Best NBN-ready modem routers in Australia

With the aim of covering over 60% of the country by 2020, NBN Co is rolling out its broadband service to an average of about 250,000 premises each month. 

Once connected, customers can enjoy blazing-fast speeds of up to 100Mbps for gaming, streaming their favourite shows and movies, or just plain ol’ ‘net surfing, especially on the faster fibre to the node/basement (FTTN/FTTB) or fibre to the distribution point/curb (FTTdp/FTTC) connections.

The faster speeds of FTTN or FTTdp connections will require a router that can process a lot more data at a faster rate, which a lot of traditional ADSL routers may not be able handle.

If you get hooked up to a fibre to the premises (FTTP) connection, then your old ADSL router should do the trick, as long as it has a gigabit Ethernet WAN port (which most current DSL routers have), but you still need to make sure it can support the increase in speed.

For anyone on a hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) connection, this would use your original cable internet setup, so your old cable modem router might suffice. On the other hand, fixed wireless and satellite NBN connections will have their own equipment installed, with internet accessible via 4G.

So if you’re planning on making the switch to the national broadband service and you know you’ll be hooked up to a FTTN/FTTB or FTTdp connection, we’ve rounded up some of the best modem routers you can get to set up your home network.

ASUS DSL-AC68U AC1900 Dual-Band ADSL/VDSL Gigabit Wi-Fi modem router 

(around $300)

Even though it’s been kicking around for a few years now, the DSL-AC68U remains ASUS’ most advanced ADSL product.

A big part of that comes from the ASUS WRT firmware, which is the best in the business.

Based on open-source OpenWRT firmware, ASUS has modified it to be both easy to use and very capable. It supports VPNs out of the box, both client and server. 

The router can work with ADSL, VDSL and fibre, and is especially great in bandwidth-hungry households. It can support up to 1,900Mbps, perfect for 4K streaming and gaming.

It has per-user traffic monitoring, capable time-based parental controls and support for using a USB LTE modem as a primary or secondary WAN (with failover and load balancing).

It also plugs into ASUS’ AiCloud service, allowing you access to the content of a drive attached to its USB 3.0 port remotely.

For all its capabilities, it manages to be straightforward to set up and use, with an attractive mobile app to get it configured quickly. The mobile app even allows access to some of the more advanced capabilities, although if you want to really get down in the weeds with VPNs and the like, you’ll need to log onto a main admin console.

($500)

With the Taipan AC3200, D-Link has added what it calls ‘Whole Home Wi-Fi’, a kind of mesh-lite networking technology. D-Link routers and range extenders marked with this label can form a mesh-like network with proper roaming and a single shared SSID – meaning you can move around your house, between access points and routers, without losing the connection or having to reconnect to a second network.

To meet speed demands, the Taipan depends on its 1GHz dual-core processor and its tri-band technology. 

If you’re connected to the NBN, or will soon upgrade to the national broadband service, this will suit you well, but bear in mind there is no phone or VoIP support.

The updated firmware from D-Link is very good, and boasts some advanced capabilities like VPN support, OpenDNS-based parental controls and remote access to attached USB storage. The mobile apps are accessible as well.

AVM Fritz!Box 7490

($250)

Like the ASUS DSL-AC68U, the German-made AVM Fritz!Box 7490 may not be up to the latest Wave 2 wireless spec, but it’s still excellent. When it comes to telephony, there’s none better.

It’s one of a handful of extant routers that still supports integrated voice over IP. There’s a PSTN failover port in case of outages, a port for regular analogue phones and an integrated DECT base station, so you can sync cordless handsets directly.

There are multiple voicemail boxes, cloud-saved contact lists, alarms, automated wake-up calls and more. There’s even a mobile app that lets you make voice calls on your mobile phone using the VoIP service.

AVM’s firmware is great as well. It supports VPNs and a lot of advanced features.

You can assign one of the LAN ports as a WAN port, and there are capable access control and monitoring rules in place.

When it comes to an NBN connection, just plug it in and you’ll be all set.

Netgear Nighthawk D8500 tri-band Wi-Fi VDSL/ADSL modem router

(from $589)

If you’re looking for a modem router with the best possible specs, this is it. 

The new D8500 has specs to match any broadband router – tri-band AC5300 (2,166Mbps + 2,166Mbps + 1,000Mbps), six gigabit LAN ports with link aggregation, MU-MIMO support and USB 3.0 support for storage attachment. 

It also manages to be somewhat more compact and elegant than most AC5300 routers, since four of its eight antennae are internal.

There are a lot of things to love here. The LAN port link aggregation is a great idea – a lot of current NAS boxes have load-balanced dual Ethernet ports, and this allows you to take full advantage of it, with several devices able to access the NAS at full gigabit speed.

We also love the proper blacklist-based parental controls. It uses openDNS, which Netgear makes simple by integrating it right into the admin interface and mobile app.

And then there’s the wireless: it’s probably overkill for more homes. Like most tri-band routers, it automatically assigns devices to one of its wireless networks based on load and device type.

If you need a new router for when you get hooked up to the NBN via an FTTN or FTTP connection, you need look no further, but it does come at a price. The NightHawk retails for anywhere between $580 and $700.

($370)

TP-Link has struck an excellent balance with its new VR2600 modem router. It has premium wireless without going overboard like the Netgear Nighthawk (mentioned above), a nice suite of ports, capabilities and apps, and an ever-improving setup process that makes getting it up and running easier than ever.

It’s one of the few VDSL modem routers with support for MU-MIMO Wi-Fi baked in, and a 4x4 antenna array gives it plenty of bandwidth to work with.

Its peak physical rate is 1,766Mbps, which is plenty to serve high-definition media streams to four or more devices simultaneously.

It also has an Ethernet WAN port built in, and it makes good use of its twin USB 3.0 ports, with smooth DLNA streaming and support for USB LTE modems – with load balancing or failover to the LTE network.

It has time-based parental controls and can, of course, be set up with openDNS for blacklist-based controls.

One of the biggest areas of improvement for the TP-Link has been its mobile apps. In particular, the TP-Link Tether app gives you access to all of the router’s most important features, including parental controls, 3G/4G and security.

Overall, we think TP-Link is onto a winner here, with a great set of features without going nuts and completely NBN-ready.