How to Switch to the NBN
Firstly: everyone will eventually have to switch to the NBN, which is replacing the existing copper telephone network with a faster service. It will be used for both internet access and (if you wish) landline calls. The NBN is rolling out between now and 2020.
To find out if it's available at your home yet, pop your address into an NBN tracker. The "Ready for Service" date will show when the NBN is expected in your area. You'll also see the "disconnection date", which is the current phone network will be switched off.
The NBN uses a variety of different technologies, including newly-laid fibre, existing pay TV cables, and special fixed wireless services and satellite for regional areas. However, you won't have any choice about which technology you're connected to, as that's chosen on a region-by-region basis. The tracker will show you the option that's being deployed in your area.
If the NBN is already available, you can move your internet and phone services to it (and keep your landline number if you find that useful). You don't sign up with NBN itself directly; instead, you purchase an NBN service from an NBN retail partner. That includes well-known service providers like Telstra, Optus, TPG and Vodafone, as well as smaller operators.
Your existing internet service provider may well send you a letter offering to migrate you from your current ADSL connection to a new NBN plan. While this may seem an easy solution, it's worth shopping around first to make sure you're getting the best deal for you. Comparison sites like finder make it easy to compare different plans.
Aspects you should consider when comparing plans include:
- Speed: Most NBN plans offer a choice of four speeds: 12, 25, 50 and 100. A 12 plan will be cheap, but may not be noticeably faster than your existing connection, especially if you have ADSL2. The higher the speed, the more you'll pay. Most providers will let you switch up to a higher speed tier if you need to. (Satellite and fixed wireless plans don't offer the same range of speed choices.)
- Monthly Cost: The cheapest NBN plans sell for around $30, but have fairly minimal data offerings. Plans with unlimited data (useful if you're hooked on streaming services like Netflix and iview) typically costs from $60 and up. Other extras that can increase the price include voice call services and entertainment bundles for pay TV and streaming.
- Contract Length: Most providers offer 24-month plans, and these will often come with reduced fees for installation and equipment. If you'd prefer the flexibility of being able to easily switch providers, consider a month-to-month contract instead.
After you've selected a plan and signed up, your chosen provider will typically send you a new router/modem which will connect you to the NBN, and inform you of an installation date. This could be as soon as 48 hours if there's already an NBN connection point in place at your home, but more typically you'll have to wait a few weeks. Your existing service should continue working during this time however. Once the service is active, you'll be ready to enjoy faster speeds.
Angus Kidman is the editor-in-chief for comparison site finder.com.au.
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