What is the nbn?


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What is the nbn?

The nbn logo

What's coming up

In this activity, you'll learn about a new way to connect to the internet: the National Broadband Network, or nbn.

The nbn uses new infrastructure to provide an internet connection to your home, without having to use the old telephone wires.

In this activity, you'll learn about how the nbn can make your internet at home better, especially for families with lots of people trying to use the internet at once. And we'll give you some important information about how the nbn will eventually replace your old landline telephone connection.

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What is the nbn?

The National Broadband Network is a new way to connect to the internet. Current connections use the old telephone wires, which can be unreliable and slow. Some connections use a cable, provided by a commercial company, which can be expensive and isn't available everywhere.

The nbn is like a whole new telephone network, with new lines and exchanges, except it's designed with the internet in mind.

An illustration showing how the nbn will delivery the internet to a home in a separate but similar way to the existing broadband service
A diagram indicating the nbn internet service is promised to be much faster than the current internet service

A fast internet

The main benefit of the nbn is to provide fast internet to Australians.

Some places can get very fast internet over a special cable or with a special antenna, but not everyone has access to these.

The nbn is under construction. Once it has been finished, almost every Australian will have access to a fast and reliable internet connection.

Why speed matters

The internet is always changing, and there are always new things to do online. We get content (text, pictures, video and more) from the internet, in the form of computer code called data.

The speed of an internet connection is how much data it can send to you, as quickly as possible. A slow connection can send you text or photos but might struggle to send you video.

The nbn infrastructure gives a fast connection. That means more data can be sent to your house more quickly, and you will be able to enjoy everything the internet has to offer.

The nbn logo
An illustration showing all the devices that will be able to connect to the nbn

Who benefits from the nbn?

Fast internet is very good for households with lots of people who want to do lots of things online at the same time. For example, in a family with three kids:

  • Mum is sending documents to her work.
  • Dad is watching an online video.
  • The kids are playing different online games and watching catch-up TV shows.

Added together, these activities use a lot of data. The nbn can give the family this data quickly enough so their activities all run smoothly and without interruption.

What can I do on the nbn?

The nbn works like a normal internet connection, so you can still browse normal web pages, send email, share photos and do other regular activities.

But the nbn is fast, so you'll also be able to watch catch-up TV, or a movie. Best of all, when you do this, other people in your house can still do their own internet activities.

An illustration showing all the devices in a home connecting to the internet via the nbn
An illustration showing a router with a nbn ready sticker on it

How does the nbn work?

The nbn is mostly just the same as your current internet connection. Depending on the way it gets set up in your area, you might get a small box on the outside of your house. Inside, your router will still connect to a cable, and then distribute the internet via Wi-Fi to your devices.

When you buy an nbn connection, your internet provider will come and connect it to your house. Once set up, it works the same as other home internet connections.

Can I get nbn?

The nbn is still under construction. Some areas have it already, others are still waiting. You can check your own address at a special government website:


Enter your street address and the site will show you if nbn is already available or give an estimate of when it will be. You can watch how to do this in the video on the next slide

The nbn logo
An illustration showing how your existing home phone can connect to the nbn by using an adapter or special box

The nbn and your old telephone

The nbn is an upgrade from the existing phone and internet infrastructure, right down to the wires that go in the ground or on the overhead wires. It will eventually replace all the old telephone wires, so you will be making phone calls over the internet instead.

Any new nbn connection will include a converter for your phone, usually in the form of a small extra box. You'll still be able to make calls as normal. You might need to get a new phone number, or your internet provider might be able to help you keep your existing number.

Well done!

This is the end of the What is the nbn? activity. You've learned that the nbn is an upgrade from the existing phone and internet infrastructure, but that it's not available everywhere yet. Remember that the nbn will mean that you may need to replace your existing landline telephone, and you may need to get a new phone number.

The last activity in this course is What if my home network can't connect to the internet? where you'll learn some troubleshooting tips to get back on the internet as quickly and easily as possible.

A new nbn connection being supplied to a local street, ready to connect the community