What To Do Before Choosing An NBN Plan

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NBN connections are becoming available in more and more places as the network rolls out, but it's not worth rushing into the switch even if you've been waiting for years. Switching over to the NBN can be complicated, so here's what you need to make sure you do before you take the leap.

Many of these steps will involve contacting the same companies, so it's best to make a list of who you need to get in touch with, and what questions you need to ask them.

This list assumes you've already picked your new NBN plan - if you need help with this step, check out our guide to NBN 100 plans, the best unlimited plans or some of the cheapest.


Check For Nasty Fees

When changing a connection over, you may have to pay fees to your telco both for terminating your existing broadband service and for connecting a new NBN service, so make sure you check beforehand to see how you can minimise them.

First get in touch with your current provider and ask what fees will be applied if you switch services. Fees may not be applicable if your current contract is already expired, or if you switch to an NBN plan with the same telco.

With connection fees, you can do the same thing. Ask what fees will be charged and if there are ways to waive them, for instance choosing certain plans or contract lengths.

The ACCC's guide on switching to the NBN recommends asking these questions:

  • Will you charge me an early termination fee when I move to a service on the NBN?
  • If there is an early termination fee:
    1. How much is it?
      How can I avoid paying it?
  • Will you charge me an activation or set-up fee for the new NBN service?
  • If there is an activation or set-up fee:
    1. How much is it?
      How can I avoid paying it?

Check Your Modem/Router

You need a modem and a router (often combined in the same device) to connect to the internet, but not all of these are compatible with the NBN. You can ask your telco whether your current modem is compatible with the NBN, but the ACCC also recommends double checking with the device manufacturer if they say it's incompatible.

Some NBN plans will include modems as part of the price, so check if this is the case for yours. They may charge a fee to have someone install your modem, so check if you can install it yourself, or if the installation can be included as part of the contracted price.

Here are ACCC's questions to ask:

  • Will my current router work on the NBN?
  • Do I need to get another router when I get NBN services?
  • If I do need to get another router:
    1. How much is it?
      How can I avoid paying it?
  • How can I install my own router?
  • How much does it cost for a technician to install an NBN compatible router in my home?

Do You Need A Backup Battery? (FTTP only)

If you're lucky enough to have access to an FTTP connection, you'll be given the option of installing a backup battery with your installation. This battery will let you continue to make calls if the power goes out, running for at least 5 hours.

If you have devices plugged directly into the NBN connection box via ethernet you'll be able to access the internet during outages too, or if you have an external power source for your modem.

The battery can be a pain according to some users, however, and if you have a mobile phone it's not really too necessary. Keep in mind you'll have to upkeep the battery and replace it when it degrades.

Some FTTP providers no longer offer this as an option.


Check What Else Relies On Your Connection

Some specialised equipment requiring a connection may not be compatible with the NBN, so it's important to check this before you change over - especially in the case of important medical devices and the like. Businesses installing the NBN will be more likely to have these problems.

Equipment that may be affected include security alarms, medical alarms, lift phones, fire indicator panels, Eftpos/credit card machines, ATMs and more.

If you have something like this in your home or business, it's best to check directly with the manufacturer on its compatibility. Here are the questions the ACCC recommends asking:

  • Has my equipment been tested on the NBN?
  • Will the service still work on the NBN?
  • If it is not tested, when will it be tested? What should I do until it is tested?
  • Which NBN service is best suited to this particular equipment?

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