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NBN jargon buster

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Excited woman on her laptop at home reading about the NBN.

The NBN is now commonplace for many Aussies, with around 8 million households and businesses connected to the network as of 2021, according to the ACCC

But the truth is there’s a bit of techie-jargon to know, whether you’re signing up, setting up or simply enquiring about the NBN. 

We’ve got you covered right here with our Mozo NBN jargon buster: 

National Broadband Network (NBN):

The National Broadband Network, more commonly known as NBN, is the government-owned broadband connection that was rolled out to Aussies in 2009.  The network aims to provide faster broadband and internet-based phone connections to homes and businesses across the country.


NBN Co was set-up as a government-owned corporation in 2009, with the goal of designing, building and operating Australia’s wholesale broadband access network - the NBN. Its stated purpose has been to ensure all Australians have access to fast broadband as soon as possible and at affordable prices. 

Retail Service Provider (RSP) / Internet Service Provider (ISP):

An RSP or ISP refers to companies that offer retail products to connect customers to the NBN, such as Telstra, TPG, Belong etc. In order to access the NBN, you must sign up for a plan with one of these providers and might be supplied with a modem or router.

Keep in mind that this modem might not be compatible or as capable as others, but it may make dealing with support requests easier. In most cases, if you need support with your connection you’ll need to contact your RSP or ISP.

Megabits per second (Mbps):

Mbps is a measure of data transmission speeds - it’s the industry standard terminology for broadband (including NBN) download and upload speeds. When comparing NBN plans, you may notice their advertised in speed tiers, measured in Mbps download speeds. Currently, the common NBN Mbps speeds on offer are NBN 12,  NBN 25, NBN 50, NBN 100, NBN 250 and NBN 1000. 

Fibre to the Premises (FTTP):

FTTP is an NBN connection type where the optic fibre cable runs directly from the closest available fibre node to an NBN connection box located at a property. This type of connection isn’t the most widely available, however it often offers the fastest internet speeds up to 1000Mbps. 

Fibre to the Building / Fibre to the Basement (FTTB):

FTTB is another NBN connection type that feeds internet signals from the fibre node into the basement of a large building or apartment block. From there it utilises existing copper cables within the building to run connections to individual units or businesses. This connection type offers speeds of up to 100Mbps.

Fibre to the Node (FTTN):

FTTN is a type of NBN connection that runs fibre-optic cable to an installed cabinet or box that is typically located at the end of a street. It’s from this central location that existing copper wires are used to connect individual properties to the NBN. This is a more common connection type in Aussie homes, and speeds go up to 100Mbps. 

Fibre to the Curb (FTTC):

Like FTTN, FTTC is an NBN connection type that doesn’t run directly to a property. Instead the fibre-optic cable runs to the Distribution Point Unit (DPU) located at the curb or driveway close to a home. This then connects to existing copper wires that are connected to the premises. Speeds currently go up to 100Mbps but according to NBN Co, speeds of 250Mbps and 1000Mbps are set to rollout sometime in 2021. 

Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial (HFC):

HFC is another type of NBN connection that runs from the closest fibre node location and utilises existing wiring for a pre-existing cable internet or pay TV service such as Foxtel. Technically speaking, this connection type should support up to 1000Mbps, however most HFC users will only be able to reach speeds of 250Mbps. 

Fixed Wireless:

Fixed wireless NBN runs a connection through radio signals from a transmission tower to an outdoor antenna located at a property. This technology allows rural and regional homes that are too far away from a cable connection to access the internet. Fixed wireless has a maximum download speed of 75Mbps, however it often operates at 50Mbps due to congestion at peak times.   


Sky Muster satellite NBN connection is another option for rural and regional Aussies. This involves a signal being sent from an NBN satellite to a satellite dish located on the roof of a property. Speeds only reach up to 25Mbps, sometimes dropping to a low of 15Mbps during busy periods.  

Megabyte (MB):

MB is a unit of data for downloads and uploads on your NBN plan. Some RSPs include a set allowance for users within their plan offering, while others offer unlimited plans, which means there is no cap on the amount of data used. 


A modem is a piece of networking equipment that is provided by your RSP so that you can connect to the NBN. Depending on your NBN connection and if you need a modem, your RSP will typically provide you with a modem that is compatible.


A router shares your NBN connection in your home via wired or Wi-Fi networking, and connects directly to your modem via an Ethernet cable. In many cases, users who require a modem, will typically receive a modem-router which merges the job of both pieces of equipment.


Wi-Fi is the most common standard (or set of standards) for wireless computing, and it’s the technology that allows you to wirelessly connect your laptop, PC, phone or smart TV  to your NBN router. Instead of using an Ethernet cable to physically connect to the internet, Wi-Fi means you can connect without any cords. 

Ethernet cable:

An Ethernet cable is a physical cord that connects a device to a router, or a router to a modem to link up with the NBN. When you receive your modem or router from your RSP, you might also receive an Ethernet cable which you may need to plug into your device for internet connection. 

NBN Connection Box:

An NBN Connection Box, or Network Termination Device (NTD) is the device used for FTTP and Fixed Wireless connections that an NBN technician installs at a home or business. You’ll need to plug your modem or modem-router into this box in order to receive Wi-Fi connection. 

NBN Utility Box:

An NBN Utility Box, or Premises Connection Device (PCD) is the device located outside of the home or business for FTTP connections. The Utility Box is connected to the NBN optical-fibre cables, which then feeds into the NBN Connection Box located inside the property. 

Distribution Point Unit (DPU):

A DPU is used with FTTC NBN connections and is where fibre-optic cables run into. It’s often located in a telecommunications pit on the side of a street and is where existing copper cables receive NBN signals to feed into a home.


A download is when data is transferred from the internet onto your device. This includes things like downloading images, receiving emails, streaming music or videos and even using social media to chat online.  


An upload refers to when data is transferred from your device to somewhere on the internet, such as a social media platform or email. This includes posting pictures and videos, sending messages or files, using iCloud/Google Drive etc. 

Looking for more information on the NBN and your options? Head over to our NBN hub for some more in-depth guides and the latest NBN news or check out some of the latest deals below!

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Rhianna Dews
Rhianna Dews
Senior Money Writer

Rhianna, RG146 certified in Generic Knowledge and Deposit Products, has helped Aussies with finances for a decade. She's written for TechRadar, Simple Living Australia, and worked with Foxtel and Vodafone.

Polly Fleeting
Polly Fleeting
Money writer

Polly is a personal finance writer specialising in loans and credit cards and general consumer banking. She has a degree in Journalism from the University of Technology, Sydney.