Australian broadband has gotten faster during the pandemic

ACCC’s latest broadband report shows that providers achieved up to 98.5% of maximum plan speed on the NBN.

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The latest ‘Measuring Broadband Australia’ quarterly report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has found that delivered broadband speeds have gotten faster. That follows efforts by the Australian government and the broadband providers early in the COVID-19 pandemic to boost internet performance to support increased home usage by workers and students caused by the lockdowns.

In October 2020, retail services providers (RSPs) achieved between 84.8% and 98.5% of maximum plan speed on the National Broadband Network (NBN) during the busy hours of 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Users on NBN experienced an average download performance of 95.7% of plan speeds, down to 94.9% during the busy hours. The report for the previous quarter showed a lower average download performance of 88.5%, down to 87.6% during the busy hours.

Delivered broadband speeds have been increasing since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This increase in the average download speed is largely due to the NBN provisioning more connectivity virtual circuit (CVC) capacity for RSPs and to overprovisioning the download component of some speed tiers by about 10% to 15%. “This change is clearly evident in our results. Across October, 53.9% of NBN services we monitored had an average download speed higher than the plan speed,” the report said. The average upload performance ranged between 83.0% and 90.2% during all hours across RSPs.

More than 219,000 tests were performed across 1,223 white boxes connected to fixed-line NBN infrastructure, with 78.4% of tests showing a download speed of at least 90% of the plan’s download speed—an increase from 74.8% in the previous report. The report found that, on average, more than half of monitored NBN services exceeded the maximum specified download speeds specified by their plans.

Fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) services continued to be slower than other broadband technologies, the report found:

  • In the 50MBps down/20Mbps up NBN speed tier, FTTN services had an average download speed of about 5Mbps lower than other technologies.
  • In the 100Mbps NBN speed tiers, FTTN services had an average download speed about 17Mbps lower than other technologies.

“Although most consumers have already benefited from increased download speeds, those on FTTN connections are continuing to experience lower-than-expected speeds,” said ACCC Chair Rod Sims. “We encourage NBN Co. and the RSPs to work to resolve this, especially given the additional investment in FTTN services announced by NBN Co, in September.”

The report found that most service outages took no more than three minutes, which means they have small impact on user experience. MyRepublic, Telstra, Vodafone, and Aussie Broadband were the RSPs with the largest number of outages lasting more than 10 minutes.

The report also concluded that if all underperforming services and impaired services had been remediated—or moved to a more appropriate plan—then all RSPs would have average speeds that exceeded advertised speed claims during their busiest hours. Still, “good progress has already been made on addressing this issue, with the proportion of underperforming services in our sample falling from 13.9% in May 2018 to 8.1% in October 2020,” Sims said.


Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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