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How to set up your Telstra NBN modem

Buying a Telstra NBN plan means you get sent a Telstra NBN modem. Here’s everything you need to know about setting it up.

Nathan Lawrence
May 05, 2022
Icon Time To Read4 min read

Telstra is one of those rare NBN providers that bundles an NBN-compatible modem with its NBN plans. While you do have to stick around for 24 months to not pay any hardware exit fees, the Telstra Smart Modem range has improved with each generational upgrade and makes getting online easier.

You’ll need to sign up for a Telstra NBN plan to score one, though, so check out the daily updating list below of a handful of cheap Telstra NBN picks from our comparison engine.

Pros and cons of using a provider modem
The two biggest pros of using a provider modem are they arrive preconfigured and ready to go out of the box, plus they’re so much easier to troubleshoot. If you prefer a BYO modem, you won’t have to think about hardware exit fees, you may be able to preserve your favourite settings, access faster speeds than provider modems (specifically compared to older models), and have a greater degree of freedom in tweaking your network settings. The biggest downside is potential compatibility and support concerns, which is why providers like Telstra and Optus strongly encourage you to use the modem they send.

Telstra NBN modem options

Signing up for a Telstra NBN plan today means you’ll be sent a Telstra Smart Modem Gen 3, which succeeds the Telstra Smart Modem Gen 2, as well as the Telstra Smart Modem and Telstra Frontier Gateways before it. Considering the Telstra Smart Modem Gen 2 originally released in 2018, if you’re a Telstra customer working with one of those older models, it’s worth chatting with Telstra to see if you can upgrade to the Telstra Smart Modem Gen 3.

That said, even the oldest Telstra networking devices are modem-routers, meaning they’re built to work with all NBN technologies. The big difference is that the original Telstra Smart Modem added home phone support and WiFi booster capabilities for NBN connections, while the Gen 2 and Gen 3 Telstra Smart Modems offer optional Games Optimiser compatibility. Basically, whichever one you have, you’re working with a Telstra WiFi modem.

Telstra Smart Modem Gen 3

Universal steps for setting up a Telstra Smart Modem

While the internal technology has advanced between the three Telstra Smart Modem generations, the configuration steps are the same. All homes should find an appropriate spot for the Telstra Smart Modem. Ideally, you want to keep it somewhere central, free of potentially interfering electrical devices, and in a raised position (if possible). Keep it near enough to an electrical outlet, too. You can go ahead and plug in your Telstra Smart Modem now, but don’t power it on just yet.

Telstra also advises avoiding placing your Telstra Smart Modem inside cabinets or behind large objects but does advise placing it near a window for the best WiFi signal throughout your home.

For people in Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP), Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) and Fibre-to-the-Curb (FTTC) homes, you’ll want to place the Telstra Smart Modem close enough to your NBN connection box to reach with an Ethernet cable. Those in Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN) and Fibre-to-the-Building (FTTB) homes should place the Telstra Smart Modem within reach of an NBN wall outlet.

After you’ve followed the Telstra Smart Modem connection steps below, connect the devices in your home via WiFi or Ethernet. There are four yellow LAN ports on the back of the Telstra Smart Modem for Ethernet-compatible devices, plus you can use the included red fridge magnet for the network name and password details for WiFi devices.

If you do want to change the WiFi network name and password to something different, you’ll need to use different Telstra Smart Modem login details. Enter either http://telstra.gateway/ or into a web browser to sign in to the control panel. The username should be ‘admin’ and the password is ‘Telstra’ for older Telstra Smart Modems; for the Telstra Smart Modem Gen 3, it’s the same ‘admin’ username but the password is the same as the one on the bottom of the device. Telstra has a guide if you get stuck.

Choose ‘WiFi’ from the top menu, then change the WiFi network name (SSID) and WiFi security fields to whatever you’d like. Hit ‘Apply’ to save the changes, then be sure to update those details on any WiFi devices you want to connect to your Telstra Smart Modem.

Icon Tooltip  Light
What’s my NBN technology type?

If you’re wondering which NBN technology connects your home, head to the NBN website. At the top of the page, enter your address in the ‘Check your address’ field then confirm it from the drop-down options and click/tap ‘View results’. The results page includes a section entitled ‘Technology used in your connection’, which will tell you the NBN technology that connects your address.

Telstra Smart Modem setup guide

FTTP, HFC and FTTC homes should use the included Ethernet cable to connect the Telstra Smart Modem to the NBN connection box. It really doesn’t matter which end you use, but Telstra has colour coded this cable, so the red end should go into the red WAN port on the back of the Telstra Smart Modem and the yellow end goes into the UNI-D1 port (FTTP and HFC) or Gateway port (FTTC) on your NBN connection box.

FTTB and FTTC users should grab the grey telephone cable and plug one end into the NBN wall outlet and the other into the grey DSL port on the back of the Telstra Smart Modem. Don’t use any line filters between the Telstra Smart Modem and NBN wall outlet.

Regardless of your NBN technology, now’s the time to power on the Telstra Smart Modem. Telstra estimates that it takes about 15 minutes for the Smart Modem to automatically update its software and get everything ready to connect to the internet. During this time, the Telstra Smart Modem light on the front will start out white to indicate it’s booting up, change to orange to show it’s connecting, then eventually settle on green to show it’s connected.

It’s normal for the Telstra Smart Modem lights to alternate between white, orange and green during start-up. If you have any issues after half an hour, power off the Telstra Smart Modem for a minute, then turn it back on again and it should fix itself after rebooting. If not, reach out to Telstra NBN tech support.

If you ever notice a blue light, it means your Telstra Smart Modem has switched to 4G backup, likely because there’s an NBN outage.

Got a landline phone service with Telstra?
If you want to use a landline telephone with your Telstra NBN plan, you’ll need to ensure you have a compatible handset. With that sorted, connect one end of a telephone cable into the handset and the other end into the green Phone port on the back of the Telstra Smart Modem

More popular NBN plans with an included modem

Here are some of the cheap NBN modem bundles currently available.
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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