An NBN outage is unlikely, but it could still happen. So what should you do if you have an experience? (And yes, we understand the irony of posting tips online for you to read when your internet connection is down).
An NBN outage can either be caused by a problem in your own home, usually a problem with your equipment, or it could be a more widespread problem affecting the area where you live. Temps can also vary between NBN. providers.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) tracks network outages experienced by various NBN providers, and in its latest Broadband Performance Measurement report published in December 2022, it looked at the number of daily outages from 11 providers.
Of these, it found that Vodafone experienced the most daily outages lasting more than 30 seconds, with 0.53. Optus has the least experience at 0.14.
What to do when the NBN goes out
Why you can trust Tom Guide
Our experts spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best one for you. Learn more about our testing.
If your internet connection drops suddenly, according to the ACCC information above, it shouldn’t last long. However, if it persists for some time, you should take a few steps to identify the problem.
Check NBN status
If you have a mobile data connection on your phone, then you can visit the NBN Co website, enter your address and check your connection status. If NBN Co is showing a low connection status, it’s likely to be an area-wide problem. If so, there’s not much you can do personally other than wait for NBN to fix the problem.
However, if the NBN says you should have a connection to your property, then you can determine if the problem is with your equipment or your particular NBN provider.
Turn it off and on again
If the NBN outage is caused by a problem in your home, then the easiest thing to do is to turn the modem or router off and on again. This is the oldest trick in the book, but it can also be one of the most effective.
Most Wi-Fi routers have a reset button that you can press, but if you’re having trouble finding one, a simple power off at the wall outlet is perfect.
Check the status lights
Your NBN connection box will have various LED lights to show the status of your connection (these will differ depending on the type of NBN connection you have). You can check the status of the lights by going to your NBN provider’s troubleshooting page.
Finally, if any lights are off or orange (ie anything other than green), this could indicate a problem. With this information you can contact your NBN provider for help diagnosing the problem.
If all the lights are green and you still can’t get online, it’s a problem with your router.
How to stay online during an NBN outage
If you’re reading this page and experiencing an NBN outage, then you probably already know how to stay online. However, if you’re upgrading your knowledge so you know what to do if you ever experience an NBN outage, read on.
If your NBN goes down, the best and easiest way to stay connected is to access the hotspot from another device, such as your smartphone. Enabling personal hotspot on your Android or iOS device should be relatively simple (you can usually just look for it in the settings menu), but remember that once enabled, you’ll be using data from your cellular plan.
That’s why it’s important to know both how much data you have on your plan and how much data is left in your current billing cycle. This is especially important if you need to download large files or want to stream music or video content.
Get an NBN plan with 4G backup
Some NBN plans come complete with a modem that provides 4G backup. This means that if the main NBN connection goes down, the router will automatically connect to a 4G data signal that you can connect to to stay online.
Currently only Telstra, Optus and Vodafone offer NBN plans with 4G backup and you can find links to their NBN 50 plans (all with 4G backup modems) below. Note that Vodafone’s plan only comes with AU$15 savings if you have a mobile phone plan with the provider.
Find public Wi-Fi
You’ll find that the vast majority of coffee shops and malls will offer free public Wi-Fi, so if you live near one, you can grab your laptop, tablet or smartphone and log in.
If you’re in the middle of a busy work day, we appreciate that this might not be the best option for you – not least because public Wi-Fi hotspots will be less secure – but if you want to check your social media feeds or send a few emails, public Wi-Fi -Fi is a good backup option.