Do I need a new modem?

Advertisement

Modems are often seen as a simple internet-box that lets your household access the world wide web like magic – but having some understanding of the modem you use can go a long way in helping you get the best from your broadband plan.

If you’re wondering if getting a new modem would be a good idea, it helps to know just how your modem works, and the DIY ways to fix issues before you buy a brand new model. There’s plenty of reasons to get a new modem, as well as to keep the one you currently have –  so let’s dive into it.

Jump to:

In short: Do I need a new modem?

Buying a new modem might improve your speed or give you more reliable Wi-Fi, or even help you with any potential drop-outs, but is often necessary if you’re upgrading from ADSL to NBN. If you’re experiencing a problem with your internet connection, it’s worth investigating your modem, but also things like your NBN connection or NBN speed tier.

What is a modem?

A modem is a device used to transmit internet into your home. It’s the rectangular device with the flashing lights that plugs into the wall of your house, and often is plugged into a separate NBN box, typically in HFC or FTTP connections. A modem can be bought separately from an NBN plan and paid for outright, or be coupled to your monthly broadband plan payment.

A modem-router is mixed technology between a modem and a router. Before the technology was coupled into one single piece of equipment, a modem would deliver internet through to your home, while the router was what ‘routed’ internet access through to your devices and allowed you to set up a home WiFi network.

Do I really need a new modem?

If you’d like faster speeds or more reliable WiFi, or if you’re experiencing drop-outs or want more devices connected, buying a new modem can be an easy solution. Not every modem is the same, with some being faster or having the capability to host more devices. On top of this, your modem could be old and in need of a replacement.

Keep in mind that if you’re experiencing slow internet speeds there’s other things that could be causing this, such as your NBN speed tier or potential damage in your connection. Even if the modem is under-performing, there’s things you can do to fix slow speeds and dropouts.

Ultimately, if you’re disappointed in your modem’s slow speed, the best immediate solution is upgrading your NBN speed. For most Australians, there are four major speed tiers to pick from – NBN 12, 25, 50 and 100 – in order of slowest to fastest. Typically the more people you have in a home, or the more demand you’re putting on a modem, the higher speed tier you’ll need.

Ultra-fast NBN 250 and NBN 1000 speed tiers are now also available, but only to customers with FTTP or certain HFC connections. If you are eligible for a plan this fast, you’ll need to invest a high-speed modem/router to make the most of your connection – for example, Aussie Broadband currently recommends the Google Nest to its NBN 250 and 1000 customers.

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 a referral partner.

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 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 a referral partner.

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 a referral partner.

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 a referral partner.

How do I fix my modem?

If you’re experiencing drop-outs and slow speeds, there’s several things you can do to fix your modem, assuming it’s the problem:

  • Restart your modem
  • Investigate if any cables are damaged
  • Try changing your WiFi channel
  • Get a WiFi range extender

Restart your modem

It’s the most obvious solution, but restarting your modem might just be the thing that fixes your network issues. Restarting your modem lets the system rest for a little while, and gives it a quick refresh. It’s not a guaranteed fix, but it’s a good start, especially if you haven’t turned your modem off in a while.

Investigate if any cables are damaged

This is another easy fix. If your cables are poor quality (say if they’ve been split open, or if pets have bitten into them), it could be worth replacing them. For power supply replacements you’ll have to find a compatible power supply, which you might have to order from the manufacturer; but for internet cables, all you’ll need to do is go to a JB Hi-Fi, Jaycar, or any other consumer electronics store and ask for a Cat 5 or Cat 6 cable. Cat 6 cables are slightly faster than Cat 5 cables, however they’re more expensive.

Try changing your WiFi channel

If you’re experiencing slower speeds when you use your internet wirelessly, an effective fix could be to change your WiFi channel. If you don’t configure it yourself, your WiFi channel will automatically be designated by your modem. The problem with this is that some channels can be crowded with other WiFi signals being emitted by other modems and devices.

You can change your WiFi channel within your modem gateway, which you can access using login information found on your modem or in with the packaging your modem came with – see our guide on configuring your new modem to find out more.

Get a WiFi range extender

If you live in a big house, it might be worth getting a WiFi range extender. OK, it’s not a guaranteed fix, but if you’re wanting a better signal in another room, or on a different floor of your house, it might be worth buying a range extender, which you can pick up from most consumer electronics stores. Several broadband providers also stock their own WiFi extenders, such as Telstra’s Smart WiFi Booster.

What kind of modem should I get?

Ultimately it all comes down to how much you’re willing to spend on a modem, considering how intensely you’d use it. If you use your internet casually with an occasional Netflix stream, buying a super-fast gaming modem might not be right for you. Conversely, if you’re a hardcore gamer, or just take your internet use really seriously, you’ll want a modem that can go the extra mile.

Either way, the default modem your internet provider issues you with should be capable of all-purpose use and connecting several devices at a time, but if you’re after a modem with an extra kick, it might be worth shopping around. Just make sure whatever modem you get is compatible with your type of NBN connection. Most modems available in Australia will list what connection types they’re compatible with (some carry an “NBN ready” sticker on them). Keep this in mind so you get technology that you know will work.

Share this article

Advertisement