FAQs About the nbn™ : Your questions answered

July 23rd, 2018 - Get new posts sent straight to your inbox, click here. AussieBB

Got questions about the nbn™? From where to find information about your rollout schedule to how much speed you’ll need (and how much it will cost you), Aussie Broadband has you covered with our question-and-answer guide to the National Broadband Network.

What are Retail Service Providers?

Providers (like us) sign agreements to become retail service providers (RSPs) so they can purchase wholesale services from NBNCo and provide these services to consumers and businesses as retail packages. NBNCo does not provide direct services to consumers and businesses.

When will nbn™ hit my area?

The nbnTM is a massive national project, one of the biggest ever undertaken in Australia. It will take several more years to complete, though many areas are already active around Australia. You can check when the nbnTM will be available in your area (or if it already is!) by using our helpful NBN finder.

How fast is the nbn™?

The speed (bandwidth) of your nbn™ connection will depend on both availability and your subscription package. Aussie Broadband currently offers packages with download bandwidths at:

  • 25 Mbps
  • 50 Mbps
  • 100 Mbps
  • 150 Mbps (limited areas)
  • 250 Mbps (limited areas)

Not sure which is for you? Check out this article on nbn™ speed tiers for more detailed information on the right nbn™ speed and download limit for your household or business.

Will I be able to get the maximum speed at my premises?

There are a few factors that play into what top speed you can expect. Some things to consider are:

  1. Technology type: Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) will typically have a higher speed than HFC (cable), Fibre to the Curb (FTTC) and Fibre to the Node (FTTN), which rely on copper wire for the last leg of the connection, from the home to the node or from the curb to the house. However it’s important to note that this is not always the case, and it will depend on the individual circumstance.
  2. External factors: Download speeds can be impacted by a number of factors including distance, walls and barriers, local wifi interference as well as the available technology in your home.
  3. Your Modem/Router: Download speeds can also be impacted by the make and model of your router. Ensuring you have up to date equipment will give you the best chances of achieving the highest speeds that your service is capable of. Some factors to consider would be whether or not your router supports gigabit Ethernet and AC Wifi.

How much speed do I need?

The amount of speed required is one of the most important, and often misunderstood, questions surrounding nbn™.

To start with, your download speed isn’t really speed, it’s bandwidth. To illustrate – if you have a 25 Mbps plan, you have an available bandwidth of 25 Mbps (or close to it, depending on your connection quality).

That means you can use up to that amount of bandwidth, depending on how you access it (cable to the router or WiFi, for example) and the quality of the technology (5Ghz wireless is faster than 2.4Ghz, but not as good at penetrating walls). So, once you know roughly how much bandwidth you need, the smart policy is to always provide a bit of headroom.

For more info, here’s a breakdown of the types of downloads you can achieve and speeds you can expect under different nbn™ tiers at this link.

Is the nbn™ mandatory?

The nbn™ will eventually replace Australia’s aging copper wire ADSL infrastructure. You will have 18 months to switch from your existing ADSL internet to nbn™ once it becomes available in your area.

It’s important to note that in areas flagged for Fixed Wireless or Satellite services there has been no explicit mention of switching off the ADSL services – this is at the discretion of providers in the area if they wish to maintain the infrastructure.

You can read about the switch for businesses here, and for residential areas here.

How does Aussie Broadband partner with NBNCo?

NBNCo is a government enterprise responsible for the rollout of the nbn™ wholesale to telecommunications retailers like Aussie Broadband, and we provide it to you.

How do I switch from ADSL internet to nbn™

Once the nbnTM is in your area, it’s just a matter of contacting Aussie Broadband to review our plans and decide on which suits your needs best.

How much does nbn™ cost?

Currently there’s a range of speed tiers for nbn™ packages, designed to be competitive with current ADSL prices. Aussie Broadband also offers unlimited plans. Check here to find out more about Aussie Broadband’s offerings for nbn™.

Does the nbn™ support wifi?

Yes, the nbn™ supports WiFi connections, allowing you to use your devices and Internet-ready gadgets online without the mess of cords. Just make sure that your modem is compatible with WiFi as well (all nbn™ modems will be, as WiFi has been a standard for the technology for many years), and, again, follow the simple instructions that will be provided for setting up a wireless network.

What about connection fees?

Aussie Broadband does not charge connection fees, but you can either buy an nbn™ approved modem from us for a one-off fee, or you can bring your own modem.

Contact 1300 880 905 and talk to our sales team to find out if your modem is compatible.

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

There are two types of nbn™ setup:

  • If you have an activation, you don’t need to be at home.
  • 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. Aussie Broadband asks customers not to sign-off on installations until they are happy with the location of the equipment.

What does the terminology ‘greenfields’ and ‘brownfields’ refer to?

When researching nbn™ you might come across the terms ‘greenfields’ and ‘brownfields’. So what do they mean?

  • ‘Greenfields’ refers to new estates
  • ‘Brownfields’ refers to existing estates

The relevance for nbn™ is that fibre can be laid alongside utilities for greenfields estates, while brownfields already have existing infrastructure to contend with.

I need phone but not internet. Can I do that on nbn™?

Yes! The nbn™ can be used simply for phone/voice calls, though the connectivity will be through the internet, rather than a traditional ‘phone line’. Check out Aussie Broadband’s Voice over IP (VoIP) plans here, and talk to our sales staff about how you can get set up with phone over internet.

Is the voice service on nbn™ different to a standard copper wire phone service?

There are several differences between voice calls on the current copper wire connection and voice over nbn™ fibre. In particular, Aussie Broadband does not offer UNI-V services, so our VoIP offerings will all work a little bit differently to traditional call methods. However, the quality of the connection will be to the highest possible standard.

  • During a power failure, your nbn™ phone won’t work, not even for emergency calls. Keep a charged mobile handy in case you need to call 000.
  • If you have a rotary dial phone, a ‘back to base’ home alarm, a fax machine or medical equipment that uses the existing copper wire, you should check with the manufacturer to see if the equipment is nbnTM compatible. (Aussie Broadband is not able to offer these services)

I’m moving soon but nbn™ isn’t available yet, what should I do?

Until nbnTM becomes available in your area you should look at existing ADSL2+ plans on the copper wire network. If you know the expected delivery date for nbn™ is soon, you may want to choose a casual or short term plan so you can switch easily to nbn™ as soon as it is available.

Having problems with your nbn™ connection?

If you’re experiencing problems with your nbn™ service check our knowledge base or contact customer support on 1300 880 905.

Can I get unlimited data on nbn™?

Aussie Broadband offers unlimited plans on all technologies other than fixed wireless. Check out the full list of plans here.

What if I go over my data allowance?

Aussie Broadband has shifted our standard data nbn™ offerings to sliding tiers that can be changed mid-month for only the cost of the plan difference. While our grandfathered services still support traditional data blocks – which start at 10GB for $5 – anyone not on a grandfathered service can change their data allowance as required.

Why do some of my neighbours have nbn™, but some don’t?

nbn™ is still in its rollout stage, so some streets might not be connected even if they are close to ones that are. Even if nbn™ hasn’t reached your address yet, Aussie Broadband can notify you as soon as nbn™ becomes available. Sign up here for a free quote and you’ll also receive the latest news and alerts on Australia’s National Broadband Network.

What sort of equipment will I need?

The technology that powers nbn™ requires a few changes to your home internet setup. The nbn™ is a mixed technology platform, and not all setups will be the same.

For Fibre to the Premises (FTTP), you’ll need NBNCo to install:

  1. A utility box or Premise Connection Device (PCD). This will be installed on an exterior wall of your house, close to an electrical meter.
  2. A connection box which is placed on the inside of the wall, close to the position of the utility box.

Fibre to the Node (FTTN) is more similar to a standard ADSL setup. If a technician needs to access your home, they will make an appointment first.

For FTTC, or Fibre to the Curb, the fibre is connected to a small Distribution Point Unit (DPU) and is at this point connected to the existing copper network to form the connection. The DPU is usually located in a pit on the street. To power the connection, a FTTC nbn™ connection device will be needed inside your home/business.

If this is the case for your nbn™ connection, Aussie Broadband will let you know before connection what equipment is required.

For Fixed Wireless connections, the data is sent from a transmission tower to an nbn™ outdoor antenna on your property. This requires both the outdoor antenna to be installed by an nbn™ approved installer, but will also require an nbn™ connection box to be installed at the place where the cable from your outdoor antenna enters the building. Please note: this connection box will require power to operate.

For Hybrid Fibre Co-Axial, the connection works relatively similar to an existing cable connection. As such, the only equipment you will require is an nbn™ utility box on the exterior of your building, and an nbn™ connection box inside your premises.

Can I use my existing modem for nbn™?

You’ll need a modem that’s compatible with the high speeds of the nbn™. Fortunately we can offer compatible high speed modems if you need one. But if you’re tech savvy and want to provide your own nbn™ compatible equipment, that’s fine too.

Do you need a new modem for the nbn™?

The answer is, possibly. The nbn™ does use technology that won’t be compatible with every modem, and the one you do need will depend on what kind of connection you have to the new network. If your connection is fibre to the node (FTTN) or fibre to the basement (FTTB), you’ll need a VDSL2-compatible modem. You’ll be able to get one of these from your internet provider, often as part of the overall service package. If your connection is fibre to the premises (FTTP), all you need is a wireless router.

How do I connect my modem to the nbn™?

Connecting to the nbn™ is as simple as following the instructions your nbn™ provider or the manufacturers of the router provide. You simply need to connect the right cords to the correct sockets on your modem, just as you would a standard internet connection. Setting up an internet connection used to be a complex task, but these days modems do almost all the work themselves, and can be set up in one or two minutes by following a couple of easy steps. If you’re having difficulty, you can always ring your provider for support. One thing to remember is that once you have a nbn™ connection, it replaces your existing phone line. So, to continue to use your home phone, you’ll need to connect it to your nbn™ modem.

What type of router do I need for the nbn™?

The best way to check what kind of router you should be using for your nbn™ connection is to look into these three features:

  1. Is your router more than a few years old?
    If so, you’ll probably need a new one for your nbn™ connection.
  2. Is your router capable of gigabit speeds and has an AC classification?
    If not, then you’ll probably want a new router for your nbn™ connection.
  3. Is the router dual-band, and therefore able to support both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz frequencies?
    If not, the router won’t be able to capitalise on the value of the nbn™.

Utility box and connection box requirements

The utility box for your FTTP nbn™ connection needs to be a minimum of 410mm off the ground, and at least 250mm from taps, drainpipes, gas, electricity and water metres.

The interior connection box should be placed in a position that is visible and easily accessible (though this is a requirement for FTTP nbn™ only).

Customers should place any equipment specified by the installer as needed in an easy to reach location, and it’s important that you do not sign off on the job unless you are happy with the installation job.

Can nbn™ stream Netflix, Stan and Foxtel Play and Go?

It wouldn’t be much of a National Broadband Network if you couldn’t access today’s hottest services. Here are a few points to keep in mind:

  • A Netflix high definition show (or equivalent) needs around 5 Mbps of bandwidth to stream. An Ultra HD or 4K show will need a whopping 25 Mbps to stream.
  • If your Smart TV or digital device is running over WiFi, the speed can be affected.
  • On a 25 Mbps plan you would need near perfect connectivity (and no other internet activity) to stream an Ultra HD show, but a normal HD show should be fine.

It’s important to note that as of 2017, Ultra HD media is not particularly common, and you’d obviously need a 4K TV set to take full advantage. Still, as consumer technology advances, we’ll all be using more bandwidth around the house.

Why doesn’t the nbn™ use wireless for FTTN connections?

We’ve already looked at how Fibre to the Node requires copper wire for the last distance, but if copper wire is less than optimal, why can’t the nbn™ use wireless technology? After all, our smartphones can download data at high speeds on 4G and LTE networks.

Wireless technology is great in some situations, but there are several limitations that should be considered. Because of this, fixed line services are still considered a more reliable option than wireless for FTTN connections.

What was the three year construction plan and why did it change?

Previously, the NBNCo website showed information for when construction on the nbnTM would start in specific areas. But knowing when construction starts is less useful than knowing when it’s completed. The NBNCo website changed in late 2016 to make it easier for you to understand when the nbnTM would be available in your area. You can do a postcode search at their webpage.

How much faster is nbn™ compared to ADSL 2+?

ADSL2+ caps out at 24 Mbps, while nbn™ can achieve up to 100 Mbps. Theoretically, nbn™ has over 4 times more bandwidth. Here are a few key factors to consider when drawing comparisons:

  • ADSL2+ rarely comes close to 24Mbps. This is down to a number of factors from poor copper wiring, to distance from the exchange and load imbalance during peak times. The fibre optics of the high speed nbn™ are much better over distance. A FTTP connection at 100Mbps will be received at the modem on or about 100 Mbps.
  • WiFi speeds around the home don’t always reflect what you’re receiving at your modem. WiFi depends on a number of factors including signal strength and compatibility of both the WiFi router and the device(s) receiving the signal. There’s also walls, neighbour WiFi and other interference to factor in.
  • Devices plugged into the modem or router via cable should achieve consistent bandwidth.

Is VDSL the same as nbn™?

Effectively, yes. In order to access the nbn™ if you’re on a fibre to the node (FTTN) or fibre to the basement (FTTB) connection you’ll need a VDSL2-ready modem.

VDSL simply refers to very fast broadband over copper networks. In other words, it’s the same wiring and infrastructure that you used for your previous ADSL broadband network. There’s no need to dig up your driveway in order to install new wires or technology.

It does mean that the VDSL network that the nbn™ uses will replace your existing ADSL network, however. If you haven’t moved over to the nbn™ once the nbn™ is installed in your area, you’ll lose access to services, including your phone line.

nbn™ explained

Despite plenty of media coverage, there’s still a lot of confusion surrounding the nbn™. And we don’t blame you – from ADSL to Mbps to FTTN and FTTP, getting your head around what the National Broadband Network will mean for you can seem complicated. We hope this article clarified some key concepts, but if you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.