring your ISP and ask them to look up your cut-off date.

While alternative fixed-line connection types become less available, wireless broadband - such as 4G and 5G Mobile Broadband and Satellite technologies are becoming increasingly faster and more affordable.

What are the different NBN speed tiers?

You might have noticed that the plans offered by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are largely based on the download speeds that are available on them, and that is influenced by the speed tiers that NBN offers to providers to sell.

Different ISPs can have different names for these plans and may also offer plans that are different from the standard NBN speed tiers. The official names of these plans and the speeds they offer are:

• Home Basic I – maximum of 12Mbps download and 1Mbps upload.

• Home Basic II – maximum of 25Mbps download and 10Mbps upload.

• Home Standard – maximum of 50Mbps download and 20Mbps upload.

• Home Fast – maximum of 100Mbps download and 20Mbps upload.

• Home Superfast – maximum of 1000Mbps download and 50Mbps upload.

• Home Ultrafast – maximum of 1000Mbps download and 50Mbps upload.


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