If the Australian government’s going to spend over $50 billion on the nation’s largest ever infrastructure project, you’d hope it’s going to be worth signing up for.

This is exactly how much money we’re estimated to spend on funding the National Broadband Network (NBN) by 2020.

But many Australians are still in the dark about what NBN is, how it’s going to work and whether it’s going to be a good thing moving forward.

Are you one of them? It pays to be informed before signing up to any new product or service, so we’ve covered some of your most common frequently asked questions (FAQs).

What is the NBN?

The NBN is a new network that aims to provide all Australian homes and businesses with a fast and reliable connection to the internet.

It’s been designed to keep Australians at the forefront of internet technology, by replacing older, dated systems with new and advanced infrastructure.

As the modern world evolves, it’s become clearer than ever that most Australians need internet to thrive in today’s society.

Is the NBN available to everyone?

While the rollout of the NBN has officially begun, not all neighbourhoods have access just yet. But many people have received notice that the NBN is now available in their areas and have signed up through their providers.

If you’re not sure if the network is available to you, simply enter your address in this handy broadband search tool to find out.

You can also request information from your current internet provider.

Is this going to be pricey?

One of the more pressing concerns Australians have with the NBN is the possibility that it may be more expensive than their current internet plans.

In the current economic climate, many of us would rather suffer a slower internet speed than fork out extra dollars on a more sophisticated connection.

However, the NBN won’t necessarily cost you more than your current broadband plan. The Government has a stake in controlling the wholesale pricing to ensure that everyone can have a fair go. This should prevent suppliers from inflating their NBN services.

What will I be paying for exactly?

While NBN does cover the cost of connection and any infrastructure needs, you’ll still have regular monthly service fees charged by your internet provider.

You may also need to pay your provider an installation or hardware fee, but this depends on the sort of contract you select. You can have a conversation about this with a customer service representative prior to setup to ensure you’re not going outside of your budget.

It’s also worth noting that if you live in a new house that has never before been connected to a telecommunications service, the NBN will charge your provider a $300 fee. This could add to your setup cost.

I don’t like the sound of all these costs…

Like with most internet or phone plans, there’s a great degree of flexibility in the type of NBN connections being offered.

What you require will likely depend on your average use of the internet. Good questions to ask yourself include: how much data do I need? How fast do I need my connection to be? Which provider am I willing to go with? How much am I willing to spend per month on this?

This will help you select a monthly plan that works for you.

You may even find that your new NBN connection costs you the same as your current plan, or perhaps even lower.

OK. What are the details?

If NBN is available in your area, you’re best advised to speak to your current internet provider about your options.

But generally, plans on the lower amount of data (100GB) incur about $40 per month. For higher speed and unlimited data, you could be paying $70 or higher.

As a rule, the more data and speed you need, the more you’ll likely pay for NBN.

How fast is the NBN?

You’re given a choice of four different speed options. [LD8]

Are you someone who likes to download a lot of videos or stream music from the internet? If so, you may be looking at the highest speed option.

Alternatively, if you only ever use the internet to read emails or check the news, then you may only need the lowest speed option.

These are the four NBN speed tiers:

  • NBN 12 / Basic Evening Speed: Up to 12Mbps download / Up to 1Mbps upload
  • NBN 25 / Standard Evening Speed: Up to 50Mbps download / Up to 20 Mbps upload
  • NBN 50 / Standard Plus Evening Speed: Up to 50Mbps download / Up to 20Mbps upload
  • NBN 100 / Premium Evening Speed: Up to 100Mbps download / Up to 40Mbps upload

The reason why the word ‘evening’ is used, is because this refers to the time when most people are using the internet nationwide. ‘Evening Speed’ refers to the typical speed you may expect on your connection when everyone else is online, normally between the hours of 7pm and 11pm.

But there’s flexibility between these tiers. ‘Speed boosts’ may be purchased, usually at around $10 or more per month.

Is NBN a requirement?

While some Australians might welcome faster, better internet, many of us are still happy with what we’ve got.

Right now, you are not required to choose to connect to the NBN.

But eventually, if it’s not already, your neighbourhood will be ready for NBN. This will begin with initial prompts from your provider to do the switch, and then graduate into you needing to change your plan.

You can put it off for about 18 months after your area has been upgraded. After this point, existing landline and ADSL broadband services will be switched off.

It’s advisable that you don’t leave this to the last minute, to avoid the possibility of going without internet during your transition period.

The NBN might have had some negative coverage, but people are often resistant to change. At the end of the day, new technology can take a little bit of time to stabilise and integrate within our lifestyles.

But a fast, reliable internet connection is an important feature in a modern 21st century economy like Australia.

And once we’re all on board (or should we say – online!), it might be hard to remember what life was like without it!