Optimise the setup in your nbn™ FTTN connected home

The following tips may help whether you're connecting for the first time or hoping to enhance your Wi-Fi capabilities.

Speed test

A simple speed test will allow you to check for Wi-Fi coverage issues by comparing your speed when connected via an Ethernet cable and also via Wi-Fi at different points throughout your home.

To ensure you're getting the most accurate results, try to conduct your tests at a time when your connection won't be impacted by the use of other devices, such as streaming video on your television.

How to conduct a speed test

If you have a device, such as a laptop or desktop computer that you can plug an Ethernet cable into, start from step 1. If all your devices are Wi-Fi only, then start from step 4.

Your results

Where you place your modem matters

The physical objects between your device (laptop, phone, tablet) and your modem can play a big part in the quality of your Wi-Fi signal. Some materials that can significantly reduce your Wi-Fi signal include:

Thick walls – Brick, cement walls.
Metal panels – Cupboard doors, mirrors, shelves.
Appliances – Refrigerators, televisions, microwaves.

Tips on modem placement:

  • Try to place your modem in a raised and central area (never on the floor).
  • Avoid putting your modem behind the television or tucked away in a cupboard.
  • Connect fixed devices, like your television, directly to your modem with an Ethernet cable.
  • Keep in mind, the smaller the distance from the modem, the better the signal and faster the speed.

If you have a medical alarm connected to your modem, speak to your provider before moving your device as this may affect your alarm connectivity. 

Original modem location 

Distance and some materials can significantly reduce your Wi-Fi signal

Optimal modem location

A centrally located modem has potential to reach more of your home

Check for wireless interference

Wi-Fi signals from other networks and devices (like those from your neighbours), as well as non-Wi-Fi sources, have potential to overlap and cause wireless interferences that can slow down the speeds you receive. While this type of interference can often be inconsistent and difficult to detect, there are some known causes you can try to avoid:

  • Microwave ovens
  • Bluetooth devices
  • Wireless security systems
  • Cordless phones

To help minimise any potential wireless interference, try connecting to the 5Gz band of your modem whenever possible, or move your devices and modem away from known sources of interference.

Choose the optimal Wi-Fi band

The Wi-Fi band you connect to can have a big effect on the strength of your signal. When connecting to your modem for the first time you may see two networks on your device:

  • [MyNetwork]
  • [MyNetwork]_5G

These networks signify that your modem supports two Wi-Fi bands, which each operate on separate frequencies (2.4GHz and 5GHz).

When connecting to your Wi-Fi network, it’s best to choose the _5G network first, assuming your device recognises this as an option. Some newer modems will automatically select the best network for you. There are a handful of notable differences between each frequency:

2.4GHz

  • Reaches further into your home
  • Slower than 5GHz
  • More susceptible to interference 
2.4GHz generally offers more range and coverage but at a lower speed. 2.4GHz signals are better at penetrating thick walls and objects. 
5GHz
  • Doesn't reach as far as 2.4GHz
  • Faster than 2.4GHz
  • Less susceptible to interference 
The 5GHz band generally provides higher speeds than 2.4GHz but has less range and coverage. The 5GHz band is less prone to interference.
Note: This information is based on repeated and thorough testing of a range of hardware within Australia.

Upgrade your technology

Some modems perform very differently to others. If you’re dissatisfied with the default device you were initially supplied with, you may want to consider upgrading to a high performance modem. 

Standard modem

A standard, or default modem can impact your experience 

High performance modem

A high powered modem has potential to provide stronger Wi-Fi signal, strength and stability.

Modem features to look out for:

Upgraded modems have a range of helpful features.

We recommend that you do some research online and find the solution that works best for you, within your budget. Like most things in life you generally ‘get what you pay for’. As such usually the more expensive devices will perform better as they have higher quality components, more antennas, and a better build quality.

For more information about which device is right for you, please speak to your phone and internet provider.

Upgrade your devices

Older devices tend to have fewer internal antennas and support older Wi-Fi standards, which are slower. If you’re experiencing poor Wi-Fi connections using older devices, you may want to check the Wi-Fi performance using a newer device from the same location. This will help you work out if your older device may be the cause of any issues. 

Wi-Fi extenders and mesh devices

Wi-Fi extenders and Wi-Fi mesh devices can broaden Wi-Fi coverage throughout your entire home, while also reducing the instances of dropouts and slow speeds due to limited Wi-Fi coverage. There are however some differences between the two:

Without an extender

In this diagram, signal is blocked by the refrigerator

With an extender

When you can’t move your modem, an extender is a good way to increase coverage in areas with low signal

Mesh

Wi-Fi mesh devices replace the Wi-Fi connection from your existing modem and generally provide more complete coverage. They also automatically connect your portable device to the strongest/closest Wi-Fi mesh node. Wi-Fi mesh systems are however more expensive than Wi-Fi extenders. 

Examine your internal wiring

In the case of all nbn™ FTTN connections, the modem will plug into the main telephone wall outlet and your VoIP enabled phone will plug into your modem. If you have additional telephone wall sockets around your home, these may significantly weaken the performance and stability of your FTTN service. Speak to your registered cabler or electrician about isolating these from the main outlet.
 
Some older homes can have time-worn wiring that may also impact service. Please speak to your service provider or a registered cabler for advice or next steps.

Consider network cabling

Where practical, you could consider using physical network cabling from your modem to connect your fixed devices such as televisions, desktop computers and game consoles for best performance.

If you’re renovating or building, this might be a good time to invest in internal network cabling. To get started, consider the following:
 
  • What devices do you use? Make a list of all your internet connected devices and services.
  • Where do you need to use them? Mark where your devices and services need to be located on your floor plan. 

Contact a registered cabler

registered cabler can inspect your home and make changes that can improve your internal wiring. Here are some topics to discuss with your technician:

  • Ask your registered cabler to connect your modem to the first telephone socket, it's usually located near your front door. If you're not happy with where your first socket is located, your technician might be able to re-cable to your preferred location for a first socket. For more technical information about this, refer to the Communications Alliance guide G649.
  • Older homes often have older cables which can affect internet performance. Request an assessment of the age of your internal cables. 
  • Find out whether there are old telephone sockets in use in your home, and request they be isolated from the main outlet.
  • The registered cabler can also assess your internal network and advise of any improvements you can make to increase coverage throughout your home. 

Next steps

If you have completed steps one to five and you are still unhappy with your experience, it might be a good time for you to review your choice of speed plan that you have purchased from your phone and internet provider. You can also go to your phone and internet provider's website to see if they have more advice on improving your connection. 

Please be aware that phone and internet providers may be experiencing extremely high call volumes and support requests at present and are working with reduced staffing levels. For further information, please refer to your provider's website or our blog in the first instance.