NBN Router/Modems, Reviews & Some Gotchas

Worth a read for anyone with a BYO modem router to the wonderful world of NBN.



Another cost imposed on the consumer…now having to get rid of a high quality, reasonably new and working ADSL2/VOIP router as it is incomparable with the upcoming NBN HFC rollout in our area.

War on Waste comes to mind.


Could the Techs clarify something for me. My understanding is that if you use the NBN supplied modem the scope of routers that you can connect to it is much greater, or put it the other way, the limitations are due to the modem part not the router part of a modem-router. Is that right?


You can connect other routers of any brand to another router, or use switches to do it also. Switches are a basic networking device that when it receives a signal from a part of the network it sends it out to all the available connections it has, sort of like sending a message to all your contacts so it gets to just one of them in that list who you wanted it to get to. There are what are called Smart Switches but they operate in a similar way to any other switch for the purposes of this post. Routers do it more smartly, it knows which one sent the message and which one should receive the message.

The concern with the NBN is not the router part but the part that sends the messages to and receives the messages from the web ie the modem.

FTTN uses a form of modem that understands the VDSL2 ( very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line 2) way of doing that, this is different from ADSL and requires a change of modems.

HFC uses another way of doing that internet sending and receiving and needs a modem that understands that particular way.

Fixed Wireless again uses another way so a different modem and there is a similar experience for Satellite ie they need a special connection box.

FTTP has a modem that is installed/affixed in your house as it needs to convert light signals into data packets and in this case you only need an ethernet device in your computer to connect into the data port of that affixed modem or if you want more devices to connect you use a router or a switch or a mix of them.

FTTC uses a similar modem to FTTN.

So the limitations of what you can use in each type are as you stated “the limitations are due to the modem part not the router part of a modem-router”. You could use a combined modem/router on a FTTP connection and then you would not be using the modem part of it and only the router section of that modem router, some like FritzBox are particularly designed for this multiple way of connecting and support multiple versions of internet connection.

In our house we have 2 routers and a 16 port switch to suit all our connectivity as we have FTTP.


So that was a yes, I think.


Yes it was a yes to the second part ie “the limitations are due to the modem part not the router part of a modem-router”. That is depending on your NBN type of connection there are a limited range of modems you can use.

Your first part of the question ie “if you use the NBN supplied modem the scope of routers that you can connect to it is much greater” is a sort of No or more properly the explanation covers the detail of why it is not really correct and the amount & scope of routers you can connect are not really limited in either NBN or other ways of connecting to the Net.


The latest review of NBN modem routers provided by the ISPs isn’t encouraging.

Two questions:

  1. are the scores in this month’s NBN modem routers reviews directly comparable with those of the wireless routers tested in 2017?

  2. are you required to use a modem router provided by the ISP or can a third party unit be used?



No idea about articles testing NBN modems, however regarding using your own modem, generally yes you can use any NBN capable modem, However I believe (not from experience; I haven’t had a landline phone in over 10 years) if you want to keep your landline phone you sometimes have to stick with the provided modems (e.g. if with Telstra). Not having a landline phone, we kept using our old Telstra NBN capable modem when we switched from ADSL to the NBN with Aussie Broadband, and it worked just fine.


It may be important here for Choice in responding to clarify what the NBN supplies for each type of service. And also qualify which RSP’s will support user supplied modems. The online advice suggests you cannot have a home phone service from the NBN unless you use their modem.

FTTN, FTTC and FTTB require a VDSL modem. The common NBN and RSP preferance may be for them to provide the modem.

FTTP, FW, Satellite, HFC the NBN/RSP provides a NTD which eliminates the need for a user supplied modem. Still may require a router, with many of us able to reuse an existing router if it has a suitable uplink port. Caveate on a home phone service unless the RSP provides the router.

There is a detailed Choice Wiki on the NBN services, rather than rely on my limited knowledge.


A landline numbert requires either a router with a VOIP function or a separate VOIP network box, not limited to the RSP’s supplied [apparently quite ordinary] modem/router.

The RSP wil provide all of the configuration details required. One difference from take what they offer or BYO is the technically disinclined could be more comfortable accepting the [quite ordinary] box from the RSP since it often comes pre-configured and there can be lots of settings for VOIP.

I have read, but thankfully have no personal experience with NBN yet, that some of the VOIP capable modems/routers do not have the best quality voice services compared to others, or to landlines, that being in addition to the variable QOS from the RSP VOIP servers. I regularly use Skype Phone and FB Messenger, both essentially VOIP, and most calls are very good to excellent but there are some pretty sad, sorry connections now and then, although over time my perception is the quality and consistency has generally improved.

Someone has to supply the modem, whether us or the RSP. Some of the MTM require NBN provided modems. A modem translates what is really an analogue signal into the digital world, and the modems for HFC, etc require VDSL routers to connect to the servers, and to ‘manage’ your local network be it one computer or a business-full, or they can connect to a single PC that functions as its own router.

It is common for VDSL modem to be incorporated in modem/routers, but HFC, Sat, and other technologies require different technology modems to account for the differing signalling systems. Some are not very forgiving (Skymuster for one) so the RSP demands you use their product since they claim to be able to support it for you.

The nuances of who provides what as explained by NBNCo are here.

No matter what your connection, it simplifies as being ‘the network’->its communications medium*->[a modem->router]->computer or local network.

* eg ADSL, FTTP, FTTN, HFC, SAT, pick your favourite alphabet mix.


I’ve noted the NBN link provides a succinct response, thanks.

The review by Choice referred to by @ShaneB from the terminology:

Are these reviewed devices all VDSL modems as well as routers?

Can all these devices operate as a router only using a digital uplink port?

Can any of these devices replace the NBN supplied modem on say an HFC service? No!

Or can I supply the cable modem for an NBN HFC service instead of using the NBN supplied device? I understand this is also a No?

For HFC as an example the NBN supplied connection box is a cable modem. The output is digital and the customer connected device does no Signal conversion. You only need to add a router supplied by the RSP or self?

The Choice review might make it a little clearer if there was a table to indicate what purpose each gateway is suitable for on each type of NBN service.

It may be useful to also compare or clarify any difference in performance functioning as a modem router vs router only using the uplink port?

The original enquiry from @ShaneB perhaps should have been qualified by the type of NBN service the enquiry related to?

Hence if you have FTTN as an example you can supply your own modem if it is NBN approved. As @PhilT indicates customers on HFC and sattellite, and also as I understand FW the modem technology being different is supplied by the NBN. I have yet to see a reference to any alternate approved modems you can install in place of the NBN supplied modem?

Note re phones: (this does not preclude use of any third party VOIP service)
On connecting to the standard replacement phone service provided with an NBN connection, iiNet advises:

Using a third-party router for NBN™ FTTC means that included NBN™ Phone service (and any calls) will not be available.

Perhaps this is not correct?


You will find my first link in the start of this thread has a link to a list of NBN compatible devices, including with VOIP ports. I cannot imagine that any of them would not work, and many others would also work so long as they met the required list of standards. If ‘The router’ were unique to NBNCo there would only be one product and all the RSPs would have to offer it. :wink:

Not an iinet customer, but this might explain some of it, it appearing to be their particular service not an issue with NBN.

In contrast here is Primus’ ‘welcome to NBN Guide’.

Edit:iinet has a nice page about configuring netphone :wink:

Edit2: It seems some of the RSPs ‘manage’ (eg validate) some services using the MAC address on the modem/router they supply. One can usually put that MAC address into a BYO device but at the possibility of it not working properly, not having any RSP support, and in the extreme experiencing the wrath of the RSP if their T&C prohibited a BYO device. There are isolated internet posts whereby the supplied equipment was claimed to be unstable and insufficient for a relatively complex home network and the RSP was not concerned with outcomes, only with their own list of supplied and supported equipment being used. Another case of caveat emptor as the icing on the cake topping off this government’s view of how good their version of the NBN is.


Re Combined NBN data and phone service with iiNet requiring an iiNet provided modem router:

Typical, there is no one single answer for any thing NBN, unless it is no NBN!
One more small challenge to take on.


We are with Internode and have had NBN for about 2 years and we are on their FTTN Gold 500 plan with a 500GB monthly data quota and a 50 Mbps speed.

We bought the Fritz!Box 7490 instead of the base model router and it has never missed a beat.

We consistently achieve close to 50 Mbps despite being 400 metres from the node and using copper that was noisy with the previous analogue home phone.

I have just run Ookla Speedtest again and achieved 47.58 Mbps download and 17.01 Mbps upload speeds.


Thanks, when it comes to NBN landlines I have no idea - I’ve dodged that bullet. I’d just recalled reading somewhere about people having a lot of trouble getting voice system credentials out of Telstra so they could use a non supplied modem, but I have no experience there myself.


There are indeed some RSPs who will not support BYO devices on their VOIP solutions even if the modem (modem is meant here as distinct from router) is seen as NBN ready. These RSPs encode their VOIP settings on their provided devices and will not release those details to be put on other devices. NBN ready just means that internet wise they are ready to be deployed on the NBN but does not mean they will be supported for VOIP services by a particular RSP.

Telstra have “in house” modems (as do some other RSPs) that have parts of the settings unable to be seen or adjusted by the end user and these settings include their VOIP settings. You can use any other modem that is “NBN Ready” and suited to the type of connection (eg FTTN or HFC modems) on your Telstra connection but getting your VOIP from them will be difficult if not impossible. If FTTP there is a difference here in that the VOIP connection is usually through it’s own port on the wall mounted device that terminates the Fibre connection and almost any phone that plugs in will be able to make calls (just have to use the port indicated by the RSP for telephone connection).


MODEM and CODEC terminology seems to be used interchangeably by salespeople; which is unfortunately misleading for people.

When the communication network being used is an analogue system (such as a traditional copper wire system or a coaxial cable system), a modem (modulator/demodulator) is needed to take digital data and change it to analogue (modulating the information onto the analogue carrier frequency); then at the other end another modem demodulates the signal to extract the digital data.

When the communication network being used is a digital system (such as an optic fibre system), a codec (coder/decoder) is needed to take analogue data (eg a telephone conversation) and change it to a digital signal; then at the other end another codec decodes the signal to recreate the analogue data.

For a “modem” to work for VoIP and have the ability to plug “any telephone” into it, the “modem” has to contain the codec functionality. Codec functionality that matches the codec functionality at the other end.

Most computer users are familiar with various codecs that may be used for audio and movies (eg MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-3, MPEG-4, DivX, CCDA, etc)

VoIP uses other codec standards - Whirlpool Forum informs me that “Most VoIP providers/hardware/licensed software will support G.711 and G.729 (However be sure to check this before purchasing hardware, or signing up with a VoIP provider!). The G.711 codec requires a connection almost 3 times faster than that required by the G.729 codec.”

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When I put MAC addresses into an iinet supplied ‘modem’ to use that security feature of the iinet modem it caused problems.
iinet technical support took me through (a) update the firmware steps, then (b) replace the iinet modem with a new iinet modem that was exactly the same make & model, then they suggested I run their modem without using that built-in security feature.


The MAC address I believe @PhilT was referring to is the MAC address of the modem/router not the MAC addresses of allowed devices on the LAN (this is indeed a security feature that is very worthwhile implementing if possible). You can alter the hardware MAC address by inserting a “software” MAC address into the modem/router so that it reports the address the provider is expecting rather than the real MAC of the device. Some people spoof MAC addresses on networks to carry out Man in the Middle attacks among a number of other undesirable practices, and this spoofing even if done to enable a service legitimately can be frowned upon by the RSPs. The spoofed MAC will generally be lost when a modem/router is “factory reset” unless a script is in place to re-enable that address change (which normally means a reprogram of the code of the firmware).


There was no obvious home for this comment, but some affinity.

I have a BYO D-Link DVA-2800. No worries with it in normal operation, but our electricity is a bit dodgy. There is normally no worries with everything rebooting (HFC cable modem and my routers). After the last power failure and some days later I got an incoming VOIP call, but the caller could hear nothing when I picked up, except that I picked up. Then silence. A reboot of the DVA-2800 and all was well again.

The purpose of the post is to reinforce how fragile VOIP can be, whether be it the NBN, the RSP, or the customer’s modem. Other than a fail during a call there is often no way to notice a problem, and the problem can be only to incoming and/or outgoing service, or as I discovered voice when answering although strangely all was well initiating a call.