NBN - Changing NBN Services or Providers, what could go wrong? The good? The not so good!

A recent experience changing an NBN service, in this instance from one provider Westnet (aka iiNet these days) to Aussie Broadband has encouraged opening the discussion.

Locked modem routers.
Bringing a modem/wireless router previously supplied by one provider is not without risk. When attempting to set it up with the new service provider it may not be possible (insufficient admin authority) to access all the settings required to reuse the modem/router with the new provider.

Keeping to a minimum of detailed technical discussion. With respect to the TP-Link Archer VR1600v Modem Routers supplied by iiNet for NBN services with VoIP. The customer is not able to access the VoIP set up, perform backups of the device, or update the firmware. In the instance I can relate these features are however accessible to iiNet by remote access through a Super User password. Note the password is common, IE not unique to each device according to what I’ve read. Obviously unlikely to be shared with the end user.

I’m not seeking a technical solution to the problem. IE how to continue to use the device with a new provider rather than sending it to landfill. There are several options with different levels of risk attached. None I’d recommend as an any person solution.

Porting phone numbers - VoIP connection.
Moving a Telecom or Internet service provider would one would expect to be able to keep the same phone number at the same address?

I’ve done that previously successfully porting a copper line and ADSL2 service number to NBN Fixed Wireless service with a different provider. It was relatively painless with minimal loss of service.

This time around it’s simply changing the NBN internet and VoIP from one service provider to another without moving property. No address to change and retaining the existing NBN HFC modem in the home. The internet service changed seamlessly. For the VoIP phone line after 5 working days we are still waiting to be advised the number has been ported across. ABB advised various time frames, the latest being it can take up to 10 days with iiNet to release the service number! Perhaps this is true for other providers, or is there some other reason? It’s a long time to be without access to your long held home phone number.

As an aside ABB suggested there is no absolute guarantee any number can be ported. I’ve yet to go down that rabbit hole. If anyone knows why that might be I’d like to know why it could be? Especially if it is at the same address and NBN connection.


For other reasons after I ‘joined’ NBN and experienced outages worthy of estates not single customers, I realised that the VOIP providers [usually] have voicemail on their servers. I put an announce only set to answer after many rings that stated ‘If you are listening to this message my NBN and phone service is down. Please ring my mobile.’

Similarly I recommend anyone changing RSPs and having VOIP service to register one such as ‘If you are listening to this announcement my number is currently inoperative. Please ring my mobile or try again in [2 days]. No messages can be left for me in the interim.’ prior to pressing the ‘go’ button to transfer any of it.

One reason is that only ‘active’ numbers can be ported. One that was suspended/cancelled already, including when leaving an RSP, is not guaranteed. It is important to keep everything ‘live’ and let the new RSP deal with it. A less obvious reason is a data mismatch in the ownership/account title between the new and old RSP.


I would call that a major security risk.

We decided to give up our home number on moving to the NBN, as it just didn’t get used enough. Additionally, NBN providers’ treatment of VOIP as something they should control was a big turn-off - there should be standardisation of equipment and setup, regardless of NBN provider (RSP).

It does not appear that the Customer Service Guarantee applies to VOIP. Similarly, while Statutory Infrastructure Providers (SIPs) have some obligations it is not clear that there is anything specific about timeliness.

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All has been left to the new RSP who provided similar advice.


This is a simplified answer:

Access to the Internet is simple because you initiate all the action. When you power up your modem/router, you are given an address by the service provider. When you make any request, that request has the address you were given so the reply goes to that address. Each service provider has a block of addresses that is fixed, so the routing system knows your address is somewhere in the block of addresses ‘owned’ by the provider so sends replies to the provider and they forward it to you because they know your address. You don’t need to know the address, and unless you specifically requested a fixed address it can change each time the modem is powered up.

A phone number (VoIP or otherwise) is a bit different because it is a fixed address. So moving it requires one service provider to release it before another service provider takes it up. There is no block of numbers permanently allocated to one service provider because people want to take their number with them. So there is a whole backroom infrastructure to handle the mapping of fixed telephone numbers to variable Internet addresses.

Maybe that wasn’t simple.

The reason ADSL2 migrations were simpler is because the phone was still POTS (plain old telephone system) connected. It was not part of the Internet so could be migrated independently of the service provider.