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Monday, 13 Feb 2023 | 6 min read

Is your modem compatible with the NBN?

Photo of an internet router with a person reaching behind it with a network cable

You may have seen the terms ‘NBN ready’ and ‘NBN compatible’ used to market some modems and routers. If you’ve been wondering to yourself, “is my modem compatible with NBN?” – the good news is that putting all that jargon aside, these terms usually mean the same thing: if it’s on the packaging, that modem/router should be able to connect to your internet service regardless of which type of NBN or OptiComm is at the property. If not, you may need to learn more about what your needs are and research your options.

Getting NBN: how to know if you need to upgrade your modem

Your existing router may have worked perfectly fine with a previous NBN or OptiComm internet service, especially if it’s a newer model. Whether you can benefit from upgrading depends on the type of connection you have in your area, the speed tier of your chosen plan, and the layout of your home or business. The best way to be sure is to check in with your internet service provider for their recommendations. Aussie Broadband has compatible modems and routers available for purchase when you sign up to our services.

 

Compatibility depends on your location

Whether your modem/router is compatible with your NBN or OptiComm service depends on the type of connection you’ll have in your area. If you have a fairly new modem, you likely won’t need to upgrade to a new one when you relocate to a new property or connect for the first time – but it’s always best to be sure of this by checking in with your internet provider to find out what type of technology your new property needs.

Therefore, it’s important to check you have the right technology whenever you move to a new property, as your connection type may have changed.

If you have Fibre to the Premises, Fixed Wireless, HFC (Hybrid Fibre), or Fibre to the Curb:

If your property has any type of ‘NBN box’ or ‘OptiComm box’ in it, there’s a good chance that you don’t need a router that has a modem function. However, your modem/router needs to have an ‘Ethernet’ or ‘WAN’ port to be able to connect, and that’s really all you need! This means you can use a modem or router that doesn’t have a ‘DSL’ port, which you will see on many that are provided by internet service providers.

If you have Fibre to the Node/Building:

Fibre to the Node or Building (FTTN or FTTB) means fibre optic cable runs from your building’s main distribution frame or local node, and the rest of the connection will use copper telephone cabling. FTTN and FTTB services need a modem that uses VDSL2 technology.

The term ‘VDSL2’ might sound familiar, as it is functionally similar to ADSL2 – the internet technology most commonly used before the National Broadband Network rolled out across Australia. Both terms share the ‘DSL’ part of their acronyms, which stands for Digital Subscriber Line. All VDSL2 modems should have a port on the back labelled ‘DSL’, which is where you must connect the modem to your NBN telephone point on the wall. You cannot use an ADSL modem with an NBN or OptiComm internet service as this technology is no longer in use; if you’re not sure whether your current hardware supports VDSL2, we recommend consulting the product’s manual.

Unfortunately, if the device you’re using does not have a DSL port at all, you cannot use it to connect to the telephone point used for your broadband service. Unlike other connection types (such as FTTP, HFC, Wireless, FTTC), a VDSL2 modem is required to run a Fibre to the Node/Building service.

Our best residential VDSL2 modem/router is the Netcomm NF20MESH.

 

Is a modem the same as a router?

This is something that your internet provider can confirm for you if you chat to them about the brand and model of the device you have.

The difference between a ‘modem’ and ‘router’ can be confusing as these terms are often used interchangeably.

A modem is a device that connects your home network to the internet through your internet service provider (ISP). It translates the data from your home network into a format that can be transmitted over the internet, and vice versa. A modem usually has a DSL plug on it, which is a requirement for Fibre to the Node/Building locations.

A router, on the other hand, is a device that connects multiple devices within your network and manages the flow of data between them. It directs traffic to the correct device, allowing them to communicate with each other and with the internet. When taking about WiFi and connecting devices wirelessly or by using a cable, router is an inclusive term to describe any device that does this.

In short, a modem connects your home network to the internet, while a router connects multiple devices within your network to each other and to the internet.

Often, these two functions are combined into a single device called a modem router, which is usually what is meant when using the term ‘modem’ in a sentence.  Other routers – without a modem – do not have a ‘DSL’ port but can be used for other connection types (such as Fibre to the Premises or Fibre to the Curb) by connecting your NBN/OptiComm box to the ‘WAN’ port instead.

 

Taking advantage of your plan’s top speeds

So, why is having a great modem or router important? You can take full advantage of your internet plan by using a newer, faster, and more compatible modem/router. An incompatible or outdated router will likely slow down your internet connection – by upgrading to a version that best suits your needs you can troubleshoot connection problems faster by reducing the likelihood of your modem/router being the cause of any issues.

Depending on which speed tier your NBN (or OptiComm) plan falls under, you’ll want to choose a modem/router that can support the download speeds from your chosen plan – especially over WiFi if you wirelessly connect your TV, computer, gaming console, or other tech devices. Continue reading for some points to consider when researching your device.

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

 

Getting the most out of your property’s layout

Start by ensuring your modem or router ticks all of the boxes for your household’s needs. Here are some things to consider when assessing if your device does everything you need it to do:

  • Consider cabled connections – WiFi is convenient because it’s a cord-free connection and you can move around your connected devices without hassle. However, a cabled connection will usually give you a more reliable connection than WiFi, and we recommend using a cabled connection whenever reasonable. If you plan on connecting devices with an ethernet cable, make sure your modem/router has enough ports for your wired connections. Few routers have more than 5 or 6 ports, so if you need more, you can look into additional connections using a network switch or another router with a ‘bridge’ mode.

  • Position your router with WiFi in mind – Consider the ‘anchor point’ for your modem or router where it must be placed in order to connect. Sometimes, the box or wall point you need to connect to is inconveniently far from where you need a good WiFi signal the most! If you need to connect to WiFi from more than 10 metres away, you can look into getting some WiFi ‘extenders’ from a local technology store. Alternatively, a qualified electrician can also help extend the connection from the NBN/OptiComm box (or telephone wall point) for your router if the placement is inconvenient.

  • Explore the Wi-Fi settings – Check your modem or router’s settings to see if you can boost signal range and keep your router’s firmware up to date. It’s best to chat to your internet provider, who can guide you through these settings and choose the best options for your specific plan. One setting you can experiment with is by changing radio channels to find one that is less congested.

 

NBN’s Home Internet Helper

Recently, NBN Co published a free tool on their website to help you get the most out of your home or business internet connection.

The Home Internet Helper tool will ask a few questions about how the internet works at your property and what your connection issues look like, then presents some suggested steps and possible solutions to improve your speeds and reliability. Try it out today by heading over to homeinternethelper.nbnco.com.au from a phone or computer that’s connected to your network.

 

Talk to your ISP

Having the right hardware is crucial to taking full advantage of the faster speeds available on NBN and OptiComm services. The type of router you’ll need depends on the type of NBN connection you have. If you have a newer router, it’s likely to be compatible, but check with your ISP to be certain. The routers that we offer can be found on our website here, and you can speak with our Australian Team to find out which router is best suited to your needs.

Aussie Broadband is a 100% Australian-based, industry-leading ISP. We offer reliable and fast services to Aussie households and businesses. For a discussion about internet plans the hardware you’ll need, speak to our Australian Team for a chat today!

Tags:ModemRouterHardware

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