Top 10 frequently asked questions about the NBN
1. When can I get the NBN, and how do I get connected?
The National Broadband Network is one of the largest infrastructure projects in Australia's history - we're building a brand new fibre optic, fixed wireless and satellite network that is set to make high-speed broadband available to 100% of Australian homes and businesses.
The landline phone network in use today was built over many decades. In contrast, installing the NBN across Australia is expected to take about 10 years, so although it's a long-term project, it's also a very fast-paced rollout. We're planning to pass more than 6,000 homes and businesses every day in the peak of the rollout.
By the end of 2015, more than 3.5 million homes and businesses across Australia are planned to have construction commenced or completed.
To find out when your home or business can be connected to services over the NBN, type your street address into NBN Co's interactive map.
If the NBN is available at your address, you can order a service from one of the phone and internet providers offering services over the NBN. View providers in your area.
If the NBN is not currently available at your address, keep checking periodically -- the map is updated every month to show the progress of construction in each area, and once a year, the planned coverage areas are expanded as NBN Co continues rolling out the network more broadly.
In fibre and fixed wireless regions, we'll also be in touch directly to let you know once your home or business is ready to get connected to services over the NBN.
2. How will the NBN benefit me?
The NBN is designed to provide the infrastructure for affordable high-speed internet and telephone access to all Australians.
In NBN fibre areas, it will deliver super-fast broadband with wholesale speeds to service providers of up to 100 Mbps download and 40 Mbps upload and can also deliver high speeds to your premises no matter how far you live from the exchange*.
NBN Co plans to deliver increased wholesale speeds over fibre to service providers of up to 1,000 Mbps download and 400 Mbps upload in the future.*
With the NBN, you'll be able to access the benefits of super-fast internet, including:
- making high quality video calls to stay connected with family and friends
- accessing health services and interactive educational content online
- working from home like you would at the office
- getting the whole family online at once
- downloading movies in minutes and streaming TV online.*
Plus you'll be able to make phone calls over the NBN's fibre optic technology.
* We're designing the NBN to provide these speeds to our wholesale customers, telephone and internet service providers. Your experience including the speeds actually achieved over the NBN depends on some factors outside our control like your equipment quality, software, broadband plans and how your service provider designs its network.
3. Do I need to switch to the NBN?
It's your choice whether you switch to the NBN, what services you take up and which service provider you use. If you don’t wish to move to the NBN ask your preferred service provider about other options.
However, in the areas where NBN fibre is being installed, it will replace almost all phone lines, ADSL internet, Telstra/Optus cable internet, and some Telstra Velocity fibre services, providing a new fibre optic network for residents to use.
So, when the switch-off of the above lines is announced in your area, you need to switch over to the NBN if you want to keep a landline phone or internet service, or make alternative arrangements for your phone and internet.
There are some exceptions – if your phone or internet is already provided over a fibre optic cable, or through a network provided by your building owner, these services may continue to be available. To confirm, please check with your service provider.
Likewise, if you use a cable internet service that's not from Telstra or Optus (such as TransACT or OptiComm), they won't be switched off as part of the NBN rollout. If you're not sure how your phone and internet is provided, it's best to ask your service provider.
Many phone and internet service providers are planning to invite their customers to switch over to NBN-based services. So you could ask your preferred service provider for more details about whether they can organise the switchover for you.
Once your new service is working, make sure your old service is cancelled. Speak to your service provider about your options – you may be able to move your existing plan to the NBN. If you’re under contract ask if there will be any fees that might be payable for ending your contract early.
4. Will it cost me anything to switch to the NBN?
A standard installation of NBN Co equipment is free of charge and there’s a great range of competitive NBN packages available for purchase from a large number of service providers. So in NBN fibre areas, you could access internet and phone services over NBN fibre for around the same price as you’re paying now. Speak to your preferred service provider to see if there are any other charges such as set up or activation fees.
At the time you arrange your NBN service, your service provider might also invite you to purchase or rent a new router to help share your internet service around the different rooms of your home or business – but from a technical perspective this is optional.
If you're currently under contract with a provider and want to move to the NBN, ask your service provider if any fees might be payable if you end your contract early, or whether you can move your plan to the NBN at no charge.
Remember, NBN Co doesn’t sell direct to the public, so give your service provider a call to find out more.
5. How is fibre optic technology better than what I have now?
Fibre optic technology was first developed in the 1970s and despite around 40 years of research, there's still no commercially-available technology capable of connecting faster broadband to homes right across a country. As a result, fibre-optic cables are used all over the world, including in Australia.
Fibre optic technology is also used to provide the ultrafast international broadband links via long distance undersea cables, which is testament to its reliability and capacity.
Fibre cables do not need an electrical current to carry a signal, unlike copper. When wet, fibre optic lines can still carry signals and support services (as long as electronic devices connected to either end of the fibre optic cable are still operational).
6. Can I keep my phone number if I switch to the NBN?
"Number porting" rules will not change with the introduction of the NBN. NBN Co is not involved in allocating phone numbers – this is something that providers of phone services over the NBN arrange. To be sure you keep your phone number, ask your service provider to confirm that they will keep your phone number when you transfer your service over to the NBN.
For more information see ACMA's website for full details of number portability rules.
7. What do NBN plans cost compared to what I pay now?
There’s a great range of competitive NBN packages on offer from a large number of service providers. So, in NBN fibre areas, you could access internet and phone services over the NBN fibre for around the same price as you’re paying now.
Speak to your service provider about your options – you may be able to move your existing plan to the NBN. If you are considering changing providers or plans you should ask your service provider if there are any fees associated with ending your contract early.
We also expect there will be a range of competitive plans just for phone-only services over fibre, if that is all you want.
You might like to compare some plans offered over the NBN on the independent comparison website Whistleout. (Please note, as an independent third party collates this information, NBN Co cannot guarantee its accuracy.)
8. Can I just get my phone line over the NBN, without internet?
Yes, in NBN fibre areas, phone services on the NBN fibre can work in much the same way as they do on the existing network.
There is a port on the Network Termination Device provided in fibre areas that sits in your house that most normal phones can plug into – so if you order your phone service from a provider that supports this and your current phone is compatible, you simply unplug your phone from the wall socket and plug it into the Network Termination Device's "UNI-V" port.
Alternatively, your phone and internet service provider may offer you a phone service that operates over a broadband internet connection, sometimes called a VOIP service. If you only need a phone service, not internet, you could ask your provider to arrange this. There are also phone-only services available from some providers that don’t require you to subscribe to an internet service.
While you’ll need to pay regular charges to your service provider, it doesn’t cost anything for a standard NBN fibre connection and equipment installation. Check with your preferred provider whether they charge any account setup or activation fees to provide a phone service over the NBN.
9. Do I need new equipment to use the NBN?
In NBN fibre areas, NBN Co will provide a free standard installation of a connection box on your outside wall while the network is being built in your street, and an Network Termination Device inside your house once you order a service. This is the basic equipment you need to use services over the NBN.
Most equipment used to access the internet or to make phone calls today can be used on the NBN fibre but you should check with your service provider to confirm this.
Your service provider might also invite you to purchase or rent a new router to help share your internet service around multiple devices in different rooms of your home or business – but from a technical perspective this is optional.
10. Can I still call 000 on an NBN phone service?
Yes, as long as you have an active phone service over NBN fibre and your Network Termination Device is powered up.
All providers of standard phone services in Australia are required by law to connect calls to emergency services free of charge. This includes providers of internet phone (VoIP) services that are capable of dialling into the standard phone network.
You should be aware that it will not be possible, however, to call 000 on a fibre connection if your phone service is disconnected – i.e. when there is no active retail phone service being delivered to the premises – or if your Network Termination Device is not powered.
A free battery backup unit is also available for premises in NBN fibre areas. It provides around 4-5 hours of talk time on a standard corded phone connected the Network Termination Device's "UNI-V" port in the case of a power outage. If you want a phone service with NBN Co's battery backup, you will need to choose a phone service provider that connects your phone service through the Network Termination Device's "UNI-V" port, as well as requesting the battery backup unit when ordering the service from the provider.
For more information on phone service provider 000 emergency call obligations, see the ACMA website.