nbn™ Wi-Fi plans
People often use the term Wi-Fi as a catch-all for internet access and nbn connections, but even though they are related, they are not the same thing at all. It is because of this that you won’t find any internet service providers offering Wi-Fi nbn plans.
However, NBN Co has used a variety of technologies to bring the nbn to all parts of Australia. All of these use some cabling in your home to make connecting to the nbn possible, but two of them, Fixed Wireless and Sky Muster Satellite, also use a bit of wireless technology. There are still limits to the capability of wireless technology, so some nbn plans offered by service providers are not available for both Fixed Wireless and Sky Muster Satellite installations.
In this guide we explain Wi-Fi and Fixed Wireless in more detail.
Without getting too technical, Wi-Fi is a technology that allows different Wi-Fi capable devices to connect to your home or business nbn service wirelessly. Part of your nbn installation includes a modem, and it is the modem that creates a Wi-Fi network in your home or business. Your laptop, tablet, smartphone, and other Wi-Fi capable devices connect to this Wi-Fi network, and in doing so then have full internet access.
This is not a new concept. If you previously had an ADSL connection the modem it included would have made it possible to create a Wi-Fi network, and some mobile broadband plans also come with a wireless modem so that more devices in your home are able to make use of the internet connection is provides.
The biggest benefits of Wi-Fi are mobility and convenience. Without Wi-Fi, every time you wanted to connect to the internet you would have to plug your laptop or desktop computer directly into the modem and work in one place.
However, Wi-Fi is also not perfect. The signal strength drops the further away from the modem you move, and certain solid structures and walls can also interfere with the signal strength. Additionally, other wireless technology can also disrupt the signal at times. If you have a Smart TV or TV streaming set-top box such as Fetch TV, you should connect it to the modem via a cable to ensure a smoother streaming experience.
Understanding nbn Fixed Wireless
NBN Co used a Multi Technology Mix (MTM) system to speed up the rollout of the nbn across Australia. So, while most parts of major centres in Australia have Fixed Line connections, regional and rural areas have Fixed Wireless nbn connections. Remote parts of Australia use the Sky Muster Satellite Service to connect to the nbn.
The Fixed Wireless connection isn’t completely wireless. It uses similar technology to mobile broadband to send signals between nearby transmission towers and your home or business. However, an antenna is installed outside your home, with cabling running from the antenna into your home, connected to a nbn connection box and a modem. The modem can still be set up to create a Wi-Fi network inside your home.
Limits in the capacity of the wireless transmission between your home and the nearby towers do mean that the top-tier plans offered by nbn service providers are not available for Fixed Wireless connections. The current theoretical maximum speed for Fixed Wireless is up to 75Mpbs. The number of households and business connecting to a single transmission tower also affects the actual speed you might have.
nbn connection technology
All the connection technologies used by NBN Co during the rollout of the nbn allow you to create a Wi-Fi network in your home or business. All the technologies also include cabling from the modem and the nbn connection box for some installations, to outside your home. But different technologies then connect your home to the nearest nbn node or exchange, and these affect the nbn plans and top speeds you have access to.
|nbn technology||What it is||Top speed supported|
|Fibre to the Premises (FTTP)||Fibre optic cable connects your home directly to the nearest fibre node. A nbn connection box and power supply unit might be installed inside your home, separate to the modem or router.||All speed tiers up to a theoretical maximum speed of 1Gbps1.|
|Fibre to the Node (FTTN)||Existing phone line connects your home to the nearest fibre node, and a fibre optic cable connects the node to the exchange. No nbn connection box is used; your modem connects directly to your existing phone socket.||Theoretical maximum speed of 100Mbps.|
|Fibre to the Curb (FTTC)||Multiple homes connect to a Distribution Point Unit (DPU) using existing phone lines. The DPU is installed in the street and connects to the nearest node using fibre optic cables. Your modem will connect to an nbn connection box that will be installed inside your home.||All speed tiers up to a theoretical maximum speed of 500Mbps1.|
|Fibre to the Building (FTTB)||Used in apartment buildings and multi-unit residential buildings. Existing technology connects each apartment or unit to a fibre node in the building's basement or communications room. Fibre optic cables connect the node to the exchange.||All speed tiers up to a theoretical maximum speed of 100Mbps.|
|Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial (HFC)||This uses your existing ‘Pay TV’ or cable network connection to connect to the nearest fibre node, which connects to the exchange via fibre optic cables. A nbn connection box will also be installed in your home.||All speed tiers up to a theoretical maximum speed of 1Gbps1.|
|Fixed Wireless||In regional and some rural locations, distance makes traditional nbn installations impossible. A nbn connection box and antenna will be installed on your property, and this connects wirelessly to nbn transmission towers located up to 14 kilometres away.||All speed tiers up to a theoretical maximum speed of 75Mbps.|
|Sky Muster Satellite Service||Used to connect people living in remote areas. Your modem connects to a rooftop satellite dish that communicates with two orbiting satellites. Customers whose only option is satellite can keep their existing phone service for making and receiving phone calls.||A Fair Use Policy (FUP) applies to the satellite service, which can affect supported theoretical maximum speeds of 25Mbps.|
1This maximum theoretical speed is not currently available on the nbn.
The first five technologies explained above are Fixed Line connections, with the last two on the list having a wireless part to them.
But the NBN Co's Technology Choice Program allows residents to apply to have the actual connection technology at their address changed to the superior Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) connection technology. The application to change your connection technology needs to be made by you directly to NBN Co, and there is a cost involved that you are responsible for.
Our nbn™ rollout map allows you to check what connection technology is currently used at your location, and while our unlimited nbn™ plans all support Wi-Fi, not all of them are available with all nbn installations.