In Australia at the moment they are rolling out the NBN. If you have a Macintosh computer it doesn’t matter which company you go with – they are all “Macintosh compatible”. The main thing affecting the setup of your NBN connection and the equipment you will need is whether you are fibre to the premises (FTTP) or fibre to the node (FTTN). Each one is slightly different in terms of how you connect your Macintosh computer to the NBN network.
FTTP and FTTN – the difference in how you connect to each system.
When you apply for NBN they will be able to tell you whether your house has FTTP or FTTN. The main difference ( apart from speed) is how you connect your router to the NBN.
This is the photo of the back of a router. (your NBN company may supply you with a router or you may bring your own.)
The white socket second from the right in the picture above is the ‘DSL’ port. It looks like a phone connection. If you have an ‘FTTN‘ connection ( Fibre to the Node) then you will have an NBN wall socket in your house, and you need to run what looks like a telephone wire from your new NBN wall socket into this ‘DSL’ port on your router.
The blue socket third from the right is an ethernet port. If you have an ‘FTTP‘ connection ( Fibre to the Premises) then you will have a little box on your wall that has its own ethernet port and you will need to plug an ethernet cable from your NBN wall box into this blue socket.
I will explain this in a little bit more detail below.
If you have FTTP then nbc co will come and connect a little box inside your house that looks a little bit like this:
At the bottom of this little box is an ethernet port where you can plug in an ethernet cable. An ethernet cable looks like this:
If you plug an ethernet cable into your NBN box, you can just plug the other end of this ethernet cable straight into the ethernet port of your Macintosh computer, and your Apple computer will automatically find the Internet and connect to it and you will be off surfing the web straight away! But in real life you will need something a little bit more sophisticated than this because you want to connect more than one computer to the Internet at a time. So you will need to buy a ‘router.’ A router lets you connect lots of computers into the one ethernet port. I will explain a little bit more about routers below. But basically, your NBN box connects to your router and your router connects to your computer and all you need to use to do this are two ethernet cables.
If you have an FTTN connection then you won’t have an NBN box in your house. Instead, you will have a connection that looks like an ordinary telephone connection, like this:
You can’t plug your computer straight into this wall socket. You need to plug a phone cable into this wall socket and plug the other end of the phone cable into a DSL router. This is almost the same set up you would have if you have an ADSL connection. It is not exactly the same because the DSL that the NBN uses its is different to the old ADSL so you will need to get a new modem. I would suggest you buy a new DSL router/modem from your ISP so that it comes to you with the right settings. The router your ISP will give you will look something like this:
A router is a little bit like a power board but for the Internet instead of electricity. A power board lets you plug lots of devices into the same power point. A router lets you plug lots of devices into the Internet.
If you have an FTTP connection then you can use pretty much any router that has an ethernet port. You could use an Apple airport base station. (An Apple airport Base station is a router). Or you could purchase any third party router (e.g. ASUS, TP-Link, etc).
If you have an FTTN connection then you need to make sure that your router has an NBN compatible DSL port.
My suggestion is that if you have an FTTP connection then you can go down to a shop like Officeworks and by pretty much any router off the shelf that has an ethernet port and you should be able to get the router pretty cheaply. But if you have an FTTN connection I would suggest you sign up on a plan and get the router from your ISP because these Routers take a little bit more setting up.
Most routers are also wireless so they will share your NBN connection with wireless devices like your iPhone and your iPad. .
Signing up with an ISP.
Most companies in Australia will have two options – you can sign up on a contract, where they will give you a router for free, but you need to stay with them for 12 months. The other option is that you can join up on a month by month plan with no contract – but generally this means you will need to bring your own router.
If you have your own router, and it will work, it makes sense to bring your own router because then you can sign up for a month by month plan and if anything goes wrong you can easily change to another ISP. If you don’t have your own router, it makes sense to sign up for a one year plan and they will generally throw in a free router.
This is the photo of the back of a router. This router would work with an FTTN connection and an FTTP connection because it has both an ethernet port and a DSL port, but some writers only have one option or the other.
As I have already explained, white socket second from the right is the DSL port and it goes to an FTTN connection, the blue socket third from the right is the ethernet port and it is for an FTTP connection.
Let me explain the other ports on the back of the router.
The four yellow ports are ethernet ports and they can connect to anything you want to connect to the Internet, for example a network TV, your Apple TV, another computer, a network hard drive.
The white port on the far right is a phone port, you would only use it if you are getting a VOIP phone connection from your ISP. If you have FTTN then you do not have a choice, you will need to use this phone port for your telephone because your old telephone port will be gone! If you have FTTP, then you may be still using your old copper phone wires for your telephone, or you can subscribe to a new Internet phone service. If you subscribe to a new Internet phone service then you will need to plug your telephone into this white phone port on the back of your router.
Choosing an ISP
There are lots of ISPs around. Internode are one of the most reliable. iiNet also have a very good reputation. Skymesh are also reasonably good quality and a bit cheaper. I was with Skymesh for three years and they were wonderful.
Currently I am with Aussie Broadband because I was having a few problems with Skymesh in Dubbo and Aussie Broadband were the cheapest reliable provider I could find.
If you would like to sign up with Aussie Broadband and you mention me (Wayne Connor firstname.lastname@example.org) then I will get a one-month credit to my Aussie broadband account. Also, if you then refer any of your friends onto Aussie broadband you will get a one month credit in your Aussie broadband account.
When you sign up with an ISP there are two things that you will need to decide:
- What speed do you want? The slowest speed is 12/1. The middle speed is 25/5. You can also get 50/20 or 100/40. The first number is 1st to the download speed ( e.g. watching movies) in the second number refers to the upload speed ( for example sending an email with a large attachment or backing up some data to the Internet). I personally found that the download speed for a 12/1 connection was plenty fast enough for me, but the 1Mbps upload speed was a bit slow, I am finding 5Mbps upload speed a lot more bearable. Also, if you get a faster speed it might be worth doing a speed test, because you might be paying for 50/20 but in the area you are in your speed test might show that you are only getting 12/1 in which case you may as well downgrade to a cheaper plan! this is a great speed test site here.
- How much data will you use? I would say 50 GB of data for a family is the minimum. We are on a 50 GB plan, we don’t watch many movies, and we almost use our 50 GB each month. If you watch lots of movies for example iview or Netflix, or play lots of networked games, then you may need to get 100 GB plan or more. You can easily monitor your usage over the first few months and adjust to the plan that you want. Most ISPs allow you to change plans easily and without a fee.
With Aussie broadband we are on 50 per month, our speed is 25/5 and that costs $40 per month.
If you want to do more research into ISPs and NBN speeds I would suggest you check out the Whirlpool forums. They are fantastic.