The National Broadband Network (nbn) is the newest version of broadband internet available in Australia. It’s been designed to upgrade the broadband network across Australia and deliver faster internet speeds to homes and businesses.

The rollout of the nbn began in 2011. As of June 2020, 11.7 million homes and business across Australia are able to connect to the nbn. To check if the nbn is available in your area use the address checker on the nbn website

I can’t connect yet? When will the nbn be available in my area?

When it’s available at your address, NBN Co (the company responsible for building the network) will send a letter to your address. As the company will only have your address details, not your name, the letter will be addressed to ‘The Householder’ or similar. So, keep a look out for it in the post.

 

Do I need to switch to the nbn?

In most cases, the nbn network will be replacing the existing copper-based network, including the landline phone network. This means, that if you want to maintain a fixed line broadband internet connection at home, you will need to switch to a new plan. You will usually have up to 18 months to switch to a new plan before the copper network is disconnected.

 

What about my home phone?

As existing fixed line phone services are based on the copper network, they will also need to be switched to a new plan. However, there are some exceptions. For example, in some regional and rural areas, the existing copper network will be maintained for phone services.

 

What type of nbn connection will I have?

Depending on where you live you will have access to different types of nbn technology.

nbn technology can be grouped into fixed line and wireless connections.

Fixed line connections

Fixed line connections are used in metropolitan, suburban or other built-up areas.

With these connections, there is a physical line running to the premises.

They include:

  • Fibre to the Premises (FTTP)
  • Fibre to the Building (FTTB)
  • Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC)
  • Fibre to the Curb (FTTC)
  • Fibre to the Node (FTTN)

 

Fibre to the Premises (FTTP)

As the name suggests, with a FTTP connection the fibre runs directly to the premises.

Fibre to the Building (FTTB)

FTTB connections are most commonly used when connecting multi-dwelling buildings, such as apartment blocks. Here, fibre runs to the building’s communications room (often in the basement). Then the building’s existing technology is used to complete the connection to each apartment or unit.

Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC)

HFC connections are used where there is an existing pay TV or cable installation at a building. Fibre will run to a node near the building, then an HFC line will complete the connection.

Fibre to the Curb (FTTC)

With an FTTC connection, the existing copper network completes the connection from a pit on the street close to the premises.

Fibre to the Node (FTTN)

With an FTTN connection, the existing copper network completes the connection from a node located in a street cabinet in the area in which the building is located.

 

Wireless Connections

Wireless connections are mostly used in regional and rural areas. These connections don’t have a physical line running to the premises.

They include:

  • Fixed Wireless
  • Sky Muster™ satellite

 

Fixed Wireless

This type of connection is usually used in regional or remote areas where there might be significant distances (kilometres) between buildings. With Fixed Wireless, an antenna connects the home or business to the nbn network via radio signals.

Sky Muster™ satellite

Satellite connections are used in more remote areas. With Sky Muster™ satellite, a roof-top satellite dish connects the building to the nbn network via two satellites.

 

These technologies can sound complicated, but when choosing an nbn plan you will be asked to enter your address. And from there it will display the plans available at your place. Then it’s just a matter of choosing the plan that’s right for you.

Choosing an nbn plan

The two main things that differentiate nbn plans are:

  • Speed
  • Data

You’ll also need to consider:

  • Home phone connection
  • Contract length
  • Any equipment that’s needed

 

Speed

When looking for an nbn plan, you’ll see they are grouped by speed. And the speed of the internet is measured in megabits per second.

What are megabits per second?

Megabits per second (Mbps) measure how fast data can travel along the internet. The more Mbps your internet connection has the faster it will be. It will also have greater capacity – allowing more people to use the same connection at the same time.

Download and upload speeds

Internet speeds are also rated by their download and upload speeds. Download speeds measure how fast you will be able to download data from the internet. For example, how fast you will be able to download or stream a video on YouTube or Netflix. Whereas, upload speeds refer to data being sent from your device to somewhere else. For example, how fast you will be able to post photos to social media, send emails or copy files to the cloud.

Speeds during the evening

When choosing an nbn plan, it’s also important to consider the speeds your household will be likely to achieve during peak times. These are usually referred to as ‘evening speeds’ .

The most common nbn speeds offered by providers

NBN Co sells 5 wholesale speed levels to phone and internet providers for residential use. However, speed levels on offer will differ by the technology available at a building and the provider used.

The most commonly-used nbn speeds in households are:

  • NBN 25 (Basic II) speed: 25Mbps download/5Mbps upload
  • NBN 50 (Standard) speed: 50Mbps download/20Mbps upload
  • NBN 100 (Fast) speed: 100Mbps download/20Mbps to 40Mbps upload

Other nbn speeds that may be available are:

  • NBN 250 (Superfast) speed: 250Mbps download/25Mbps upload
  • NBN 1000 (Ultrafast) speed: 1,000Mbps download/50Mbps upload
  • NBN 12 (Basic I) speed: 12Mbps download/1Mbps upload

 

Which nbn speed is right for me?

Here is a summary of what each speed level has been designed for.

NBN 25 (Basic II) speed:

With only 25Mbps download and 5Mbps upload, NBN 25 speeds are suitable for basic internet usage. During peak times, download speeds might reach around 15Mbps.

It’s been designed for:

  • One or two people on the internet at the same time
  • Browsing the web and social
  • Sending emails
  • Streaming music
  • Streaming standard definition (SD) video
NBN 50 (Standard) speed:

With double the download speed and four times the upload speed than NBN 25, NBN 50 offers a significant increase in speed and capacity. For these plans, evening speeds are usually quoted at around 30Mbps.

It’s been designed for:

  • Three or more people online at the same time
  • Streaming high definition (HD) video
  • Downloading files
  • Playing online games
  • Working from home
  • Videoconferencing (e.g. Zoom calls)
NBN 100 (Fast) speed:

NBN 100 offers double the download speeds and up to double the upload speeds of NBN 50, depending on which plan you choose. Some providers might offer upload speed options of 20 and 40 Mbps. With NBN 100 plans, evening speeds are quoted as 60Mbps.

It’s been designed for:

  • Five or more people online at the same time
  • Streaming high definition video (4K)
  • Downloading large files
  • Working from home
  • Videoconferencing (e.g. Zoom calls)
NBN 250 (Superfast) speed

To get an NBN 250 plan, you’ll need to have either an FTTP or HFC connection at your home. However, only 70% of HFC premises are currently eligible for an NBN 250 plan. With NBN 250, evening speeds are quoted as 150Mbps.

It’s been designed for:

  • Households with a number of users and devices
  • Concurrent 4K and 8K streaming
  • Faster downloading of game updates
  • Faster downloading and uploading of large files
NBN 1000 (Ultrafast) speed

There is currently limited availability of NBN 1000. At the moment, all FTTP premises are eligible. While out of the remaining types of connections, only 7% of HFC premises are able to connect to an NBN 1000 plan. Evening speeds for NBN 1000 plans are usually quoted as 250Mbps.

NBN 1000 has been designed 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
  • Accommodating new technologies
NBN 12 (Basic I) speed

We’ve placed NBN 12 at the bottom of this list, as it offers very limited internet speeds. And during busy/evening times the maximum speeds available may be reduced to 7Mbps.

NBN 12 is only really suitable for:

  • Sending emails
  • Making phone calls

It offers around the same speeds as you might experience through an ASDL2+ connection. You might still be able stream videos on Netflix and Stan with an NBN 12 plan, but it’s not generally recommended for this type of usage.

Things that might affect your internet speeds

There are some other factors that can affect the internet speed you achieve at home.

These include:

  • The type of technology available at your home
  • If you have a Fibre to the Node (FTTN) connection, the distance between your home and the node
  • How your chosen provider configures its network
  • The speed plan you choose
  • How your connection is set up, e.g. type of modem, age of equipment, wiring
  • The number of people and devices using the internet in your home at the same time
  • Network congestion during the evening when more people are accessing the internet

 

How download speeds affect download times

The faster your internet connection is, the less time you will need to wait for files to download. And the converse is also true – the slower your internet speed, the more time it will take for a file to download.

Here’s an idea of download times for the various nbn speeds:

MediaNBN 12NBN 25NBN 50NBN 100NBN 250NBN 1000
Music album1 minute33 seconds16 seconds8 seconds3 secondsInstantaneous
HD iTunes movie59 minutes29 minutes14 minutes7 minutes2 minutes 51 seconds42 seconds
New game release10 hours4 hours, 45 minutes2 hours, 20 minutes1 hour, 10 minutes28 minutes, 37 seconds7 minutes, 9 seconds

Keep in mind that these are approximate download times and are based upon the maximum speed achievable for each plan.

Data

Once you’ve determined the speed you need, look at how much data is included in the plan. To work out how much data you need, you’ll need to consider what you’re going to be using the internet for and the number of people who will be accessing it at the same time.

Here’s a guide to how much data some online activities can use:

  • General web browsing and social media – about 2.5MB of data per minute
  • Standard Definition (SD) Netflix – from 700MB an hour
  • High Definition (HD) Netflix – about 3GB an hour
  • Downloading movies – between 1.5GB and 4GB per movie
Home phone connection

If you want to keep a fixed line home phone, don’t forget to ask for one to be included as part of your new nbn plan. It can be bundled in as part of your new internet plan.

Contract length

You’ll also want to consider if you want to be locked into a contract or if you prefer to pay by the month.

Equipment

It’s also worth checking if you need to purchase any new equipment for your new connection. For example, some connections may need a new modem or router.

Other things to be aware of before connecting

If you have a medical alarm, fire alarm, security alarm or an emergency phone in a lift, it may not be compatible with nbn network at all times, including during power blackouts.

So, if you have any safety-critical equipment, like the ones mentioned above, make sure you let your provider know before switching to the nbn.

Also let your provider know if you have a life-threatening medical condition and ask them about registering for Priority Assistance. This is important because phone lines over the internet will not work during a power outage. When you register for Priority Assistance, any faults in your phone service will be given priority.

Is the nbn not available at your address?

If the nbn hasn’t been rolled out to your address yet, you could look at getting an ASDL2+ plan or mobile broadband plan while you’re waiting.

We hope you’ve found this information helpful. Ready to start looking for a new plan?

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