Don't blame the NBN before you check these things.

Is it the NBN, or is it you?

Don't blame the NBN before you check these things.

We’ve all heard the horror stories about the NBN. The problems with the rollout have been documented widely. “It’s Slow” or “It doesn’t work”. But sometimes it’s just not the NBN’s fault.

We recently read an article a lady had written on a major news website (–if-you-pay-for-it-and-wait-long-enough-20171213-h03pmb.html) about how she had been given the run around when her wifi speed in her apartment wasn’t what she expected after the NBN was connected.

We see misinformation about the NBN. Everywhere.

A couple of things struck us about the article, not the least of which was the seemingly neverending stream of misinformation given to this person, by people that are supposed to know what they’re talking about.

Like this –

I still haven’t filled in his form, because our NBN connection, when we have it at all, is erratic, and often too weak even to bring up Google. I have spent hours on the phone, going back to the Telstra shop, and getting nowhere. My IT technician told me again: “You need a new laptop.” So I bought one. Nothing changed.

The simple reason for this is that while your computer may run slowly, it may take a while to open your browser, or react to your inputs, or load a page, that is NOT your internet speed itself. That’s the specs of your computer. But if you’re running a newish computer, and your internet is slow, it’s likely not your computer.

This drives us crazy, because all this person’s “IT technician” has done is line their pockets.

The NBN cannot make wifi go through walls

Then there’s this –

To get Wi-Fi, I have to take my laptop to the living room. When I take it back to my study, the connection dies. It’s like the way I used to listen to Radio Australia in New York in 1989, with a radio hanging on a coathanger out the window. Primitive. Like Australia’s NBN.

Here’s a fact. The NBN, no matter how fast it is when it gets to your home, has nothing to do with your wifi IN your house. It just doesn’t. The NBN delivers internet to your house. To the modem. What happens from there is up to the gods of your modem, and of physics. Wifi doesn’t deal well with walls. Any walls. So if you’re getting poor wifi in your bedroom at the other end of the house to your modem, don’t go blaming the NBN just yet.

Caveat: A decent modem WILL improve your wifi reception over an el-cheapo one (and of course if you’re using a modem that isn’t compatible with the internet connection you have, well, you’d be lucky to get a connection at all). Do your research. Buy a good one. But a wall is still a wall is still a wall.

Is it the NBN, or is it you?

So how do you test if it’s your NBN connection that’s to blame for all that Netflix or Youtube buffering, or perhaps just your wifi?

Here are a couple of cheap and easy things you can do.

    • Move your computer closer to the wifi modem

As we said earlier, wifi doesn’t deal well with walls. Move your computer closer to your modem. If it’s your wifi, it should be faster.

    • Run a speed test

While many people argue the accuracy of speed testing sites like, one thing is for sure – they at least give you something to gauge by. Try the site using wifi from your bedroom, then from closer to the modem. If the result is the same, the problem lies with your wifi, not your NBN connection. That’s because these sites measure speed from your modem, not your computer.

    • Connect your computer directly to your modem using a LAN cable (if possible)

You should see the speed of your internet browsing improve markedly. That’s because you now have a direct connection between you and the internet.

    • As a last resort, TRY a different computer (but don’t BUY a new one just yet)

If you’re computer is running slowly to begin with then sure, it may be time for an upgrade. But any decent IT guy will want to monitor your computer first to see if you’re trying to do too much with what you have. A new computer is a fair chunk of coin and the reality is that even a computer that is a few years old now should be able to browse the internet and stream netflix (depending on specs, of course). We constantly monitor our clients’ computers for things like CPU and Memory usage, so we’re able to see immediately if an upgrade will help. Without having that, we won’t recommend a new computer.

And what can you do if you find it’s your wifi and not the NBN?

    • Ensure the wifi modem is placed as centrally as possible, and as high as possible

All things being equal, wifi signal will disperse evenly, down, and not through walls all that well. Try and place your modem in a high position, as centrally in your property as possible. Sometimes this isn’t possible though.

    • Wifi Extenders

Something like one of these (we don’t get commissions) work great. We like and use Netgear products around the home. They’re easy to set up and once done you should have great wifi where there wasn’t wifi before.

    • Ethernet over Powerline

As the name suggests, Ethernet over Power uses your existing power lines to carry your internet data traffic. Something like this will let you plug one end into your modem using a LAN cable, and the other end into a power outlet in another room, and extend the wifi that way. If you’re in a property with lots of walls, this may be the way to go.

Good advice is invaluable

And finally, find yourself an “IT Technician” and a managed service plan that you can trust. Like us, and ours.

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