NBN Glossary: Your handy guide to NBN related terms and acronyms


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The rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN) is an exciting time for all Australians. But while its great to learn all about the benefits the NBN has to offer, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the associated terms and acronyms.

That’s where your friendly NBN experts (that’s us!) are here to help.

We’ve compiled a list of the most common terms related to the NBN and provided a simple, jargon free description to help you understand everything from battery backups to VOIP!

Battery backup: This is an optional power supply for your NBN Fibre To The Premise connection box (also known as an NTD). This unit will power the data (internet) and voice (phone) ports on your NBN connection box if you have a power outage. However, unless your equipment has a separate backup power supply (such as a laptop or a battery powered phone) your NBN services will not work, even with a battery backup. To be on the safe side, we recommend using a mobile phone service in the event of an emergency.

CPE: Customer Premises Equipment. This includes your computer, modem, and wiring at your premises.

Disconnection Date: This is the date when your home is due for disconnection of legacy copper services (including phones lines). This happens approximately 18 months after NBN Fibre is active in your area. Don’t leave it until the last minute – make sure you enjoy the benefits of the NBN before this date. If you want to find out when your home is due for the copper switch-off, just enter your address here.

FTTB: Fibre To The Building. This is a type of internet connection that uses a mixture of the newer optical fibre technology and older copper lines. With FTTB, the fibre reaches the boundary of the building, such as the basement, and then copper connects from there to your home. This connection is most commonly found in apartment blocks.

FTTN: Fibre To The Node. This type of internet connection uses a mixture of the newer optical fibre technology and older copper lines. With FTTN, the fibre is connected to a street cabinet, and then copper lines connect from there to your home.

Cable: This is a type of internet connection that uses a mixture of fibre and coaxial cable. Also known as Hybrid Fibre Coaxial Cable or HFC. iiNet currently supply Cable services to areas in Geelong, Mildura, and Ballarat.

MDU: Multi Dwelling Unit. This is a home that is one of several units in a complex or apartment building.

Modem: To access the NBN with more than one device at a time, you’ll need a router/modem that can handle the mega-fast speeds of NBN. Never fear, iiNet sells NBN compatible modems like Budii Lite.

MTM: Multi-Technology Mix. The current NBN design  will use a mix of technologies to get high-speed broadband around the country faster and a reduced cost to the Australian taxpayer. Learn more in our article What is Multi-Technology Mix?

NBN: The National Broadband Network is a national network of communications infrastructure currently being built on behalf of the Federal Government. It’s designed to replace or upgrade Australia’s existing, ageing copper network, to improve the speed and quality of internet access all over the country.

NBN Co: NBN Co Limited is a company that was established by the Federal Government to build and operate the National Broadband Network.

NBN Connection Box: Also known as an NTD or Network Termination Device. This is the box that is installed in your home for an NBN Fibre to the Premises or Wireless service. It comes with four data ports, which means up to four NBN broadband connections can be installed in a single home. So you could have one for each person – no more fighting housemates for quota.

Fibre Phone: This is a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone service that works by connecting a phone handset to the voice port on your NBN Connection Box (NTD). This is only available on NBN Fibre to the Premises.

NBN Fixed Wireless: This is a type of internet connection that uses fixed transmission towers or base stations to communicate ‘over the air’ with your NBN installed equipment. ‘Line of sight’ from the tower to the equipment is required. Australia is a vast country with complex geography, so fixed wireless technology allows for access to NBN services in locations that are difficult to reach with the more common fixed-line technology.

NBN Satellite: This is a type of internet connection that uses satellite equipment installed at your home or business, to send and receive data via a satellite orbiting the Earth. This technology enables some of the more remote areas in Australia to connect to the NBN.

NBN Wait List: The NBN Wait List is an online register that will keep you up to date with all the latest NBN news including when it will come to your area. You can sign up to the NBN Wait List here.

NTD: Network Termination Device. This is another name for the ‘NBN Connection Box’. 

PCD: Premises Connection Device. Also known as the NBN utility box, it is installed outside your home, close to your NBN Connection Box (NTD) that is inside your home (as per the image below). Your PCD connects to the fibre-optic cabling from the street, allowing you to access the Internet.

PSU: Power Supply Unit. This is installed inside your home to power the NBN Connection Box (NTD). A low voltage cable will run the PSU to the NBN Connection Box (NTD).

RSP: Retail Service Provider – just like iiNet! In the same way that you can choose an Internet Service Provider (ISP) for your broadband connection, you’ll also need to choose an RSP when the NBN is rolled out in your area, so that you can get connected to all NBN-related products (including internet and phone).

VoIP: Voice over Internet Protocol. This is a type of phone service that uses your internet connection to connect you to others, instead of traditional copper lines. With Fibre Phone you can connect your handset via the UNI-V (Voice) port on your NBN Connection Box (NTD), and with Netphone you can plug it into the phone port on your VoIP-enabled modem/router.

Are there any other NBN related terms or acronyms that that you’d like to know? Let us know in the comments below.

For assistance on more generic terms related to the internet, we’ve previously written a very handy article on the iiNet Blog: Do you know your internet terms?

Photo Credit: Tim O’Brien


  1. Graeme Reid says:

    I have been a Westnet customer for several years after experiencing poor and confusing support from my previous ISP’s ( three of them to be precise). There were failures to keep promises made in contracts, there was poor support due to language barriers when using overseas help desks, and serious stuff ups in billing accounts. In nearly 7 years as a Westnet customer I have had only good experiences from support in assuring I have a plan that meets my needs, instant response to a modem problem, and a competitive ongoing fee structure despite being bombarded in my snail mail letterbox by Southern Phone and a relative who still believes he has a better deal and faster download rate. Please don’t change anything……… all works beautifully!

  2. Fletcher Thomas says:

    There are scam calls claiming that they can connect you to NBN, and claim that if you join their service, they will connect you as soon as the transaction is done. I know for a fact that I’m NOT in the NBN area to be connected at all, I checked and so have ii net. Not even close. The scamming telephonists are pushy, have Indian (ish) accents and do call many times a week. I just parrot that I know that I’m NOT in an NBN area, and stop calling. I know that ii net is more than happy to change my number for free, they know this problem. But I have reasons my reasons that this would be a major problem. But I would just like to say if anyone gets this call insisting that you have NBN in your area, even if you do, it’s a phone company that you’ve never heard of before an yes, this is a scam. Don’t tell them anything and stay safe with ii net :)

  3. Ken Galbraith says:

    Am I correct in saying that the only difference between a Fibre Phone” and a “NetPhone” is that the conversion hardware to convert from Analogue voice/speaker & vice versa to Digital voice/speaker is in the NTD for Fibre phone” and in the Modem-Router for the NetPhone ?

    • Tal Waterhouse says:

      Hi Ken,

      Very close, there are some other internal and networking factors on a network level for how the calls are routed. However when it comes to the equipment used, you’re certainly correct in that the NTD is equipped for Fibre Phone and the Modem equipment facilitates use of a Netphone VoIP service.

      – Tal

  4. Eric Leigh says:

    When will Landsdale Perth get NBN

  5. Simone says:

    So disappointed that I cannot get this service where I live.
    Only 11 km out of small town and no broadband, no NBN, just a tiny amount of expensive wireless connection.