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Last Updated on January 2, 2022
Once upon a time, you had one or two choices for internet connections at home or on the job.
Now, technology and availability have advanced to the point where you have more options than ever before.
While this increases your odds of getting reliable, fast service no matter where you’re located in Australia, it may make your decision which is best for your needs that much harder.
Enter the National Broadband Network (NBN), high-speed network brought to you by the Australian government. They’ll supply the connectivity while you choose the best provider to bring it into your home or place of business.
See also: Top internet bundles for entertainment
What is the NBN?
Before we delve into our modem buying guide, we want to help you understand broadband technology and how it’s superior to previous networks. In order for a connection to be considered broadband, it must provide bandwidth of at least 25 megabits per second (Mbps).
Not to be confused with megabytes, which is a file size, megabits are the amount of data that can travel through a phone, cable modem, or fibre-optic network during a pre-set time limit.
With a connection speed of 25 Mbps, a typical 1MB web page can load in less than a second. Learn more about NBN connection types from our guide.
The National Broadband Network is a set of technologies that was created with the goal of bringing broadband access to 98 percent of Australians. That means that, even in the most remote location, you’ll have access to advanced tech that’s affordable and reliable.
The NBN was created by the government and distributed via the National Broadband Network Corporation (NBNCo).
It’s delivered through a multi-technology mix (MTM) that includes newly purchased geostationary satellites that were designed to launch and transmit from low in the orbit around the Australian continent. Consider them the wholesaler that acts as a bridge between you and your internet service provider (ISP).
See related: The Dangers of Public Wi-Fi
There are a number of ways that you can access the internet. The NBN rollout offers the following services and delivery methods:
- Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP): The fibre-optic cables runs from the street to a box mounted on an interior wall in your home or business building.
- Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN): With this setup, the fibre-optic cable is routed to a node in your neighbourhood and accessed in your building through a phone line.
- Fibre-to-the-Basement (FTTB): This configuration is used in multi-unit structures like office or apartment buildings. In this case, the node is placed in the basement of a building and run to individual units via phone lines.
- Hybrid fibre cable (HFC): With a hybrid setup, the internet connection is routed through an existing cable TV service into individual neighbourhoods and structures.
- Fixed wireless service: Through a fixed wireless service, the NBNCo sets up transmission towers in your neighbourhood. Individual users can then access the signal via roof antenna install on homes or business buildings.
- Satellite internet: This option allows areas that are inaccessible by other methods to have internet access. You would access internet service via a satellite dish installed on your building or elsewhere on your property, which is then pointed at a geo-stationery Skymuster satellite that’s locked into an orbit over your region.
You don’t have to be located in Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane. If you live in a really remote location or you have other reasons to boost your connection, you can consider adding a WiFi extender to the mix.
This device picks up and boosts your router signal, enabling it to reach multiple floors in your home or building and broadcasting to outdoor areas for movie or music streaming while you’re outside.
Those who want to increase connectivity within a building can add a power line inverter. This two-plug device allows you to bring the stability of a wired Ethernet connection to any room in your home or commercial space without installing additional wiring.
Just insert it into a power point and plug in your Ethernet cable into one adapter; the second adapter can be plugged into another power plug.
This will convert any plug into an internet connection.
The broadband technology is brought to you by the NBN and made available in your home or office through an internet service provider, many of whom are independent retail service providers (RSPs). Finding the best RSP to deliver the tech to your location is the slant of this guide.
Modem or Router: What’s the Difference?
A modem is the device that’s attached to your existing phone or cable line.
The router is a device that takes the signal coming in through your phone or cable line.
Then it distributes it to your devices via wired connection or wireless transmission.
Modern services give you both by using a single device that receives the signal from the service provider and distributes it. They’re higher in price if you buy one rather than use the one provided by the retailer, but they’re able to handle the kinds of speeds enabled by current transmission capabilities in Australia and elsewhere.
The NBN-affiliated RSPs that provide routers to Australians include:
- Aussie Broadband
- Boom Broadband
- DoDo, iPrimus
There are also a number of VDSL routers that have been tested and approved for use with NBN broadband services. These must be purchased and installed by the user (you).
- ASUS DSL-AC52U and DSL-AC68U
- Billion 8900AX-2400
- Cisco 887VA
- D-Link Taipan
- FRITZ!Box 7490
- Linksys X6200
- Netgear Nighthawk D7000 and Nighthawk X4S D7800
- Netcomm NF8AC
You may also be thrown off by the terms such as Asymmetric Digital subscriber lines (ADSL) and Very-high-Bitrate Subscriber lines (VDSL).
ADSL uses the traditional copper phone lines to bring you internet service if the line isn’t already in use for a voice call.
VDSL lines appear and act more like cable lines used to transmit your TV service.
In order to obtain the kind of speed promised by advanced tech, you need a router than can process the data at the rate of speed; traditional ADSL routers simply aren’t up to the task due to having max speeds of only 24 Mbps. Now that you know how your internet service is delivered, read on to find out the best NBN plans and service providers for your needs and budget.
Best 5 NBN Modems in 2022
Newer modems/routers that are approved by the NBNCo offer more than just faster connections, VDSL and VDSL2 routers makes sure there are no gaps or diminished coverage no matter where the receiving device is located on your property. Installed in an interior room on the ground floor, these devices are still able to provide a strong wireless signal on upper floors and outside.
You can also increase your modem speed by:
- Monitoring your bandwidth consumption
- Limited the number of connected devices
- Segmenting your service between a primary and guest line
- Setting your router for auto-rebooting
- Using a proxy cache
- Managing streaming or downloads more efficiently
- Configuring the best wireless channel
- Choosing the best RSP
There are several tools that you can use to test your speed. The Speed Test by Ookla has been around for a while and it super easy to use, Simply visit their website from the device that’s connected to your network and click the “GO” button. It can also test speeds from servers in different locations, if you’re connected to a VPN or proxy server.
The OZ Broadband speed test works in much the same way, except that it tests download and upload speeds. Just go to the website and click “Start Speed Test”. It works for ADSL 1, 2 and 2+; cable modems; NBN devices; 3G, 4G, wireless routers, and satellite connections.
You could also test your network by using the Speed Test. This mechanism was designed to check Telstra speeds, but it will work on almost any internet connection. As with the other two, simply visit their website from your connected device and click the “GO” button.
Now that you have a keen understanding of the basics and how to test them, here is our list of the 7 best NBN modems for Australians. Many of them will also work with IoT networked devices and home assistants like Alexa. If you want to learn more, read our guide on testing NBN speed.
All prices are approximate and subject to change at the reseller’s discretion.
1. ASUS DSL-AC68U AC1900 Dual-Band ADSL/VDSL Gigabit Wi-Fi Modem Router
- Per-user monitoring
- Compatibility with ASUS AICloud service
- Time-based parental controls
- USB LTE support
- Load balancing
- Great wireless performance
- Easy to install setup
- One USB port only
The DSL-AC68U remains one of the most advanced ADSL devices you’ll find from ASUS despite it’s longevity on the market. This is due mainly to the company’s firmware, which is some of the best you’ll find. It’s based on the open source OpenWRT protocol, and you can install a VPN on it with no problem.
One of the best things about this router is it’s flexibility. Although it’s an ADSL device, it also works with VDSL and fibre-optic networks. It can also handle speeds of up to 1,900 Mbps, making it ideal for gaming and movie streaming, and multiple concurrent connections.
2. AVM Fritz!Box 7490
- PSTN failover port
- Cordless handset synching
- Access control and monitoring rules configuration
- Multiple mailboxes
- Cloud-based contact list databases
- Automated wakeup calls
- VoIP-enable mobile apps
- Separate ports for analogue phones and DECT base stations
- Integrated modem
- Full-fledged telephony system
At less than $300, this is one of the few bargain-priced models on our list. It’s brought to you by a German company, and it’s one of the few newer routers that still supports VoIP. The firmware offers support for VP installation, and you can assign one of the LAN ports as a WAN port. Best of all, it’s plug-and-play right out of the box.
3. D-Link Cobra AC5300 DSL-5300
- Quad-core 1.8 GHz processor
- Mobile apps
- VPN support
- Multiple device support
- Configurable parental controls
- Very fast
- More than enough antennas
- Lacks Ethernet ports
If you’ve been waiting like the rest of us, you’ll be happy to know that D-Link finally built a router with a modem attachment. That’s not all you’ll love about this powerful device. It also has the fastest wireless capability currently on the market.
Although it’s large, crab-like appearance isn’t exactly a home style statement, the eight antennas allow you to generate two separate, independent 4X4 MU-MIMO AC networks that are capable of 2137 Mbps download speeds.
This device works better as a wired connection than a Wi-Fi router, but that doesn’t diminish its speed and power. It has fewer features than other brands on our list, but the features it has are worth the high price.
4. Netcomm NF18ACV AC1600 xDSL
- Fully functional ADSL2+/VDSL2 gateway
- Four Gigabit Ethernet 10/100/1000 LAN ports
- VoIP feature with connectivity for two phone lines
- Two push button connection for 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands
- TR-069 device and performance monitoring
- 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet WAN port
Price: Starts at $185
- Great speed
- Customers reported problems with crashing
If you’re going to pay for a router/modem to access your NBN service, this is the best priced model around. For less than $100, you’ll enjoy free TPG bundles with your NBN service and a design that’s similar to the TP-Link model detailed below.
In addition to its great wireless broadband capabilities, you can attach up to two USB devices and share A/V media files fast and in real time. This UFB/NBN-ready device features dual bands and a number of other functions.
5. TP-Link Archer VR2800
- Twin USB ports
- Support for USB-based storage 3G/LTE modems
- Configurable failover capability
- DSL service load balancing
- Internet setup
- Time-based parental controls
- VPN support
- Reasonable price
- Easy to use
- The longer the range the slower the speed
When you’re looking for something relatively low priced and basic, TP-Link Archer VR2800 offers excellent features without going over the top or complicating setup and use.
It’s not quite as fancy as Netgear devices, but you’ll still enjoy 4X4 MU-MIMO wireless capabilities. You’ll also experience high speeds even with multiple connections or a large household full of gamers and streamers. The range is fantastic as well.
There are a couple of ways to set this device up, including the traditional standard web user interface (UI) and the TP-Link mobile app. Of the two, the mobile app is the easiest and fastest, and you’ll still be able to access the best features.
Don’t Forget About Security
Next to speed, which can be boosted by using top wi-fi channels, security should be your biggest concern. The best way to protect your identity while surfing the internet is to install a virtual private network (VPN) on your router and all connected devices.
If you don;t know much about virtual networks or you’re unsure which is the best service, you can check out our comprehensive guide to hiding your IP address. It will tell you everything you need to know about the benefits of network protection.
Our goal is to provide you with the most up-to-date information possible about internet access in Australia. We strive to give you the facts you need about connections, tech requirements, pricing, and reliability so that you can make solid decisions about your home or business connectivity.
- ASUS DSL-AC52U and DSL-AC68U.
- Billion 8900AX-2400.
- Cisco 887VA.
- D-Link Taipan.
- FRITZ! Box 7490.
- Linksys X6200.
- Netgear Nighthawk D7000 and Nighthawk X4S D7800.
- Netcomm NF8AC.
- The Motorola MG8702 Gigabit Cable Modem with built-in AC3200 4X4 Router... ...
- Enjoy effortless speed with this SURFboard cable modem and Wi-Fi router... ...
- This NETGEAR® Nighthawk® X4S AC3200 Wi-Fi DOCSIS® 3.1 ultra-high-speed... ...
- Interconnect your smart devices at home with this NETGEAR Nighthawk AX6...
Telstra: Telstra Smart Modem 3
Considering Telstra includes landline in all of its NBN plans, the Telstra Smart Modem 3 might be the one of the best NBN modem routers with VOIP capabilities if you're looking for plans with phone calls included (without an additional home phone package cost).
Note that many modems are also routers, so be sure to check if you need two separate devices. Where a modem is required, any VDSL2 compatible modem should work with your NBN connection. Note that some suppliers will not provide tech support if you don't use one of their certified modems/routers.Can I buy my own NBN modem? ›
HFC NBN: You'll need a router. This will plug into the NBN connection box. Fibre to the Node NBN: You'll need a modem router. This will plug into the telephone socket used to facilitate your NBN connection.How often should modems be replaced? ›
Typically, you should look to upgrade or replace your cable modem every two to four years. Newer cable modem technology, such as DOCSIS 3.1, can have a variety of improvements, including faster download speeds, faster uplink speeds, enhanced streaming capabilities, DOCSIS 3.1 capabilities and more.Can cable modem be hacked? ›
All in all, it's clever research, but your cable modem will most likely get hacked because you forgot to change its default password or is vulnerable to other security flaws that are directly exploitable from the internet because you forgot to update its firmware.How do I know which modem is better? ›
- Check compatibility with your ISP. This is the most important step of all: Check that your potential new modem is compatible with your ISP. ...
- Consider how much you want to spend on a new modem. ...
- Make sure your modem supports your internet speed. ...
- What to know about cable modems. ...
- What to know about DSL modems.
- Consider how much you want to spend on a router. ...
- Check to see if your new router is compatible with your ISP. ...
- Make sure your router supports the internet speed you pay for. ...
- Look for a newer wireless protocol. ...
- Use mesh Wi-Fi or extenders to spread Wi-Fi through your house. ...
- Don't forget optional features.
Just like routers, more expensive modems provide faster speeds—as long as you have a fast enough plan with your ISP. Conversely, if you pay for a super-fast internet package but buy a cheap modem, you may not be getting those advertised speeds.
For most NBN connections, you'll need a modem that is labelled as ADSL2+, VDSL or VDSL2, which you can usually see on the back of the modem. For certain NBN connection types, such as NBN Wireless or Fibre to the Premise (FTTP), you'll also need a modem with an Ethernet WAN port.Can I replace my NBN modem? ›
As a rule, your modem has to be compatible with your technology type. You can't just use any modem with any internet plan. For example, if you're changing from ADSL to NBN, there's a chance you might need a new modem. But if you're just changing NBN plans at the same address, you won't need a new modem.Do I need to call my ISP if I get a new modem? ›
You can replace your WiFi router without calling your ISP. However, if you will be replacing the cable modem, you will need to call your ISP for them to register the new cable modem.Do I need a modem for NBN or just a router? ›
Do I still need a modem with the NBN? It depends if your NBN hardware already has one installed. For instance, you'll need a modem router if you have an FTTB or FTTN NBN connection. For other connection types, like FTTP, FTTC, Satellite NBN or fixed wireless, you'll just need a router.Should I BYO modem for NBN? ›
Our NBN Home Superfast & NBN Home Ultrafast plans are currently supplied on a “BYO modem” basis for new customers, which means that you'll need to supply your own modem. Most modems in use today are technically capable of supporting speeds of approximately: Up to 300Mbps over WiFi.How do I check the health of my modem? ›
Turn off Wi-Fi on your computer to ensure you're connecting to the internet via ethernet. Open Google Search and type "internet speed test," and select Run Speed Test. If the resulting download and upload speeds are far below what you should be getting, this may indicate a failing modem.Why do I have to keep unplugging my modem? ›
The need to keep resetting your cable modem is because of problems with it. If you leave the connections that send data to the modem open for long, it consumes its memory, making the modem run into bugs, which slows it down. Also, its operating system may freeze, hence the need to keep on resetting.Can I replace my modem myself? ›
But most ISPs also let you buy your own modem, which is fairly easy for the average computer user to hook up. Some special modem types—like fiber or satellite—aren't easily replaceable yet, but the vast majority of us can ditch our rented modems and reap some substantial benefits in the process.How do I secure my home router? ›
- Change the default name and password of your home network. ...
- Limit access to your wireless network. ...
- Create a home guest network. ...
- Turn on WiFi network encryption. ...
- Turn on your router firewall. ...
- Turn off your WiFi network when you leave home. ...
- Update your router's firmware.
- Update your software regularly. ...
- Remove unnecessary services and software. ...
- Adjust factory-default configurations on software and hardware. ...
- Change default log-in passwords and usernames. ...
- Use strong and unique passwords. ...
- Run up-to-date antivirus software.
This past week, Netgear found a security flaw in its home networking equipment that may put you at risk of being hacked. This security vulnerability affects nearly 50 Netgear models. At-Risk devices include Netgear modems, gateways, extenders, routers, and mesh satellites.Are home Wi-Fi router safe? ›
Wireless routers give off electromagnetic radiation in the low-gigahertz frequency, this level is considered potentially dangerous to people. The danger from WiFi routers is intensified by several factors, such as age, duration, general health, and your overall wif EMF exposures.