How to configure a modem

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One of the most daunting things about getting a new NBN connection is the modem setup. There’s so many different types of modems, and so many different settings, that the thought of configuring a modem yourself can seem a little scary. But have no fear – Canstar Blue has all your modem setup questions answered, plus some simple steps that you can follow to have your hardware up-and-running ASAP.

Just keep in mind that while we can provide some great tips for setting up your modem, modems and routers can vary greatly in complexity. 

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What is a modem?

A modem is the device that sits at the heart of your home internet connection, acting as a gateway between your internet-capable devices and the internet itself. The modem in your home controls how many devices can be connected to the internet, and plugs directly into your home’s internet infrastructure.

Most NBN-ready modems are both modems and routers, which causes a lot of confusion given they’re typically different things. This device (or devices) connect through to a direct wall port in your house (which typically takes the form of a phone port, cable port, or an NBN ready box if you’re on a Fibre to the Premises connection).

By connecting to this infrastructure, you’re able to access the World Wide Web. Using this connection, data travels between your home and ‘nodes’ across the country, and the world, so you’re able to access websites, browse social media, watch videos and play online games.

What is the difference between a modem and a router?

While modems are the device that allow you to connect to the internet, routers allow your devices to connect to the modem. Since the launch of the NBN, routers have become a point of exchange where the middle-man has largely been cut out, as most NBN-ready modems are actually modem-router combos. For the sake of this article, and to keep it simple when you shop around, we’ll be referring to modem-routers as modems. 

Quick guide: How to configure a modem

Using any device with a browser, connect to the WiFi network of your modem. Open the browser, and enter the gateway address written on the back of the modem (this is commonly a string of numbers, such as 00.13.11.189). Then enter your modem username and password, which should also be on the modem. Find where your “PPP” information is (it should be in the IPv4 area). contact your ISP and ask for your PPP username and password, then enter them in the correct areas. Save your work and you should be ready.

How do I configure a modem?

Configuring a modem can seem complicated, and often it can be quite difficult to tell what step you’re up to, or what you need to do next. But as long as you’ve got the capable equipment, and the right instructions from your internet service provider (ISP), everything should be breezy. Below we’ve got some quick steps that you should follow.

  1. Make sure your property is NBN ready
  2. Make sure you’ve signed up for an NBN plan, and that it’s activated
  3. Make sure all your cables are plugged in right, and are firm in their slots
  4. Power up your modem, wait five to ten minutes
  5. Connect to your modem’s gateway (wired or wireless)
  6. Contact your ISP for your modem configuration details
  7. Enter the details, and your internet should be ready

Make sure your property is NBN ready

You can check if your property is NBN-ready online through the NBN Co website. NBN Co offers a simple tool for checking your property: simply enter your address or search for your home on the interactive map. If your property isn’t yet NBN-ready, it’ll give you an estimate for when you should expect the service to be available.

If your property is NBN-ready, your ISP should be able to take it from there. Although there can be hiccups and errors in confirming the NBN address, this isn’t common outside of newly-developed properties and areas.

Make sure you’ve signed up for an internet plan and that it’s activated

Without an active NBN plan, you’ll be unable to connect your home to the internet. You can sign up for an NBN plan through a range of providers: with hundreds of plans available, a little comparing will help you find an option that caters for your speed, data and price needs. You can get also NBN plans coupled to extras such as streaming services or phone bundles, and some providers even offer super-fast speeds of 250Mbps or faster. 

Below you’ll find a list of NBN plans across various speeds tiers that will help you start your search.

The following table shows a selection of published NBN plans for $60 or less 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 to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

The following table shows a selection of other published NBN plans for $60 or less 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 to see plans from a range of other providers.

Make sure all your cables are plugged in right, and are firm in their slots

Plug an Ethernet cable from your NBN box or wall socket into the WAN port of your modem (it should be marked as such). From here, you should be able to connect your device to your modem through an Ethernet connection (plugged into a LAN port), or through the wireless signal (open your device’s Settings app or folder, and look for the internet or network connections option). From here, your modem should have access to the internet, but you won’t be able to Google anything just yet!

Having trouble figuring out which cable is which? If your modem is new, you should have received an instruction manual which should designate where your cables go. If all else fails, follow the steps in this instruction booklet.

Unboxed modem and pet cat

Power up your modem, wait five to 10 minutes

This is an easy step, as all you need to do is make sure your modem is switched on. This can typically be done by pressing the power button, and making sure your modem is connected to a working power outlet. Most modems will feature an on/off light, so you’ll know when it’s switched on and plugged in. 

Connect to your modem’s gateway (wired or wireless)

Here’s where things can get a bit technical. Attached to your modem or included in your modem’s box should be an address for you to type into the URL bar of a browser (this could be a string of numbers such as “00.13.11.189”, or “http://telstra.gateway/” if you’re a Telstra customer). Enter whatever the provided URL address is into a URL bar, and enter the username and password provided.

From here, you should have access to the back end of your modem, and the back end of your entire home internet network. 

Contact your ISP for your modem configuration details

Contact your ISP and to let them know that your modem has been set-up and is ready to connect to the internet, and that you’ll need a “PPP Username” and a “PPP Password”. Typically the PPP username will be a string of characters followed by an address such as “@internetprovider.com.au”. The password will consist of characters and numbers. 

Head back to your modem gateway, and look for open fields or tabs labelled “PPP settings” –  alternatively, it could be under a tab saying “IPv4”. Once you’ve found the right boxes, enter the username and password in the appropriate spaces.

This manually entered username and password authenticates your connection to the internet, and as soon as you hit “Apply” or “Save” (depending on your modem), you should be able to access the internet.

Enter the details, and your internet should be ready

Once you’ve hit the “Apply” button (or however your modem saves changes), you should notice the internet connection symbol on your device change. From here, you should have the all-clear to use the internet in your home through your modem and ISP. 

Now that you’re connected, you may want to change your WiFi signal name and password to something more personalised that you’ll remember. The lights on your modem should also change colour to correspond with your WiFi settings. 

What modem should I get?

If you don’t think you’re up to the challenge of entering your own details with your ISP walking you through the steps, you may prefer to get a pre-configured modem through your NBN provider. These modems are well-known by your ISP, and your provider’s customer support team can answer any of your questions about the device. If you’re concerned about losing your connection and you’d like an emergency option in case of outages, it could be worth investing in a modem with a 4G backup. If you’d like a modem with extra kick, it might be worth shopping around for a heavy-duty modem with extra bandwidth. 

Ordering a modem through ISP is a painless, easy way of setting up your home internet, and typically it can streamline you through this guide. Often your ISP could give you a selection of modems to choose from, with different prices and capabilities, and optimised for your plan and service. Sometimes you can get a modem for free through your ISP, but this usually means you’ll need to sign for a six, 12, or 24-month contract.

Some ISPs offer modems with 4G backup routers, although these will sometimes incur an extra cost. Telstra, Vodafone, Optus and Tangerine each offer modems/hubs with backup internet services that will switch your connection to their respective 4G networks (and on Tangerine plans, the 4G Optus network). Alternatively, you could consider mobile broadband – including WiFi dongles and SIM-only data plans – as a backup option for NBN outages.

Do I need a new modem for an NBN connection?

You will need an NBN-ready modem to use on your NBN connection, but you may not actually need to buy new hardware if your existing modem is up-to-date. Often, your ADSL modem can be compatible with NBN, making buying a new one not entirely necessary. In Australia modems are sold as being ‘NBN compatible’ or ‘NBN ready’, so when you’re shopping for a modem keep an eye out for those identifiers.

Typically you’ll need a modem-router that’s compatible with VDSL to use on the NBN, but some modems on the market should be compatible with both NBN and ADSL connections, unless specified otherwise.

Need more help?

If you still have questions about modems, routers, or the basics of NBN setup, we’ve compiled a list of related guides below.

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