The National Broadband Network (NBN) was designed to reach every home and business in Australia, giving all Aussies fast, reliable and hassle-free broadband. Years later and despite a few hiccups, the NBN now connects almost ten million Australians across the country. For those who are not yet connected, the expansion has sped up in recent years so your day is likely to come soon. Here we get stuck into the history of the NBN, where we stand right now and how to choose the right NBN plan for your household.
History and overview of the National Broadband Network (NBN)
Starting as a pledge from the opposition Labor party in 2006, the NBN had a simple yet ambitious set of goals. The four main pillars of the NBN were to provide top-quality broadband internet access to Australians all over the country, in a timely fashion – i.e. as soon as possible – at affordable prices and at the least cost to the government. Years later and after winning the support of all major political parties, the NBN is the largest and most complex infrastructure project in Australian history.
The design and construction phase begun in 2010, with a multi-technology approach being adopted in 2013. The next milestone year was 2015, when the Fibre To The Basement (FTTB) and Fibre To The Node (FTTN) services were launched. 2016 saw the launch of the Fibre To The Kerb (FTTK) service, while FTTN broke the one million premises mark. The numbers of homes connected to the NBN continues to grow, with the network adding 2.1 million capable premises from 2018 to 2019. In total, 8.3 million Australian homes and businesses are now able to be connected to the NBN, with the number growing all the time.
The improvements to the network aren’t simply in the number of people connected, but also in the overall quality. On all available metrics, the NBN is experiencing significant improvement. Successful installation rates have improved out of sight after being a problem early on, while installation times have also improved. Congestion on fixed lines has also decreased, meaning the overall speed of your connection is improving. For Fixed Wireless users, performance is also increasing.
Where are we now?
The NBN was a massive project and it has encountered difficulties along the way. From getting appropriate funding to ensuring that all areas are looked after, there were always going to be challenges. While it did have a slow start, the project has been at full speed for a number of years now and continues to connect more and more Aussie homes.
If you’re not already connected to the NBN or if you just want to see how the process is going, our NBN Rollout Tracker lets you see the status of different addresses, i.e. whether they are NBN ready or when they can expect to be. Powered by data directly from NBN Co themselves, it’s a handy and useful tool to bookmark and check from time to time – even if you just want to keep up to date with the status of the project.
Compare NBN plans
Alright, so you’ve checked with our helpful tool and you’re ready to connect to the NBN. Which one of the many excellent NBN providers do you go for? While some providers have fully switched to the NBN, others have kept offering both ADSL and NBN coverage. This means you may not need to switch from your existing provider, although it certainly cannot hurt to see what else is out there on the market. There are a number of things to consider in choosing an NBN plan, including the speed of your connection, the data (download) limit and the other perks which can be thrown in. Then there’s bundling, which basically means the other services – from mobile and home phone to gas and electricity – which may be included as part of the deal.
We don’t like to use clichés, but at the end of the day, the right NBN plan really depends on you. We say ‘at the end of the day’, because this is the most important time to think about when thinking about an NBN plan. Like electricity usage or car travel, when more people use something it can put a strain on existing resources. Because of this, NBN is measured in ‘Evening Speed’ – which is the speed your connection will operate at during the time when everyone else is connected. This is roughly between 5pm and 10pm each night, when most Aussies have come home from work or school and are connecting to the web. This is by far the most important metric when it comes to the speed of your connection; a connection that works excellently at midday or at 3am might be perfect for shift workers, but it’s not going to feel too good when the nightly news is buffering.
NBN Broadband Plans
- Up to 20Mbps Standard Evening
- 100GB Data
- NBN 25™ Fixed Line
- Up to 9Mbps Basic Evening
- Unlimited Data
- NBN 12™ Fixed Line
- Up to 9Mbps Basic Evening
- 100GB Data
- NBN 12™ Fixed Line
NBN Speeds and Data
There are four NBN speeds, all of which are judged on ‘Evening Speed’. Basic Evening Speed (NBN12) runs with a 12MBPS. Standard Evening Speed (NBN25) will get you an average of 25MBPS. Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN50) will come at an average of 50MBPS. Finally, the supercharged NBN option is Premium Evening Speed (NBN100), securing you 100MBPS. It’s important to remember that not all providers will offer a plan in each of these categories, so be sure to check which ones they do offer. Another thing to remember is that there are of course no guarantees. There are a range of other factors which will influence the speed at which your connection runs, such as your technology, the demand in your area and also the weather. Those with a need for speed however would obviously do better to get one of the faster plans, although these will cost more.
The next thing to consider is data limit. Fortunately for Aussie internet users – and thanks largely to the NBN – the days of worrying about every megabyte as the end of the month draws close are over. Most providers now offer unlimited download plans on the NBN at affordable competitive rates. In a time when gaming and streaming is becoming more and more popular, going unlimited is a sure-fire way to reduce the stress – and the potential extra cost – of exceeding your regular limit. As with anything however, it all depends on your usage. If you and your household don’t stream or game, there are great plans for light internet users which will save you the cost of an unlimited plan. In making any NBN decision, think about your broadband needs and wants before finding the plan that suits you best.
The final point we want to make about the NBN is the existence of bundling. Bundling has grown in popularity in recent years as it represents a sort of Broadband 2.0 for Aussie internet users. If you’ve used the internet for a while, you might remember the days of ‘one-size-fits-all’ plans, which basically required you to sign up to the only plan on offer and pay for a lot of stuff you didn’t use. Fortunately, those days are over. Bundling has emerged as a way to save money on stuff you do actually use, while not requiring you to pay for stuff you don’t want. From your mobile phone costs to your electricity bill, the options are extensive in bundling.
While almost everyone will have heard to the National Broadband Network – the NBN – through the many news reports on its progress over the past few years, there’s still a lot of confusion about what it is, what it’s for, and how it’s going to affect the way you connect to the internet in the future. A project that’s been many years in the making, it’s seen delays and alterations, but is back in full swing and rolling out to homes and businesses once more.
To help guide you we’ve put together a comprehensive overview of what the NBN is, how it will change the way you access the net, and what the different ways of connecting to the NBN mean for you.
See the 2016 NBN Review for the latest details and progress.