Australia – how to connect to the NBN.


In Australia at the moment they are rolling out the NBN.  If you have a Macintosh computer it doesn’t matter which company you go with – they are all “Macintosh compatible”.  The main thing affecting the setup of your NBN  connection and the equipment you will need is whether you are fibre to the premises (FTTP) or fibre to the node (FTTN). Each one is slightly different in terms of how you connect your Macintosh computer to the NBN network. 

FTTP and FTTN –  the difference in how you connect to each system.

When you apply for NBN they will be able to tell you whether your house has FTTP or FTTN. The  main difference ( apart from speed)  is how you connect your router to the NBN.


This is the photo of the back of a router. (your NBN company may supply you with a router or you may bring your own.)

The white socket second from the right  in the picture above is the ‘DSL’ port. It looks like a phone connection.  If you have an ‘FTTN‘ connection ( Fibre to the Node) then you will have an NBN wall socket in your house,  and you need to run what looks like a telephone wire from your new NBN wall socket  into this ‘DSL’  port on your router.

The blue socket third from the right is an ethernet port.  If you have an ‘FTTP‘  connection ( Fibre to the Premises) then you will  have a little box on your wall that has its own ethernet port  and you will need to plug an ethernet cable from your NBN wall box into this blue socket.

I will explain this in a little bit more detail below.


If you have FTTP then nbc co will come and connect a little box inside your house that looks a little bit like this:

If you have an FTTP connection or a fixed wireless connection it will come to your house in a box something like this.

At the bottom of this little box is an ethernet port where you can plug in an ethernet cable.  An ethernet cable looks like this:


If you plug an ethernet cable into your NBN box, you can just plug the other end of this ethernet cable straight into the ethernet port of your Macintosh computer,  and your Apple computer will automatically find the Internet and connect to it and you will be off surfing the web straight away!  But  in real life you will need something a little bit more sophisticated than this because you want to connect more than one computer to the Internet at a time.  So you will need to buy a ‘router.’  A router lets you connect lots of computers into the one ethernet port.  I will explain a little bit more about routers below.  But basically, your NBN box connects to your router and your router connects to your computer and all you need to use to do this are two ethernet cables.


If you have an FTTN connection then you won’t have an NBN box in your house. Instead, you will have a connection that looks like an ordinary telephone connection,  like this:

If you have FTTN it will come to your house in a wall socket like this.
If you have FTTN it will come to your house in a wall socket like this.

You can’t plug your computer straight into this wall socket.  You need to plug a phone cable into this wall socket and plug the other end of the phone cable into a DSL router.  This is almost the same set up  you would have if you have an ADSL connection.  It is not exactly the same because the DSL that the NBN uses its is different to the old ADSL so you will need to get a new modem.  I would suggest you buy a new DSL router/modem from your ISP so that it comes to you with the right settings.  The router your ISP will give you will look something like this:

If you have an FTTN connection then you will need a DSL router like this.
If you have an FTTN connection then you will need a DSL router like this.




A router is a little bit like a power board but for the Internet  instead of electricity. A power board lets you plug lots of devices into the same power point. A router lets you plug lots of devices into the Internet.

A router is a little bit like a power board, but for the Internet. It lets you plug lots of devices into the one ethernet connection.
A router for the internet  is a little bit like a power board for electricity. It lets you plug lots of devices into the one ethernet connection.

If you have an FTTP connection then you  can use pretty much any router that has an ethernet port.  You could use an Apple airport base station. (An  Apple airport Base station is a router).  Or you could purchase any third party router (e.g. ASUS, TP-Link, etc).

If you have an FTTN connection  then you need to make sure that your router has an NBN compatible DSL port.

My suggestion is that if you have an FTTP connection  then you can go down to a shop like Officeworks and by pretty much any router off the shelf that has an ethernet port  and you should be able to get the router pretty cheaply.  But if you have an FTTN connection I would suggest you sign up on a plan and get the router from your ISP because these Routers take a little bit more setting up.

Most routers are also wireless so they will share your NBN connection with wireless devices like your iPhone and your iPad. .

Signing up with an ISP.

Most companies in Australia will have two options – you can sign up on a contract, where they will give you a router for free, but you need to stay with them for 12 months. The other option is that you can join up on a month by month plan with no contract –  but generally this means you will need to bring your own router.

If you have your own router, and it will work, it makes sense to bring your own router because then you can sign up for a month by month plan and if anything goes wrong you can easily change to another ISP.  If you don’t have your own router, it makes sense to sign up for a one year plan and they will generally throw in a free router.


This is the photo of the back of a router.  This router would work with an FTTN connection and an FTTP connection because it has both an ethernet port and a DSL port, but some writers only have one option or the other.

As I have already explained, white socket second from the right  is the DSL  port and it goes to an FTTN connection,  the blue socket third from the right  is the ethernet port and it is for an FTTP connection.

Let me explain the other ports on the back of the router.

The four yellow ports  are ethernet ports and they can connect to anything you want to connect to the Internet, for example a network TV, your Apple TV, another computer, a network hard drive.

The white port on the far right is a phone port,  you would only use it if you are getting a VOIP  phone connection from your ISP. If you have FTTN  then you do not have a choice, you will need to use this phone port for your telephone  because your old telephone port will be gone!  If you have FTTP,  then you may be still using your old copper phone wires for your telephone,  or you can subscribe to a new Internet phone service.  If you subscribe to a new Internet phone service then you will need to plug your telephone into this white phone port on the back of your router.

 Choosing an ISP

There are lots of ISPs around. Internode are one of the most reliable. iiNet  also have a very good reputation. Skymesh are also reasonably good quality and a bit cheaper.  I was with Skymesh for three years and they were wonderful.

Currently I am with Aussie Broadband because  I was having a few problems with Skymesh in Dubbo and Aussie Broadband were the cheapest  reliable provider I could find.

If you would like to sign up with Aussie Broadband and you mention me (Wayne Connor  then I will get a one-month credit to my Aussie broadband account. Also, if you then refer any of your friends onto Aussie broadband you will get a one month credit in your Aussie broadband account.

When you sign up with an ISP there are two things that you will need to decide:

  1. What speed do you want?  The slowest speed is 12/1.  The middle speed is 25/5.  You can also get 50/20 or 100/40. The  first number is 1st to the download speed ( e.g. watching movies)  in the second number refers to the upload speed ( for example sending an email with a large attachment  or backing up some data to the Internet).  I personally found that the  download speed for a 12/1  connection was plenty fast enough for me,  but the 1Mbps  upload speed was a bit slow,  I am finding 5Mbps  upload speed a lot more bearable.  Also,  if you get a faster speed it might be worth doing a speed test,  because you might be paying for 50/20  but in the area you are in your speed test might show that you are only getting 12/1  in which case you may as well downgrade to a cheaper plan!  this is a great speed test site here.
  2. How much data will you use?  I would say 50 GB of data for a family is the minimum.  We are on a 50 GB plan,  we don’t watch many movies,  and we almost use our 50 GB each month.  If you watch lots of movies for example iview or Netflix, or play lots of networked games,  then you may need to get 100 GB plan or more.  You can easily monitor your usage over the first few months and adjust to the plan that you want.  Most ISPs allow you to change plans easily and without a fee.

With Aussie broadband we are on 50  per month, our speed is 25/5  and that costs $40 per month.

If you want to do more research into ISPs and NBN speeds I would suggest you check out the Whirlpool forums. They are fantastic.










9 responses to “Australia – how to connect to the NBN.”

  1. Phil

    I am hooked up to FFTN. And disgusted to learn i must leave my WIFI on or loose my phone. But how do I connect my extension phone in another location that has lost its phone socket?j

    1. You can get a VoIP box that allows you to have 2 phones connected and you can still wire the 2nd phone in if you want.

  2. Cate

    Hi Wayne, am setting up an nbn fttn connection for a ‘mature’ friend in Tassie, and now I’m here, am wondering best way to deal with connection of modem to computer when wall plug is a room away from computer!
    Have signed him up on Aussie Broadband, after much research, and have opted for their better Netcomm NF17ACV modem. His primary concern is reliable VoIP, and that can stay located where the wall plug is, however, I’m reluctant to run extension ethernet cable from there to where computer/s are located.
    Any suggestions please?!
    Cate :-)

    1. Ethernet can run a long way with no problems. Especially if you use cat 6 cable.

    2. It’s either wifi or run a cable.

      1. Cate

        Thanks Wayne, looks like he’s opting for the most expensive solution; having a Telecommunications Tech’ re-locate his plug/point of entry.
        Personally, I would’ve just run the extension ethernet cable, but can understand; room/s concerned are not condusive to doing so discreetly!

      2. Really you want the point of entry as close to the front of the house as possible, to get the shortest run and therefore the best speed to your NBN modem. Then run ethernet or wifi from there.

  3. Bec

    Hi I was wondering with a FTTP service and using a Apple Airport Extreme as the router – has can VOIP be implemented? Is additional hardware required. I was looking at SkyMesh. And can your landline phone number be kept?

    1. Yes you will need a VOIP adaptor.

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