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NBN – What do I NEED?


We discussed in a previous post what the NBN (National Broadband Network) provided as part of an installation. – the answer being ‘Very Little’ … Now let’s look at what you actually NEED to make the most of the NBN.Firstly a little about your relationship with the NBN – You don’t HAVE one! All of your enquiries will need to be directed to your Retail Service Provider (or RSP) – they will be your direct contact & provider of NBN services. There are about 120 RSPs currently offering NBN services – not all will be in your area – and whilst the are all on-selling the same product, they will all offer a different ‘spin’ on what you need & what they offer

Firstly your Telephone

– If you’re sticking with your fixed-line service & your phone has a compatible plug you simply plug into the first UNI-V port & you should be up & running – nothing more required!

Internet Data

Here is where things start to get ‘interesting’ – it is largely dependent on your RSP as to what type of equipment you need to connect to the UNI-D ports Strictly speaking you can connect directly to the enabled UNI-D port and have immediate Internet access – REMEMBER each UNI-D port is a separate connection and your RSP will have enabled just one for usage

Of course, you will probably want to connect more than one device and this is where it can get complicated! If you previously had an ADSL 2 connection with wireless then you should be able to use that for simple connections. – If you previously had a poor connection you should notice an increase in speed – if you had a good connection – you may not notice a speed change at all! WHY? What Happened to the promised NBN Speed? If you are relying on Wireless, you are likely be disappointed for many reasons. Firstly, Wireless Speeds advertised by manufacturers are Theoretical Maximums under ideal conditions Here is a more realistic table of REAL-LIFE performance

WiFi Standard Theoretical SpeedReal-Life Speed
802.11b11 Mbps2-3 Mbps
802.11g54 Mbps20 Mbps
802.11n600 Mbps40-50 Mbps
802.11ac1300+ Mbps70 -100 Mbps

Why the huge disparity in theoretical & actual WiFi speeds?

Slow Internet Speeds

Well of course the advertiser’s test are performed under ideal laboratory conditions that you can never hope to replicate! In Real Life you have to contend with

  • Distance from the access point, as well as any obstructions like walls or materials likely to reflect & disperse the signal
  • Interference from other networks & devices operating on similar or conflicting frequencies
  • Shared Bandwidth – even if you are able to achieve anything like your theoretical maximum, that bandwidth is shared between all devices connected to the same access point

So … unless you have the latest in WiFi gear or are prepared to upgrade, there’s no point subscribing to anything higher than the Tier 4 50 Mbps d/l & 20 Mbps u/l because you are never going to experience that sort of speed. I also can’t put enough emphasis on the Distance & Obstruction problem – a lot of houses in the Ballarat area are Old & SOLID – there is absolutely no way that a wireless network will adequately service the house from one end to the other – unless you spend money on repeaters, boosters even Ethernet over power adapters … some of these may help (a little)

How do I get my promised NBN speed

Until there are huge advances in wireless technology, the only way to distribute your bandwidth is good old-fashioned Ethernet cable & a Router or Switch. Cat6 if you can afford it (and would like a little future-proofing) or Cat5 to each area of the house & save your WiFi for Phone & Tablet use

Common Ethernet Cable Types

There are 3 common Ethernet Cable Categories (or Cat) 5, 5e & 6. You will be hard-pressed to buy Cat 5 anymore as it’s no longer a recognised standard – technically it can support gigabit speeds, but doesn’t very well. Cat 5e (or enhanced) has been enhanced to reduce interference and thereby support higher speeds, but Gigabit Ethernet is pushing its limits. Cat 6 is certified for Gigabit & upwards speeds so will have no trouble distributing the highest tier of NBN speeds to all areas of your house (or office) 

NBN Shopping List

To get the most out of your NBN connection you will need:

  • A WiFi Router – preferably 802.11n or above
  • Cat 6 cable run from the router to each device or area requiring internet
    C-Tick Compliance
    – Be careful to purchase from a reputable supplier
    Regulatory Compliance Mark
    – if it doesn’t have C-Tick marking – or after 1 March 2016 Regulatory Compliance Mark (RCM)Chances are it may be counterfeit, mis-labelled or sub-standard … eBay may not be the best choice!
  • If you have over 4 devices you want to connect via Ethernet then you will need to purchase a Network Switch (Make sure it’s a Gigabit one)

Can I do it all myself?

Strictly Speaking – No!

All customer cabling work in the telecommunications, fire, security and data industries must be performed by a Registered Cabler.

NBN Cabinet with Equipment Instlalled

If you are able to use pre-made cat 6 cables to run to your various areas, you probably have a low chance of prosecution.

However, if crawling through dirty confined spaces is not your thing and you expect reliability in your data & telecommunications systems – look for a professional. It’s quite easy to damage parts of the NBN infrastructure & costly for repair and a professionally designed & installed network can look very efficient, be easy to use  & certainly won’t hurt the value of your home!