The deployment of the National Broadband Network (NBN) has been rolling on rather lethargically over the past couple of years, but there’s nothing lethargic about the blazing fast download speeds it could potentially and eventually offer. Speed may well be everything, or at least a highly motivating factor, but when it comes to upgrading to a new NBN plan, you may not benefit from the network’s full potential without the right equipment. So does your modem-router need an upgrade, and if it does, what should you be looking out for? Find out what you need to know with Canstar Blue.
What is the difference between a modem and a router?
Modems are the devices that allow you to connect to the internet, while the router emits the Wi-Fi signal that devices would use, essentially ‘routing’ your devices through to your modem, where the data is deciphered. A modem-router – as the name suggest – is a combination of these two devices. If you’re still not sure what you need, check out our guide on modem versus routers.
Are all modems NBN compatible?
Unfortunately, not all modems are NBN compatible, with the newer technology and improved capabilities of the NBN requiring sturdier hardware to support it. As a result, unless you purchased a new modem recently , you’ll likely need a new one to work with the NBN.
How to check if your modem is NBN compatible
For most NBN connections, you’ll need a modem that is labelled as ADSL2+, VDSL or VDSL2, which you can usually see on the back of the modem. For certain NBN connection types, such as NBN Wireless or Fibre to the Premise (FTTP), you’ll also need a modem with an Ethernet WAN port. As a quick tip, your provider will often offer a modem with your NBN plan, or you can simply look for a modem or router with a ‘NBN Ready’ sticker attached, or check the NBN Co’s website for a full list of device requirements.
Find a new NBN plan
If you’re ready to jump to the NBN, or simply want to change your current plan or provider, we’ve compiled some of our top picks in the below tables.
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.
Standard Plus Evening Speed
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Standard Plus Evening Speed
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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.
What type of NBN modem do I need?
How fast and reliable your internet speed is can be dependent on your modem (provided you’ve also signed up to a fast plan in the first place). If you live in a larger household with high-internet needs, you may need a modem with more features and capabilities than the run-of-the-mill, such as dual-band technology or a larger Wi-Fi range. Additionally, it’s worth looking at the ‘standard’ of the modem, which is identified by the letter at the end of the number pattern ‘802.11’. If you need a lot from your modem, it’s recommended to look for a model that has 802.11ac on the back, as this is generally considered the highest standard.
You’ll also need to factor in what connection type you’ll be using, as certain connection types, such as the faster Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) connection, generally need more capable hardware to reach the higher speeds.
Read more: What internet speed do I need?
NBN compatible modems
Below are some of the NBN compatible modems that are available in the market, with some available to purchase outright, or can be selected when you sign up to a new provider or NBN plan. NBN compatible modems include:
- ASUS DSL-AC56U
- ASUS DSL-AC68U
- D Link DSL-2877AL
- D Link DSL-2885A
- Draytek 2860n/n+/Vn/ac/Vac
- Draytek 2760
- Linksys Velop Dual Band
- Netcomm NF4V
- Netcomm NF17ACV
- Netcomm NF10W
- Netgear Nighthawk AX12
- Netgear Nighthawk X4S D7800
- Netgear D6400
- TP Link Archer C7
- TP Link Archer VR600
- TP Link TD-VG5612
Can I buy an NBN compatible modem outright?
Yes, you can purchase an NBN compatible modem through a third-party retailer like an electronics store, with some NBN providers also offering the option to purchase a modem without also purchasing an NBN plan. However, as most providers bundle a modem in with your NBN plan, some may find it more convenient to simply get a new modem when they sign up to the NBN.
How much do NBN compatible modems cost?
NBN compatible modems can cost anywhere between $60 and over $1,000 outright, depending on the model, brand and features available.
How to set up your NBN compatible modem or router
Setting up your modem-router can prove a tricky process, particularly if you’ve never done it before. However, there’s little difference between setting a regular modem and an NBN compatible modem, although this depends on your connection type, with connection-specific instructions often coming with your new modem.
However, to help you get the most out of your NBN compatible modem, NBN Co advises that:
- Routers should be at least two metres off the ground for a good signal distribution.
- They should be placed at the centre of the house for even distribution, while windows should be avoided.
- NBN Co additionally notes that the further away routers are from other electronics equipment the better, as they will be avoiding interference. This includes devices with radio signals such as microwaves and TVs.
- Routers should also be regularly updated with the latest firmware. NBN Co says that users will need to switch their device off for the updates to take effect. For this reason it is worthwhile re-booting routers on a regular basis.
Should I buy an NBN compatible modem-router?
The question of whether you need a new modem or router depends on what NBN speed tier you desire. Chances are there are better routers out there than the one you’ve been using for a few years if you’re on a top speed tier. A simple way would be to go with NBN plans that include a router, as this saves you time and effort from researching models yourself, and you’ll often get the modem that you need for your speed tier.
However, if you’re already on an NBN plan and your current router is not cutting the mustard, then NBN Co has released some specifications (read: very technical PDF) and a number of router manufacturers are also NBN registered.
There are a lot of factors outside of your control when it comes to the delivery of high-speed internet via the NBN. But by ensuring that the equipment being used is optimised for high-speed broadband, you will be doing all you can to make the most of your new NBN service. Through a mixture of optimizing your router location and set-up, as well as choosing a capable router to begin with, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying some great NBN speeds.