In Kariong we were originally scheduled to be connected to the NBN in November 2013. That was around the time the Liberal Government under Tony Abbot came to power and I think the NBN had been slow walking everything anyway expecting the change of government. Rudd budgeted $48 BILLION AUD (if memory serves) and I think at this point, the cost to date has been more than $90 billion and for the most part for an inferior FTTN type connection. It’s easy to blame Abbott & Turnbull for this debacle but in my opinion it goes back to the stupidity of labor and their unchecked spending which needed to be reined in.
Anyway, fast forward 5 years! So finally we get the NBN here!!!
Watching what has happened around Australia, it’s easy to be cynical about the NBN. The rollout has been a debacle to the point where the NBN company doesn’t even publish expected dates anymore and of course continues to bleed money.
So lets take a look at some commonly asked questions.
Do you need a phone line for NBN?
Yes and No! See I told you I would be helpful! It actually depends on what you are actually asking. In Kariong at least but also in most places, the NBN is delivered into your home via what you would most likely CALL a phone line but when you are switched over to the NBN, it is just a wire coming into your home and does not operate as a phone line any more.
Prior to the NBN, your phone line ran all they way from your premises via cables and pits to the Exchange. At the exchange it was split off to provide the old POTS PSTN phone service and if you had ADSL to a DSLAM which enabled your internet connection. Now in the NBN world, in Kariong we have what is called FTTN or Fiber to the Node. This means that an optical fiber network has been run around the suburb and ‘nodes’ have been established that your home will connect to now instead of running all the way to the exchange. My understanding is that the nodes should be plentiful enough such that the length of cable from your premises to the node should be less than 800m.
It is actually possible to work out approximately how far you are from the node.
The first thing you need to do is find your current Telstra DA
- go here https://nationalmap.gov.au/
- click on add data button
- select communications folder
- select broadband availability (not the one with ‘no borders’)
- zoom in to you area of Kariong click on the actual area and on the pop up you will have your current DA e.g. KRIG:10
You then need to find the pillar with that numbering on it, although if NBN™ have done any work at the pillar it now may no just be numbered P10 in the above case.. Pillars in Kariong will usually be near the corner of the DA that is closest to the exchange on the corner of Central Coast Highway and Curringa Road. (See https://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=2557178&p=20#r387)
The expected maximum speed can be anywhere from 25/12 to 100/40 and there is a good graph here that indicates what speed should be possible (or at least a speed range). Expected Speed Graph here.
Note: If you are on a RIM Cabinet, you may currently not have a pillar, but a pillar will be installed near the RIM to permit connections to a node.
Why isn’t my NBN phone line working?
Once you switch over to the NBN, instead of your line running from your home to the exchange, it gets connected to the NBN Node which is a VDSL connection. It is similar to the DSL DSLAM you used to be connected to at the exchange but it is no longer connected to the PSTN phone network.
What should happen when you connect to the NBN is that your phone number will be ported to a VoIP (Voice over IP) service. Most RSP’s (the old name Internet Service Provider pre-NBN is now called a Retail Service Provider – may as well hit all the acronyms in one hit!) will offer you a VoIP service as well as an internet service when you migrate to the NBN.
So as your phone line is migrated to a VoIP service, you will need to have a hardware device (sometimes referred to as an ATA) in order to use the VoIP service. These days, many of the modems recommended by the NBN and supplied by your RSP will include an ATA in them for your phone service. Most RSP’s will charge you a monthly fee for the VoIP service but instead of being gouged by Telstra for ~$40/month, this will only cost $5/month. You should also be able to keep your old phone number although you should be aware and check with the RSP if they are able to port in your old number or not! (VERY important if you want to keep your number. Internode as an example do not have an arrangement to port numbers to VoIP in Kariong! Beware) Note also as a parting gift from Telstra, if you port out to a new provider that they will sting you $8 for porting your number – always gouging you till the end.
The other issue with your phone line could be that if your phones are corded and are still plugged into existing wall sockets that they will not work. This is because they are still plugged into the old phone line which is no longer active when you have switched to the NBN. There is a quick and dirty fix for this issue for most people. The old telephone cable you already have actually has 2 pairs of wires in it and unless you have 2 phone lines, one of those pairs is currently unused. If you get a cabler to come out, they will wire that second pair of wires to service the phone line and will wire in a new socket that will plug directly into the ATA or into the modem so that the VoIP service can use the old phones. This is NOT optimal.
Why isn’t rewiring my sockets optimal?
I’m glad you asked!
Most internal wiring in your home will meander around your home and will be an old cable and will have many joins and piggybacks and is not at all suited to FTTN and the NBN. For the best possible speed, the connection from where the Telstra cable terminates at the point of entry to your home to your modem should be one length of cat 5 cable. The old phones can continue to use the old cable without any problem.
You might be wondering how much difference this makes? My next door neighbor signed up to the NBN with Telstra on a 2 year contract. As part of that contract, they supplied him with one of their new Smart Modems that has 4G backup. He has been getting constant messages from Telstra that his modem has switched over to 4G fall back. There is pretty much only one likely reason for that and that is that his cabling is at fault.
If I go into the admin settings of his modem, the sync speed is 38.38↓ 10.24↑. By way of comparison, my sync speed is 53.3↓ 18.8↑ which is a significant difference and barring the possibility there is some other kind of line problem indicates the problem is his internal cabling. Note also according to the graph I linked to above, given my 670m distance to the node I’m pretty much syncing at full speed. Nice.
We also changed all our phones to DECT (wireless) a few years ago but we have just a straight cat 5 cable from Telstra termination to our modem.
Prior to switching to the NBN for around 4 months we had nothing but trouble and extended outages with ADSL. We also had 3 technician visits. This was despite almost 10 years of uninterrupted service. Every time we tried to download something we would get a drop out. Streaming Netflix or Foxtel and we had a lot of buffering. Any kind of simultaneous use was an exercise in frustration. At the beginning of our problems, we ended up with a technician visit where he found no problems (that will be $130 thanks) however the very next day after his visit, there was a failure at the exchange with the board we were connected to – apparently it was overheating. 3 days down and Telstra claimed to have replaced the board but our problems continued. Another technician visit and he determined a fault in our modem (this is their favorite fault). This despite having no issues for 10 years (or yeah another $130 thanks). I then purchased another modem and surprise surprise, same problems. Third technician visit and this time he actually bothered to get out his meter and found a line fault outside. Unfortunately though the outages and dropouts continued. By this point I knew the NBN was almost RFS (ready for service) so I just grinned and bore it (and under threat of a TIO complaint had the $260 in bogus technician fees refunded). Now that we have the NBN we have had ZERO dropouts which was pretty much what I expected and I surmise that Telstra never replaced that board but used band aids and sticky tape as the NBN is coming doncha know…. So yeah. Bad taste in the mouth Telstra wise which is a shame as before this we had a pretty stable service.
Which Service Provider should I choose for the NBN
For my NBN service I had one main criteria. It was my plan to be able to separate my phone service from my internet service. For our business I already use MyNetFone and wanted eventually to port my home phone number over there as well. Added to that was the fact that Telstra insist on using their modem to connect to the NBN (which included VoIP inbuilt) but it didn’t suit me to do that as I wanted to use my own modem which included great features like answering machines as well as VoIP (a FritzBox 7590). In any case I was getting tired of Telstra and their Indian/Philippines call centers where it was a challenge to be understood or to understand.
Looking around, it seemed to me that Aussie Broadband had a great service with Australian support from Melbourne and Adelaide. Their top company execs also are part of the Whirlpool community and are in the live discord chat all the time. They actually WANT to help. I also signed up with them when they were offering first month for free and double data for 6 months. Actually between the time I pre-ordered in January and NBN became RFS in April, their offer changed 3 times becoming either cheaper or as with the final change offering unlimited data for much less than Telstra anyway. (how much data IS double unlimited?)
Aussie sent text messages every step of the way and we could not be happier with their service.
So how do I switch to the NBN?
There are potentially a couple of pitfalls. First is regarding the phone line if you want to keep your number. Make sure the RSP you select can actually port in your number. Otherwise you run the risk of losing your number. Not fun.
The easiest and least problematic procedure is as follows.
- Sign up with the RSP of your choice for both Phone and Internet.
- When your NBN and phone are active on your new RSP, signup with whoever you want for your phone and fill out their porting form. This port may take a few weeks. Note that if you use MyNetFone, they will require an invoice from your RSP that shows the phone number on it.
I would strongly advise not trying to signup for phone with one RSP and Internet with another. If you do this I think you’re asking for problems and could potentially lose your number. In our case, I got an SMS message from Aussie at around 9am saying my phone number had been successfully ported in from Telstra. My ADSL then stopped working (when there is no number anymore at Telstra attached to a service the ADSL codes die and no internet). At about 10am, NBN must have jumpered the connection over to the node and I was on the NBN. (I had already entered my connection information in the modem). Then I submitted the porting form to MyNetFone and was connected the next day. Quick and painless and very happy to be on a solid internet connection once again.