NBN Co vs NBN: What’s the difference?

NBN is a three-letter initialism that is more often used as an adjective than a noun. Here’s what NBN means in different contexts.

January 24, 2022
2 min read

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Who knew a three-letter initialism could be so versatile: NBN. These days, the term is ubiquitous for a network, plus used as an adjectival stamp for equipment and things associated with that Australia-wide network. But how does it compare to NBN Co?


Whatever way you cut it, in the context of internet in Australia, NBN is short for National Broadband Network. Chuck a ‘Co’ after that and you’re referring to the company that’s building the network. Leave the ‘Co’ off, and you’re referring to the network side of things. That’s really the long and short of it.

It’s a bit confusing at times because NBN Co sometimes stylistically refers to itself as nbn (lower case), but whether you see it in lowercase form or full NBN Co form, it’s in reference to the company. Generally, whenever you see all-caps ‘NBN’ by itself, on this site or other places online, it’s safe to assume that it’s in reference to the network side of things.

A brief NBN Co history lesson

And now a quick history lesson. NBN Co was first established in 2009 with the intent of designing, rolling out and running an Australia-wide wholesale broadband access network. Let’s take a closer look at the last few words of that preceding sentence.

Now that the NBN design and rollout phases have finished, “wholesale” just means that NBN Co is responsible for the ongoing operation and, ideally, smooth sailing of the NBN. Meanwhile, “broadband” is a term that’s been used for decades for fast internet but, mercifully, expectations have changed from when ADSL2+ was one of the fastest forms of broadband. Finally, “access network” describes where the NBN sits between other networks: namely, squarely between the private network in your home and the providers selling plans.

Because the design and rollout phases of the NBN are finished, NBN Co is now focused on upgrading the network, specifically opt-in technology upgrades for many Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN) and Fibre-to-the-Curb (FTTC) homes around Australia.

How do I contact NBN Co?

There aren’t really many situations where you should consider contacting NBN Co directly. Because NBN Co is a network wholesaler, you’re better off reaching out to your NBN provider for any questions before contacting NBN Co. In fact, NBN Co recommends speaking to your NBN provider about the following issues:

  • Loss of internet or phone connection (which includes outages or dropouts)
  • Problems with getting connected
  • Concerns about download or upload speeds
  • Missing equipment
  • Incorrect or missing address
  • Making appointments (this includes when a technician doesn’t show up)
  • Delays for service connection

Still, if you want to reach out, you can speak with someone at NBN Co by calling the 1800 687 626 contact number, which is the place to call for general enquiries.

NBN Co check address

To check which NBN services NBN Co provides to your address, you can head to the NBN ‘Check your address’ website. Alternatively, enter your address in the look-up tool below and, optionally, select the speed you’re after from the drop-down menu. Click on the ‘Search’ button, then you’ll see a tailored list of internet options available at your address from our comparison engine, including NBN plans.

Below is a daily updating list of popular NBN 50 plans—the most popular NBN speed tier in Australia—from our comparison engine.

NBN Co outages

If you’re searching for answers to NBN Co outages, this is a bit of a misnomer. NBN Co as a company doesn’t have outages, but the network (NBN) that the company has built does sometimes have outages. To check if there’s a current or upcoming NBN outage in your area (listed 10 days in advance), visit the NBN Co network outages page. Note that there are NBN outages that are part of planned maintenance, but these outages tend to happen in the wee hours of the morning to minimise disruptions.

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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