The rollout of the government’s national broadband network (NBN) is finally gaining momentum.
After years as a talking point in newspaper articles and parliament, the NBN is now in millions of homes, and Australian families are moving en mass to the new network.
This is exciting: you should take up the NBN as soon as you can.
But as you make the move, it is worth weighing up your options.
There are a few things to know upfront.
First, switching to the NBN is compulsory. After your house is connected there is an 18-month window before the old systems are disconnected.
A recent survey suggested that as many as a third of Australians didn’t know that the NBN is designed to replace the existing phone services and ADSL internet, so be sure to spread the word.
Second, NBN plans are sold by speed tiers. NBN 12 is the basic option and is similar in speed to ADSL internet today. It is followed by NBN 25, NBN 50 and NBN 100, where the numbers indicate the maximum download speed for the plan.
Each step up is generally $10 more expensive than the previous increment, so that an NBN 100 plan is typically $30 a month more expensive than an NBN 12 plan.
The problem is that not all homes can achieve the full speed of the network.
Houses connected using fibre-to-the-node technology are affected by the distance of the house from the node: a green cabinet located on a footpath somewhere in your neighbourhood. The further your house is away from the node, the more the speed is affected, even if you pay for the most expensive plan.
To find the right plan, it would be wise to start on the lower end of the NBN pricing spectrum and work your way up. Sign up to an NBN 12 plan and see what you think.
If you have a larger family with lots of phones and computers on the network, perhaps try NBN 25. You can always increase the speed in your plan later on, so you may as well keep the bills down while you experiment.
And, most importantly, you don’t want to pay extra for a service that, for reasons beyond your control, you just can’t use.