NBN 101: All the NBN basics revealed

The ABCs of NBN.

Nathan Lawrence
Jan 12, 2022
Icon Time To Read4 min read

If you’re in the market for home broadband, at the very least, it’s worth considering signing up for an NBN plan. Broadband technology has come a long way since the bare-bolts ADSL, and there’s a good chance your home is able to connect to at least some form of NBN. Here are all of the 101 basics you need to know about NBN.

Before we get too far into proceedings, compare NBN plans from our database in the daily updating list below.

What is NBN?

NBN is short for National Broadband Network. Chuck on a “Co” after “NBN”, and it’s the name of the company, but leave it as is and it refers to the actual network. Without getting too bogged down in technical details, the NBN is the network that’s built to run fibre closer to Aussie homes, providing a speedy bridge between provider networks and your home network.

NBN technology types

The area you live in determines the type of NBN technology available for your home. While you can opt to upgrade your NBN connection, by default, this technology is determined by NBN and you don’t have control over it, based largely on whether you’re in a metro area, rural place or remote locale.

All in, there are seven NBN technology used to connect Aussie homes and businesses to the NBN (listed in order of their speed potential):

FTTP, HFC, FTTC, FTTB and FTTN are used in metro areas, Fixed Wireless NBN tends to service regional and rural areas, while NBN Sky Muster satellite is built for remote and offshore locations. Generally speaking, all forms of NBN should offer reliable internet, so don’t expect too much in the way of NBN outages, albeit homes with NBN Fixed Wireless, NBN satellite and FTTN technologies may experience slower speeds, particularly during the nightly busy period.

Which NBN technology is available at my address?

To see which NBN technology is available at your home, start typing your address in the field below then select it from the dropdown menu. Optionally, select a preferred monthly data limit (unlimited data is standard for all NBN technologies except for NBN satellite), then click on the blue search button. The results page will detail the broadband technologies available in your area after “Great News!” Tap, click or hover over the information ‘i’ icon to see the connection type (fixed-line, Fixed Wireless or satellite) and the technology type.

NBN speed tiers

There are several NBN speed tiers available to homes, designed to meet specific speed and other online needs. NBN speeds range from built for a single person with bare-bolts internet needs to a home stuffed with those keen for no-compromise broadband speeds. Check out the table below for a breakdown of NBN speed tiers, max speeds, compatible NBN technologies and how many people each speed tier is meant for.

NBN speed tier
Max speeds (download/upload)
Compatible NBN technologies
Meant for
NBN 12 (NBN Basic I)12/1MbpsFTTP, HFC, FTTC, FTTB, FTTN, FW, sat.1 person
NBN 25 (NBN Basic II)25/5MbpsFTTP, HFC, FTTC, FTTB, FTTN, FW, sat.2 people
NBN 50 (NBN Standard)50/20MbpsFTTP, HFC, FTTC, FTTB, FTTN (select), FW3 or 4 people
NBN 75 (non-standard)75/20MbpsFTTP, HFC, FTTC, FTTB, FTTN (select), FW4 people
NBN 100 (NBN Fast)100/40Mbps (100/20Mbps typically)FTTP, HFC, FTTC, FTTB, FTTN (select), FW5 or more people
NBN 250 (NBN Superfast)250/25MbpsFTTP, HFC5 or more people
NBN 500 (non-standard)500/50MbpsFTTP, HFC5 or more people
NBN 1000 (NBN Ultrafast)1000/50MbpsFTTP, HFC5 or more people
NBN speed test
Keen to know how fast your NBN connection is (or any other type of internet)? Use the internet speed test tool below to determine how fast your connection is. The first test will measure download speed, then you can hit ‘Show More Info’ to test latency and upload speed. Match your speeds with the self-reported typical evening download speeds from your NBN provider to ensure you’re getting what you’re paying for.

NBN plans

We track the best NBN plans at the start of each month, but for easy reference, we’ve broken down some popular picks from our comparison engine below. First up, NBN 12 plans for bare-bolts internet:

Below is a list of popular plans for NBN 25:

Next is the popular plans for NBN 50:

For more speed, check out these popular NBN 100 plans:

Those in FTTP homes and most HFC abodes should be able to tap into NBN 250 plans:

Finally, all FTTP abodes and some HFC homes can sign up to the fastest NBN 1000 plans:

NBN providers

There are potentially dozens of providers available in your area, depending on your NBN technology type. In our comparison engine, we track the changing NBN plan prices, speeds and promotional offerings of more than 20 NBN providers, which includes:

How to connect to the NBN

Connecting to the NBN is just as easy as switching NBN providers: all you have to do is sign up for a plan. Whether you’re a first-time NBN user or shifting NBN providers, just pick the NBN plan you like the look of, then sign up for it. Your provider will let you know whether equipment like an NBN connection box or an NBN-compatible modem-router is required to get online and will liaise with NBN Co for relevant equipment installation and activation based on your scheduling preferences.

NBN connection boxes and NBN-compatible modem-routers

The NBN technology determines the type of networking gear you need to share the internet around your home. It’s quite straightforward, too. If you’re in a home connected to the NBN via FTTN or FTTB technologies, you’ll need an NBN-compatible modem-router. For all other homes, an NBN connection box acts as your NBN modem. You’ll want to connect the NBN connection box to a router (via Ethernet cable) to share the internet with all of your home’s connected devices.

Certain NBN providers will bundle a preconfigured NBN modem or modem-router when you sign up, but the trend is to BYO NBN-compatible modem. BYO modems let you get plans at the cheapest cost while preconfigured NBN modems should work out of the box without manual tweaking. They may also include 4G backup in the event of an NBN or provider network outage.

Nathan Lawrence
Written by
Nathan Lawrence
Nathan Lawrence has been banging out passionate tech and gaming words for more than 11 years. These days, you can find his work on outlets like IGN, STACK, Fandom, Red Bull and AusGamers. Nathan adores PC gaming and the proof of his first-person-shooter prowess is at the top of a Battlefield V scoreboard.

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