Often I am asked to make a recommendation for NBN Providers, Products or Services.

And often I find that I am copying and pasting the same information, or rewriting it several times a week.
So instead of rewriting this another thousand times, I am collating and arranging all my data here in one easy to understand reference page.

Sample media

Below I will be discussing providers, services and products, and giving opinions and recommendations. Before I start I need to state; these are based on my opinions and experience. Some peoples experiences differ, and in no way do I devalue those experiences.
However I am basing these recommendations on hundreds of hours working with clients, businesses and working directly with the companies in commercial environments, as well as my own understanding of the industry, which I have been working within for years, when I state these reccomendations, I am doing so in the hopes that I can help you avoid many of the dramas I've seen affect people who have gone through this process.

Terminology

So before we start, we should get some basic terminology explained, so you aren't buried under unneccessary technical details.
Below is a table of terms we will use, and a basic explanation of how they fit into this process.


Term

Explanation


FTTN

Fibre to the Node, the most common type of NBN. relies on phone lines that should already be there. Requires a modem that uses VDSL2.


FTTC

A rethink of FTTN, many areas are now being opted into this technology, still uses phone lines, but only from the pit outside your house to you, with very fast speeds, almost as good as FTTP/FTTH.
NBN Supplies a special box to connect to this, and you can use any wireless router or modem with it, does not need any specific 'modem'.


FTTH/FTTP

True 'Fibre Optic' internet, a fibre line is run directly into your home, and a fixed box is installed on a wall to connect to the internet. Speeds theoretically are not limited by the line, but rather by the box that the line connects to.
Does not require a special modem, and any router can be used to provide internet to devices.


Fixed Wireless

Internet delivered through a specialty WiFi Access Point and Antenna.
This technology was what was supposed to be rolled out to small towns, but has been used to patch gaps where it has become too expensive to run fibre, or the copper lines are too damaged.
There are serious issues with Fixed Wireless, as it can be interfered with easily by weather, construction and even trees. If you're getting this you want the highest possible antenna.
Again doesn't need a specialty modem, any router will work.


Opticomm

A Pre-NBN fibre network. Laid out the same as FTTH/FTTP, but run by a private company. Many Estates from the late 2000s/Early 2010s use this technology. Has an extremely limited number of providers you can use.


Satellite

As it says, this is Broadband provided by Satellite, all equipment for the satellite itself is paid for by NBNco, but you will be asked to provide a modem or buy one from your provider. A box will be installed inside your home for the satellite to attach to. Any modem or router can be used.
Note that Satellite has government enforced data limits of about 128gb per month, and if you go over your connection is shut off (it's terrible I know! I don't recommend this to anyone unless necessary)


Modem

A box that can attach a phone/cable line and decode internet signals. Modems come in a few types:
ADSL/ADSL2 - only works with traditional broadband
Cable - Worked with Foxtel's old PayTV Network
ADSL/VDSL (2) - New NBN Standard Modems, can connect to both old and new types of Broadband.


Router

A box that connects your internal computers and devices together to make a network, most modems have a router built in, but not all routers have a modem built in. Routers tend also to be cheaper and more easy to modify, as they don't need the modem hardware.
Most NBN types other than FTTN can just have a router, as the boxes NBNco provide replace the modem function.


ADSL/ADSL2
'Broadband'

The old broadband technology, it worked by feeding data down the part of the phone line that is inaudible to human ears. It was claimed ADSL2 had a top speed of 25Mpbs, but more often than not, most people never saw more than 3 or 8 unless they lived near the exchange.
Relied on a copper network owned by Telstra, who often used it to exploit users with ridiculous fees and charges, sold in pieces to NBNco for FTTN Broadband


VDSL/VDSL2

The technology that FTTN NBN uses. It is like the old ADSL line but instead of just using the parts of the phone line you couldn't hear, it uses the whole phone line.


You don't need to remember these things, but in case you need to know what a term means, this table is here to reference.

Getting Started

Getting onto the NBN is actually a generally simple process, but can seem daunting at first.
The discussion of speed tiers and plan addons make things very confusing.
You will need to assess some simple things about your needs, and what may suit you.

You will need to know:
1. How many people are using your internet?
2. What will you be using the internet for?
3. Do you want a landline phone? (You don't need one to have NBN)
4. Do you want a contract? (again, not required)

We have also provided a general explanation about what you would have had under ADSL, to help you assess what you may have had in the past, and compare it to what is offered now

Internet Speed Chart

This chart will help you understand what speed you will need for the NBN.
Thumbs Up means Good, Thumbs Down Means Bad, Struck through means that it is not provided, recommended or suitable

ADSL

Up To 
25
mbps
  • thumb_up
    Suitable for Web Browsing
  • thumb_up
    Email, Chat, Internet Phone
  • thumb_down
    Video Calling (Slow)
  • thumb_up
    Small Households (2 People)
  • thumb_down
    Large Households (3+ People)
  • thumb_down
    Light Gaming
  • thumb_down
    Heavy Gaming
  • thumb_up
    Government Limits on Data
  • thumb_down
    Telstra Owned Line and Line Fees
  •  

Satellite

12
mbps
  • thumb_up
    Suitable for Web Browsing
  • thumb_up
    Email, Chat, Internet Phone
  • error
    Video Calling
    (Will work but not well)
  • thumb_up
    Small Households (2 People)
  • thumb_down
    Large Households (3+ People)
  • thumb_up
    Light Gaming
  • thumb_down
    Heavy Gaming
  • thumb_down
    Government Limits on Data
  • thumb_up
    Telstra Owned Line and Line Fees
  •  

Basic

12
mbps
  • thumb_up
    Suitable for Web Browsing
  • thumb_up
    Email, Chat, Internet Phone
  • error
    Video Calling (ok, but not great)
  • thumb_up
    Small Households (2 People)
  • thumb_down
    Large Households (3+ People)
  • thumb_up
    Light Gaming
  • thumb_down
    Heavy Gaming
  • thumb_up
    Government Limits on Data
  • thumb_up
    Telstra Owned Line and Line Fees
  •  

Low Use

25
mbps
  • thumb_up
    Suitable for Web Browsing
  • thumb_up
    Email, Chat, Internet Phone
  • thumb_up
    Video Calling
  • thumb_up
    Small Households (2 People)
  • thumb_down
    Large Households (3+ People)
  • thumb_up
    Light Gaming
  • thumb_down
    Heavy Gaming
  • thumb_up
    Government Limits on Data
  • thumb_up
    Telstra Owned Line and Line Fees
  •  
We Reccommend

General Use

50
mBPS
  • thumb_up
    Suitable for Web Browsing
  • thumb_up
    Email, Chat, Internet Phone
  • thumb_up
    Video Calling
  • thumb_upSmall Households (2 People)
  • thumb_up
    Large Households (3+ People)
  • thumb_up
    Light Gaming
  • thumb_up
    Heavy Gaming
  • thumb_up
    Government Limits on Data
  • thumb_up
    Telstra Owned Line and Line Fees
  •  

Heavy Users

100
mbps
  • thumb_up
    Suitable for Web Browsing
  • thumb_up
    Email, Chat, Internet Phone
  • thumb_up
    Video Calling
  • thumb_upSmall Households (2 People)
  • thumb_up
    Large Households (3+ People)
  • thumb_up
    Light Gaming
  • thumb_up
    Heavy Gaming
  • thumb_up
    Government Limits on Data
  • thumb_up
    Telstra Owned Line and Line Fees
  • warning
    WARNING:
    Most FTTN and Fixed Wireless Users will not be able to get this speed

To put it even more simply, the below decision chart will run through the basic questions you should think about when going to the NBN. I personally recommend 50Mbps for most users, or 25Mbps for people who are worried about budget.

Making an NBN Choice

The Ordering Process

Sample title

When you are ready to start ordering the NBN you will need to go through a few steps to check your eligibility, making sure your street is hooked up to a node and setting the speeds you want to get.

Step 1: Check that you can get NBN

The first thing we recommend, before even choosing a provider is to check on the NBNco Website that your house is ready to be hooked up.

Simply enter your address, and if the site says you're ready to be connected, you can keep on with the ordering process!

Step 2: Choose a Provider

This is important, but not as important as it used to be, as long as you're not in a contract, switching providers once connected is a painless task. Still however you should be aware of different providers and tactics used.
Below we will provide a comprehensive list of good and bad providers, and outline why we think you should or shouldn't use them.
When searching for a good provider however, remember that they will use sales tactics on you to try and sell their product. Unfortunately, a lot of providers out there have been caught making false claims, selling low end plans at high prices and using other dodgy tactics.

Lies, Deception and Guilt: Things to beware of when choosing a provider!

You were in a contract with us: so you need to stay with us now

This is the most common tactic I see used, Telstra doesn't even try to sell you on choosing them, they send a modem out to you and just expect you to go on as normal with a new plan they preselected for you without your input.
You DO NOT have to stay with your previous provider, you can move to any provider without penalty, and the service will be as good, if not better than before.
If your provider just sends a modem and expects you to change over, question them, check the speed they chose for you (if you choose to stay) and make sure that you're not being forced into a contract you didn't want.

We own the lines, we run the network

Another Telstra Tactic; Telstra does not own any part of the NBN. They sold their stake in phone lines to NBNco when the NBN was being set up. Once you transition to the NBN, you no longer have any obligation to Telstra, and pay no fees.
This does get confused as NBNco often will Subcontract work to Telstra Technicians, but they own no part of the network, and being with one provider over another will not result in better service because of the lines. (CVC does impact but I'll explain that further down)

We'll give you a **Free Modem**

One of the most frustrating tactics, and widely employed by every Internet Provider.

However, there is a catch to these free modems: ISPs will often use them to spy on what you're doing.
This is a big problem with some companies, which employ a tactic that lets them sign you to a contract, then terminate it if they think you're using your internet for business purposes. We know of several and will flag them in our provider choice section.

These modems are also junk, they often are made from cheap parts, are not fit for purpose and will slow your network down, they are crippled in their software so that you can't change settings and they are usually either self-branded or branded with a cheap third party brand such as Technicolor, Netcomm, FritzBox and ZTE.

Providers sometimes will 'rent' you the modem for $0 and then expect it back when you move service or change modems, charging you a $200 fee if you don't return it! They often won't tell you that they're doing this, and will stick it on your last bill.
I recommend in almost all cases to NOT take the providers modem, and to purchase one yourself. (we'll discuss this later too)

There is one exception to this: Telstra Customers who take a Telstra phone line will often be forced to use a Telstra Modem, as they don't give out configuration details for your phone numbers to use them on other modems or devices.

The Plan Is Unlimited!!

This isn't always a bad thing, but you need to be VERY VERY CAREFUL.
A lot of providers who provide unlimited plans cut costs somewhere in the service. Some of the more common tactics I've seen are CVC Stuffing (where they put more people on a service connection than the connection can provide speed to) and Speed Throttling (where they sell you a plan at 12Mbps, but don't advertise it, or offer an 'upgraded speed' for a period of time that drops to 12 afterwards) both of these tactics are red flags for a provider and not always obvious at first. Read your contract carefully, and do research on who else has the provider locally.

Plan Change Fees

Many Providers will charge you a fee to change to a different plan.
Very dodgy providers will only charge you this fee to move to a lower plan.
Often this is alongside a contract but can also happen to uncontracted customers.
Usually the provider is not charge a fee to change their customers plan, and this is purely profiteering.

We'll Bundle in X (and/or you get free EMAIL)

Bundling is an absolute pain, providers will usually sell you two services at once, (netting the sales person a tidy commission) and claim you are saving money. Often you'll find that you're actually paying more, as the services are sub-par or have had their price inflated, and you'd be no better off without the bundle.
The only time we recommend Bundling is with mobile only services, when a Data Pool is available, as it allows the devices all to share a large amount of mobile data. Never bundle your home internet into a service.
Also providers will offer you an email address; DO NOT TAKE IT! this is a tactic to force you to stay with them. If or when you leave the provider, you won't be able to take the email with you. You should always use a free provider like Gmail or Yahoo, or self host your emails with your website (if you own one)

Step 3: Choose Your Plan

This is the simple part, taking in what is written about providers in Step 2, look at what your chosen provider has offered. Look at our speed recommendations, and pick a speed that suits you; Never pick a plan without knowing its speed!
Check the contract and the Acceptable Use Policy of your provider, and place your order.

Step 4: Wait for installation, buy your modem

You'll now need to wait for an NBN technician to attend your home. You'll be a a given a 'window' of several hours on the day of your installation where you will need to be present in your home, so the technician can check your line.
Prior to this occurring you should go out and purchase a modem/router (if you didn't order one) we will discuss later down below good models to purchase and what might fit your needs.
If you are on FTTC you'll also be sent a NTD or Network Termination Device. This will allow your node in the pit outside your home to connect to the internet. Do not connect this until your Internet provider instructs you to do so.

Step 5: Technician Attends, Internet Installed!

During the window that you were provided by NBN, a technician will attend and install your NBN. They will usually install a plug on your phone line, and head to the local node to find your line and connect it up to a service. They will then return and ensure the service is connected, and at this step; they are meant to be able to tell if your line is capable of the speeds that you have ordered.
FTTC customers may not have a technician attend as the work may have already been done ahead of time when the pits were upgraded for FTTC, your provider will instruct you to connect to your NTD box, and the box will automate the change over of your line.
From here your Internet is up and running.

(Optional) Step 6: Speed Tests

Once your Internet is installed, you should run a speed test before connecting any other devices. Many providers will provide an in-house speed test and often those results are kept by their in-house technician teams to use for troubleshooting if something is not right. (Aussie Broadband has this at https://speed.aussiebroadband.com.au )
You should also check your modem and what speeds it is achieving via its web configuration page (see it's manual) this is usually listed on an advanced status page under the heading DSL connection.
Your provider is obligated to ensure the speed it is advertising is actually met by your home. If you're paying for a 50Mbps service and only receiving a speed under 25Mbps, they are required to assist you to downgrade your plan free of charge or repair your service.


Choosing a provider

One of the hardest decisions you make during the NBN changeover process is picking a provider.
Many providers set out to deliberately deceive you, and many others are just simply incompetent and do not provide an adequate service. This is further complicated by people who actively try to pass on word-of-mouth recommendations for these services, without any knowledge of the background of the provider or their own contracts.

This is unusually prevalent for customers of a company called Belong, wholly owned by Telstra. The contract is very restrictive, their service is poor, and they actively monitor their users. I actually suspect that Belong may have an incentive program to encourage users to sign people up, which on its own is not a negative thing, but is very deceptive when they do not openly admit it.

When choosing a provider the things you should be considering are what their CVC distribution looks like, how good their technical support is, the tools they provide their customers, and how honest they are. Things like speed and plans should be second considerations when it comes to choosing an NBN provider, as most of the services tend to have a level playing field outside of CVC.

What Is CVC?

CVC is a virtual measurement used by NBNco to determine how much Internet is available to customers.
Think of the CVC like a pipe, and Internet connectivity like water flowing through that pipe.
Customers are connected to the end of this pipe, and the more customers that get connected then the lower the amount of water is able to flow through at the right speed.
Each Internet provider is required to purchase its own CVC, some providers purchase very little and share it out among its users, never increasing it despite more people being added, and this is where Internet slowdowns will usually occur. There are 121 points in the country where this CVC is distributed and a 'pipe' has to be purchased at each one, which complicates things further as this increases the cost to a provider to service all areas.

Provider Recommendations and Criticisms

These recommendations are provided based on my experiences and those of my customers; I have written these reports to help you make an informed decision as to who to choose. (this list is a work in progress)
I assessed providers based on these categories.

Aussie Broadband

Aussie Broadband

TOP RECOMMENDATION

Aussie look after their customers, they actively publish their speed charts, and proactively will increase CVC to meet customer demand, They also will stop selling services if there is not enough speed to go around.

Exetel

Exetel

TOP RECOMMENDATION

Exetel have been in the market for years, and their service is top quality, especially in Rural Victoria. The only downside is they're pretty persistent on Contracts and will charge fees to change plans. Has been reprimanded for dumping heavy users from their services in the past.

Exetel

Belong

DECEPTIVE TACTICS, AVOID

Belong have been around for a few years now, with a retail presence in JB-Hifi and extensive online marketing. However, its become clear that Belong is just a Telstra subsidiary, and that their services are just Telstra-Lite. They are deceptive in their contracts and have concerning language around monitoring customer usage. I'd avoid them at all costs.

Exetel

Dodo

CVC UNDERSOLD, LIMITED

Dodo are a company as old as the internet, having been around for years. In ADSL times they were well known for overselling their services, and sadly that hasn't stopped, CVC will become a problem and you will see slowdowns at certain times. They also have a rule that says they can terminate your contract if they suspect you're using it for business purposes. They also monitor customer use through their provided modems.

Getting Help When Something Goes Wrong

Wiring

Check your wiring

Your first point of call should be to check how your internet is hooked up

One of the most common issues I've seen is line filters. Modems provided by your provider can include these, and while on ADSL they were neccessary, when you use them on the NBN, they can cripple your internet connection. Remove line filters from your modem (and any other location in the home) and test again.

If that doesn't help, check for other phone sockets for that line in your home. if you have them, ensure no other devices are connected (they won't be working, as the NBN removes the ability for the phone line to carry anything but Internet) and that nothing else is attached to the sockets. if there is anything connected, remove them and test again

Check the lights on your Modem

The next step is to check your modem lights, you often will have several lit up or flashing.
There are only really two that matter though, as they show you your connection status are the ones below.

Light Title / Icon

Meaning

LINK
ADSL
WAN
DSL
xDSL
@

device_hub
settings_input_hdmi
link
exit_to_app

DSL Signal Detected

Your line can support an internet connection

This light needs to be lit and solid (Not Flashing)

If this light is not lit at all, it means your internet line is not working, if it is flashing and doesn't turn solid after a few minutes, it means there may be an error on the line.

If there is an issue here, there is a problem with your phone line or NBNco Owned assets. Your ISP will need to raise a case to NBNco.

Internet
Connection
Online

Your Modem Can Log On to your Service providers Network

Your Log In Details are correct, and you are online

This light needs to be lit and solid (Not Flashing)

If the DSL Light is lit, and this light does not stay on or solid, there is an issue with your login or configuration on the modem, this can also indicate an issue at your internet providers end.

More to come

Contact Your ISP

More to come!