Settlement Guide

What you need to know about the NBN

Source: AAP Image/David Crosling

Here’s what you need to know about the NBN and how to find the best plan for your needs.

The National Broadband Network, or NBN, is a modernisation of the fixed phone and network in Australia. By 2020, almost every home and business should be connected to it.

The government decided to roll out the NBN so that all Australians, no matter where they lived, could have access to the same basic service.

How to prepare

You should receive information by mail before the NBN becomes available in your area. In the meantime, you can go check directly on the NBN website to know when you’ll be able to connect by using the “check your address” function.

If you have a medical alarm, emergency call button, lift emergency phone or monitored fire alarm, you need to register them with NBN.

If you're a business with EFTPOS, security monitoring systems or anything else linked to the phone line, you should also register them before the switch.

It's important to understand that the NBN Co is installing the network, but they're not selling services to consumers. You’ll deal with a telecommunication company like Optus, Telstra and TPG when you choose to be connected.

Switching won't be automatic, so you'll have to organise it yourself. If you don't switch to NBN before the deadline given to you, your fixed phone and Internet services will be disconnected.

Because NBN is a different technology, you might need to update the wiring in your home and upgrade to a new type of telephone.

You can find more information on the NBN website, but for any questions you have, the easiest way to get answers is to contact your phone and Internet provider.

NBN technician in front of an apartment block that has been connected to the National Broadband Network (NBN) in Brunswick, Melbourne
AAP Image/David Crosling

Choosing the right plan

When you choose your new plan, you'll first have to decide if you want a fixed phone service, Internet service or both.

For Internet, you'll need to decide what speed tier and how much data you need.

“If you're just doing email, maybe looking at the odd web page, then you probably don't need to have a very high-speed Internet connection. But if you're a family with lots of people studying and lots of people needing to get access to video content, then you might want to get a higher speed," explains Teresa Corbin, CEO of the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network.

She recommends that you contact your current provider to find out what’s your current usage.

Tony Brown, a spokesperson for the NBN Co, the company in charge of the NBN rollout, says that you should research which are the best providers for your needs.

“Another good tip for end users out there, is that rather then tying yourself with a lengthy plan with a retailer, which might be hard to get out of if you're not having a good experience, it can be a good idea to try a monthly contract with different retailers until you find a retailer that's good for you and delivering the kind of service that you want."

Ethernet data cables are seen in a server room in Canberra
AAP Image/Mick Tsikas


What if you have issues?

Some consumers have been experiencing issues with their new NBN connection. If it happens to you, the first thing to do is to contact your provider to ask for help.

If the issue persists and your provider is not helping, Teresa Corbin says that you are within your rights to contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, online or by phone at 1800 062 058, where interpreters are available.

“Basically, they will escalate your complaint and also, in some instances where they need to, if it's not resolved on escalation, then it can actually be investigated. And hopefully, if there's a need to, they might also be able to recommend where there's compensation due,” she explains.

More information

The NBN website is available in English and 16 other languages.

If you have questions about phone and Internet plans, contact your provider. If you need an interpreter, contact the Translating and Interpreting Service on 13 14 50.

More resources 

5 things you need to know about the NBN by ACCAN

Tips for picking a good value NBN plan by ACCAN