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What is the best NBN modem?

When it comes to having good internet at home, a good modem — or at least a modem that is up to date and compatible with NBN speeds — can make all the difference between a great home internet experience and a bad one.

For many of us, choosing the best NBN modem might be too complicated to think about, and that’s why NBN providers typically offer one or two modems for customers to add on to their NBN plan. However, given that your home internet relies on that modem, it’s still important to know whether your current modem (or one you’re looking at buying) is really helping or hindering your home’s internet performance.

What should I look for in an NBN modem router?

First of all, you’ll need to work out if you need a modem, router or ‘modem/router’. However, most of the modems you’ll find are the latter — a modem/router — which includes a modem in the router, and therefore serves a range of NBN connection needs all within the one device. If you’re still unsure about whether you need a modem for the NBN, you can read our guide with more information about NBN modems and routers.

You’ll also need to make sure that the modem will suit your home internet needs. Some things to consider are:

  • Speed: Check what the maximum speed of your plan is in Megabits per second (Mbps), and make sure you find a modem with a good enough speed for your needs.
  • Price: Make sure you’re spending within your budget, whether it’s cheaper to BYO modem or add a modem on to your plan.
  • Mesh capabilities: If you’re trying to cover a big property, consider picking up a modem with Mesh networking capabilities.
  • Bands: Look for modems with dual-band capability, 5GHz band for faster speeds, and 2.4GHz for greater distances.
  • Firmware: Find a modem that’s simple to update with an easy portal — outdated modems can be vulnerable to viruses and hackers, so make sure you find one that’s easy to use, secure, and preferably one with automatic firmware updates.

What are the best NBN modems?

Choosing the best NBN modem will be about what is best suited for your needs. You may also find that it’s easier to trust the modem supplied by your NBN provider, as this modem is most likely adequate for your NBN plan and connection, and will often be pre-configured.

To give you an idea of what modems are available, we’ll take you through the best modems for NBN currently available through some of the most popular NBN providers in Australia.

Keep in mind that some providers are very upfront with which modems are available, while others might not have as much information on offer, or require you to initiate a sign up to access your options. Providers may also change which modems they offer, or be out of stock of certain makes or models when you sign up.

Telstra: Telstra Smart Modem 3Telstra Smart Modem 3

  • Dual band
  • 4G backup
  • $216 (costs covered when you stay connection for 24 months)

If you’ve chosen an NBN plan with Telstra, you’ll get the Telstra Smart Modem 3 included on your plan. The modem is free upfront, however if you cancel your plan before 24 months, you’ll need to return the modem or pay a $200 non-return fee. Existing Telstra customers can also buy the modem outright for $216 upfront. Considering Telstra includes landline in all of its NBN plans, the Telstra Smart Modem 3 might be the one of the best NBN modem routers with VOIP capabilities if you’re looking for plans with phone calls included (without an additional home phone package cost).

Telstra boasts that the Smart Modem 3 has faster speeds (60% faster than its previous modem), with next-generation tech for a stronger WiFi signal to help extend the range throughout the home. In the case of an NBN outage, the modem includes a built-in 4G SIM card, so it will switch to the Telstra 4G mobile network within minutes (provided your home has Telstra 4G coverage). It also has mesh compatibility and a SmartFix feature to automatically detect and fix internet connection issues. The Smart Modem 3 also includes WiFi 6 technology with better security, and can support up to four times more WiFi capacity and up to 12 devices streaming at once.

Optus: Optus Ultra WiFi ModemOptus Ultra WiFi modem

  • Dual band
  • 4G backup
  • $252 (costs covered when you stay connected for 36 months)

Signing up to an Optus NBN plan (Internet Everyday and Internet Family Entertainer plans) will mean you get the Optus Ultra WiFi modem included on your plan. If you cancel after your first month, you’ll need to pay the $252 modem cost; however if you stay connected over 36 months, you’ll pay $0 for your modem, with $7 of the modem cost covered each month you stay connected.

The Optus Ultra WiFi Modem includes 4G network backup, provided you’re in an area with Optus 4G mobile network coverage. It also boasts a strong WiFi signal and an easy setup, with 4G connection switched on before your NBN is activated. If you’ve signed up to the Internet Family Entertainer plan, you’ll also receive an included WiFi booster to improve the signal throughout your home.

Aussie Broadband: Netcomm NF18MESH modem

  • Dual band
  • Comes pre-configured for your network type
  • $149 upfront

Aussie Broadband offers either a BYO modem plan, or the option to add on a Netcomm modem to your NBN plan. This is a much more basic modem than what you’ll get from Telstra or Optus, but it does include dual bands, and will come pre-configured to your network connection type.

The Netcomm NF18MESH modem is, as its name might suggest, mesh WiFi compatible, so you can set up a mesh system to extend coverage throughout your home. As an alternative modem add-on, Aussie Broadband offers the Google Nest system, which includes a Nest WiFi router and one nest point in the basic package, or a Nest WiFi router and two points in the larger package.

Vodafone: Vodafone WiFi Hub 2.0Vodafone WiFi Hub

  • Dual band
  • 4G backup
  • $180 (costs covered when you stay connected for 24 months)

Vodafone offers the option to either BYO modem, or choose a plan with a modem bundled in. Only NBN plans bundled with the modem will include access to 4G backup (where Vodafone 4G mobile network coverage is available). You’ll pay $0 for the $180 modem if you stay connected for 24 months, however if you cancel your plan, you’ll need to pay the remaining modem cost ($7.50 per month for the remaining months).

In addition to 4G backup, the Vodafone WiFi Hub 2.0 supports up to 64 devices on WiFi. Vodafone also states that the WiFi Hub will update its firmware automatically, but you can still update this manually.

TPG: High-speed WiFi modem

  • Dual band
  • $109.95 upfront cost ($99.95 setup + $10 modem delivery)

TPG currently doesn’t list the exact model it is including if you choose to add a modem onto your plan, however has listed the TP-Link VX420-G2v or TP-Link VR1600v as supplied modems in setup information. The telco does claim that the modem supplied is an advanced WiFi 6-capable modem with a hassle-free setup. It also claims the modem will be suitable for high-speed NBN plans, which is useful if you’re planning on signing up to any of TPG’s superfast NBN plans. Adding a modem onto your TPG plan will cost you a $99.95 setup fee and $10 delivery, making it $109.95 upfront in total.

The modem image that TPG shows is for a TP Link-branded modem, however there is also the caveat that makes and models of the modem supplied by TPG are subject to availability. TPG looks to be encouraging users to buy their own modem — rather than relying on a provider-supplied modem — as it offers a $100 modem rebate to new customers, as long as you purchase your modem within 30 days before or after signing up to your TPG NBN plan.

Best NBN modem for gaming: Optus ASUS DSL-AX5400 Gaming ModemOptus ASUS gaming modem

  • Dual band
  • $504 (costs covered when you stay connected for 36 months)

If you’re after a modem that will give you a great gaming experience, Optus offers the ASUS DSL-AX5400 gaming modem included on its Internet Gamer plan. This modem costs $504, however, you’ll pay $0 if you stay connected for 36 months.

The modem includes WiFi 6 and will prioritise gaming devices to boost speed and prevent congestion, and there are also four LAN ports (ethernet ports). You are also able to choose from a variety of lighting effects and customise them with the ASUS Aura RGB lighting, so your modem can fit in with the rest of your gaming setup.

What is the best NBN modem for a big house?

If you’ve got a big house, and you’re having trouble getting WiFi coverage to extend throughout the entire property, your NBN router might not have enough signal strength. You can either pick up a WiFi extender or booster, or if you don’t want signal quality to drop off, consider getting a Mesh WiFi modem.

What is the best NBN modem with 4G backup?

If you’re concerned about the NBN dropping out, consider picking up a modem with a 4G backup. NBN modems with 4G backup capabilities will automatically switch your service to a 4G mobile network in the event of outages. Telstra, Optus and Vodafone all offer modems with 4G backup. Of course, if you pick up a modem with 4G backup (and the plan to match), you’ll need to be in an area with the right mobile network coverage.

NBN Plans & Prices

Thinking of a new NBN plan or provider to go with your new modem? Check out some of the providers and plans available below. The table below contains affiliate links.

The following table shows a selection of sponsored unlimited data Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN 50), and Premium Evening Speed (NBN 100) plans on Canstar Blue’s database with links to referral partners.

Unlimited Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN 50) Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN 50) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost (excluding discounts), from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Unlimited Premium Evening Speed (NBN 100) Plans

The table below shows a selection of published unlimited Premium Evening Speed (NBN 100) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Popular modem brands

There are plenty of different brands out there that make modem-routers. Keep in mind that if you go with the modem router provided by your NBN provider you’ll have limited choice as to what model you get. Here’s a list of popular modem manufacturers to look into if you decide to buy your own modem:

  • TP Link
  • Netgear
  • ASUS
  • D-Link
  • Huawei
  • Eero
  • Google

How to improve your modem’s performance

The performance of your modem can also depend on several factors. For example, the placement of the modem in your home can impact its performance, so even if you have the ‘best’ modem on the market, if you’re placing it in a bad position, you’re likely not going to have the great performance you’re expecting. Here are some tips for how to get the best out of your modem.

Placement

As already mentioned, where you position your modem in the home can impact the performance. Of course, this might be out of your control if you need to be close to a phone port and electricity outlet. However, ensure it is not placed near appliances such as a microwave or fridge, and preferably away from thick walls (such as brick walls). Having it placed in a more open area of the house, such as a lounge room, may be the best option.

Use the ethernet port

While WiFi is typically what most of our devices will use, you can still plug some devices into your modem directly with an ethernet cable. Consider plugging in devices such as desktop computers or TVs to your modem via ethernet, rather than relying on WiFi.

Choose the right WiFi band

If you have a dual-band modem (which most modems have), you’ll choose between the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. The 2.4GHz band reaches further but is slower, while the 5GHz is faster and will work better if you’re closer to the modem. Devices located the furthest from your modem might work best on the 2.4GHz band, while closer devices may benefit from the 5GHz band.

Buy a WiFi extender or Mesh WiFi system

If you have a large home, it might be hard for your WiFi signal to reach all corners of the home. That’s where it could come in handy to buy a WiFi extender, or choose a modem/router with Mesh WiFi capabilities. These devices can help to boost your signal and extend it throughout the home.

Compare NBN plans

If you’re looking to buy a new NBN modem, you might want to switch NBN plans. You’ll ultimately want to sign up to a BYO modem NBN plan, unless the provider you sign up to has the modem you want. The below tables show a range of NBN plans and providers. Switch between the tabs to compare plans on different speed tiers.

Unlimited Premium Evening Speed (NBN 100) Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Premium Evening Speed (NBN 100) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Unlimited Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN 50) Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN 50) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Unlimited Standard Evening Speed (NBN 25) Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Standard Evening Speed (NBN 25) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Unlimited Basic Evening Speed (NBN 12) Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Basic Evening Speed (NBN 12) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

FAQs about NBN modems

If your modem is VDSL-capable, it’s compatible with the NBN. Simply have a look at your modem and see if it says anything about VDSL.

At the time of publishing, it’s safe to say that most modems you’d find available in stores, online or from your NBN provider are NBN-capable, unless specified otherwise (such as wireless broadband modems).

You most likely don’t need a new NBN compatible modem-router, unless your modem is quite old and this is your first time switching to the NBN. The good thing about newer modem-routers is that they will typically work with whatever NBN technology is being used at your property.

That being said, you should check that your modem is VDSL-capable before getting rid of it and buying a new one. If your home is connected by FTTP, FTTC, fixed wireless or HFC technologies, you’ll also need to make sure your modem has a WAN port.

If you want an easy solution to your modem-router woes, get a modem-router from your NBN provider. The modem-router that is sent to you from your NBN provider will be easier to set up than a modem you purchase yourself. It will also be easier for your NBN provider to diagnose when the modem is having a fault.

That being said, modems purchased through an ISP are not without their flaws. Typically, modems purchased through an NBN provider will be more expensive, and usually have pretty steep payment terms tacked on (such as needing to pay the modem-router off over 24 or 36 months). For this reason, if your priority is saving money, it might be worth purchasing a modem-router separately from your ISP.

Firmware is a type of software embedded in hardware (in this case, a modem). Like software for any device — think about a smartphone for example — a manufacturer will release updates in order to ensure it is still working well, improve performance, etc.

Considering how important updates are for your smartphone (especially when it comes to security), the same can be said for any technology, especially modems. Therefore, if your modem doesn’t include automatic firmware updates, you’ll need to update it manually.

In order to update your firmware manually, open a web browser (on a computer, tablet, smartphone, etc) and enter your modem/router’s IP into your web address bar. This should then take you to a log in page, where you can log into your account, and there should be a section for updating your firmware, which you can then update if applicable. If you are having trouble doing this, contact your internet provider. You might also find more specific instructions for how to do this — and how to find your modem’s IP address — by going to your NBN provider’s website.

Choosing a modem with 4G backup has its obvious advantages. For those moments when there’s an issue with the NBN, still being able to access the internet in your home — without hotspotting from your mobile phone — is definitely an advantage.

However, not many modems will offer this capability, and typically only the big telcos will have this option (along with the mobile network to support it). If you want 4G backup with your NBN plan and the modem to support it, you’ll need to compare a range of NBN plans and supplied modems to find an option right for you.

 

 

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