What to do if you experience an NBN outage

Georgia Dixon
Digital Content Editor
Read More
August 13, 2021
4 min read

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Australia’s internet infrastructure has come a long way in the last decade, but just because we’re browsing faster, it doesn’t mean we’re immune to the odd outage from time to time. The stability of your NBN connection depends on a number of factors, some of which (like networking equipment and internet provider) you can control, and some, like your NBN technology type and scheduled network maintenance, you cannot.

So, we’ve created this step-by-step guide to help you find the source of your NBN outage and, hopefully, the solution.

Initial troubleshooting

Power cycle your networking gear

For the uninitiated, “power cycling” is the fancy term for turning your modem or router off, then back on again. Yep, that old chestnut. It might seem obvious, but it’s the most common solution to an internet outage.

Power cycling instructions differ between manufacturers, but most recommend leaving the devices off for around 30 to 60 seconds before powering them back on. Once all the usual lights are back on (usually a couple of minutes after restarting your networking gear), try your internet again. Hopefully that solves your issue, but if not, check out our comprehensive network troubleshooting guide for more ideas.

Is the outage affecting every device, or just one?

If your internet is out on your laptop, you might assume it’s out on every device. But before delving any deeper into finding the cause of your NBN outage, test the internet on other devices first. Is your gaming console, smart TV or smartphone still connected? If so, try restarting the device that isn’t working, or contact the manufacturer for assistance.

If you find the internet is out on all your devices and power cycling your networking equipment doesn’t help, the outage may be due to something completely out of your control, which we'll get into next.

Finding the source of your NBN outage

Beyond device and networking issues, the list of potential sources of your internet outage becomes a lot shorter. The next step is to figure out if your NBN provider has reported an outage due to scheduled maintenance or network issues.

To do this, you’ll need to visit your provider’s website. In the help or support section, there should be a link to check the network status. There, you can enter your address and find out whether or not your area is experiencing issues.

If you’re unable to check the network status via your provider’s website, you can also do so on the NBN network status and outages page. From there, type in your address to check for any outages. You should also be able to see if there’s any planned maintenance in your area coming up in the next 10 days.

Potential solutions for an NBN outage

1. Use your phone as a hotspot until the outage is over

This is definitely a short term solution (unless you’re blessed with unlimited mobile data) but generally speaking, NBN outages don’t last long. In that case, using your phone as a hotspot could be just enough to get you through the outage.

For both Android and iOS users, you simply need to open your settings, type “hotspot” in the search bar then tap on the top result. From there, all you need to do is turn your personal hotspot on, set a password, and connect to it from your other devices. Just keep an eye on your data usage if you're working with limited gigabytes.

2. Switch providers

Each quarter, the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) tracks our top internet providers, measuring their typical download and upload speeds, latency, load time and outages lasting more than 30 seconds. That last one is important if you find your internet goes down quite often.

According to the ACCC, the worst providers for outages are Extel, Optus and Superloop, while MyRepublic, iiNet and Aussie Broadband rank as the best. Here are the most popular NBN50 plans with those three providers:

Alternatively, you might want to consider opting for a provider that offers a 4G backup modem. In the event of an NBN outage, these modems switch your internet over to the 4G mobile network to tide you over until you’re back online. Currently, only Telstra, Optus and Vodafone offer 4G backup modems. Here are their most popular NBN 50 plans:

3. Switch to home wireless

If you’ve already tried multiple providers and still find yourself facing outage after outage, it may be time to switch lanes completely. Home wireless broadband uses Australia’s existing mobile networks (either 4G or 5G, depending on your provider) to connect your home to the internet, rather than hooking you up to the NBN.

For those who are unfortunate enough to have a bad NBN connection but fortunate enough to have great mobile reception, home wireless is a good alternative. However, untethering from the NBN does come with a few downsides.

Firstly, most home wireless plans offer capped data of between 200GB and 500GB per month. That might be more than enough for some people, but larger households may find themselves struggling to make their data larder last the full month.

Second, you may have to fork out for new networking gear, as your old modem probably won’t suffice. And, because that modem relies on mobile network reception, it’s subject to the same instability and congestion issues as your phone plan. We recommend checking your home's network coverage before committing to a home wireless plan.

Finally, if you were hoping to get lightning-fast speeds, you’re out of luck. Unless you opt for a 5G home wireless plan, you’ll be stuck at around 40 Mbps. That’s still good, but families who like to stream different shows at the same time or download new games constantly may struggle.

Still, if you’re happy to accept those few caveats, home wireless may be just what you’ve been looking for. Below are the most popular home wireless plans in Australia right now.

Georgia Dixon
Written by
Georgia Dixon
Georgia Dixon has over seven years' experience writing about all things tech, entertainment and lifestyle, with bylines in TechLife magazine, 7NEWS and Stuff.co.nz. In her spare time, you'll find her playing games and daydreaming about good food, wine, and dogs.

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