Getting Started With the NBN
Whether you agree with the NBN or not it seems it’s coming to your neighbourhood anyway, so there’s no harm in learning what you need to know when it comes to getting it in your own home. If you’re a bit sketchy on the details of this huge undertaking and what it will mean for you then we’ll do our best to bring you up to speed.
When the NBN was first proposed by the Rudd government back in 2009 the plan was to bring fixed-fibre broadband to 90% of Australian homes, with high-speed wireless being made available to the remaining 10%. That figure was eventually revised to deliver fibre to 93% of Australian homes and high-speed wireless to 7%.
Fibre broadband is basically a much faster and more efficient method for transferring data. It has the ability to send and receive information over much greater distances than traditional copper wiring at nearly the speed of light.
Some Aussies already have fixed cable broadband connections via Optus or Telstra, but areas in which this is supported are few and far between and the cost tends to be more toward the pricy end of the spectrum. Current forms of cable differ from the NBN in that they provide fibre-optic cable to a node, after which copper coaxial wiring is employed to continue transmition from the node to the premises. One of the hopes of the NBN is to essentially democratise the internet in Australia, delivering high-speed broadband to the overwhelming majority of Australian homes, business and schools regardless of their location. The planned speeds are currently estimated at 100Mbps (100 megabits per second), with a theoretical future maximum of 1Gbps (1 Gigabit per second).
To put that in perspective most ADSL2+ users in metro areas see between 10Mbps and 18Mbps, with rural Aussies seeing speeds as low as only a handful of megabits per second on fixed-line connections. This can mean that websites take a long time to load and sites like YouTube are nearly unusable.
The 7% of the Australian population that will be supported by the NBN’s wireless network will also benefit. These are areas so remote that they often don’t even receive a proper connection. If they do it is usually down in the 0.5-2 Mbps range. The new wireless network will offer speeds of up to 12Mbps, finally bringing some of our remotest areas up to speed in terms of broadband connections. This isn’t important for only personal use, but rural businesses and schools as well, as a lot of business and educational services can be done over the net these days.
How do I Prepare my Home?
It’s easy; just sit there. Contrary to what many people think there will be little to no responsibility on the behalf of a house’s residents to connect to the NBN. The NBN is rolling out very slowly, but if you’re lucky enough to be on the list of the 93% of planned fibre homes within the near future then don’t fret. You will be provided with a fibre connection and a modems are readily available on NBN plans through network carriers.
A box will be installed to the outer wall of your house. This box is called the Premesis Connection Device (PCD) and will be the point at which your fibre-to-the-home connection reaches your house. The PCD will connect to the NBN inside your house via a box called the Network Termination Device (NTD).
If you wish it will even be possible to run services from multiple providers simultaneously. For instance, an internet connection from one ISP and a Video on Demand service from another can be run through your NTD without you needing to switch anything around yourself or acquire a second fibre-optic cable connection. Up to 4 services can be run in this manner with the standard NTD.
The system also features a battery backup unit in case of power outages. Stored battery power is automatically activated and deactivates when 50% of charge levels are reached. Following this automatic deactivation manual control is required so that you can conserve the few hours available for as long as possible.
You will not, repeat not, be required to cable your own home. Your home network can be used in exactly the same manner that it always has. If you use WiFi inside then you can continue using that. If you use ethernet cables then you can continue using those. Some people may choose to have their houses professionally cabled, this is entirely optional. Despite popular rumour, ethernet cables will be more than adequate to provide NBN speeds throughout a single house. There are only minor speed benefits to having fibre-optic cabling stored throughout a premises, but they are so small that a normal user would likely never notice.
We would like to warn customers against cabling their own homes as a DIY job. It’s a much better idea to hire a professional. It’s surprisingly easy to use the wrong cables, wire cables so that they function inefficiently and even damage wires or create dangerous wiring solutions when cabling yourself, no matter how competent you may think that you are.
Eventually all copper wiring will be phased out of the Australian telecommunications network, at which point your phone landline will need to be switched over to using the NBN. This, once again, should hopefully be no hassle but details are still a bit sketchy. It’s not a priority for providers right now, but eventually systems will be in place to assist customers in making the switch. Basically your phone will just plug in to your NBN connection, rather than its old copper-fed wall plug.
We hope this has been helpful in answering any concerns you had regarding the basics of the NBN, what it does and what will be expected of you.