NBN speeds mostly steady, but improvements needed

Fixed-line NBN customers received generally good levels of service during the latest round of ACCC broadband speed tests, but some consumers experienced a dip in speeds.

The ACCC’s latest Measuring Broadband Australia report, released today, expands the number of retail service providers (RSPs) to include Dodo, iPrimus and Exetel, enabling the report to cover a wider range of price points.

The performance of most RSPs remained steady across the busy evening hours of 7pm to 11pm, but TPG and iiNet experienced a decline in download speed performance compared to the previous quarter.

Download speeds during the busiest hour – when RSP networks were under the most stress during the 30-day testing period – were significantly lower than at other busy times.

The performance of different RSPs in managing this congestion varied considerably, ranging from 71.8 per cent of the maximum plan speed to as low as 48.3 per cent.

The ACCC believes the drop in speeds may have resulted from retailers migrating their customers to new wholesale NBN products launched in October.

“It is good to see that providers have generally managed the transition to NBN Co’s new wholesale products without too much impact on customers,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“We will await the next round of speed testing results with interest, to see if providers have improved their performance.”

Underperforming services, which represent about 13 per cent of all tested connections and are mostly fibre to the node (FTTN), continued to significantly impact the overall download speed results.

These services never come close to delivering the maximum speed promised, because of either limitations with some FTTN lines, or connection issues such as in-house wiring faults.

“We encourage customers who aren’t getting the maximum speeds to contact their internet service provider to ask whether the problem can be fixed or about moving onto a cheaper plan,” Mr Sims said.

This report includes, for the first time, a breakdown of speed results by NBN technology, reporting the performance of fibre to the premise (FTTP), FTTN and hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) networks.

The results show FTTP and HFC services deliver about 86 per cent to 87 per cent of maximum plan speeds at busy hours, compared to about 79 per cent for FTTN. However when underperforming services are removed, the results are comparable for all technologies, at almost 88 per cent. This demonstrates that with further work, many more FTTN customers could expect to see similar speeds on their current plans as customers on other NBN technologies.

All the NBN broadband technologies are currently delivering a faster broadband experience than ADSL, where the average speed is just 8.5 Mbps during busy hours.

“We expect NBN Co and RSPs’ focus to remain on fixing speed-related problems and ensuring consumers receive good speeds on their current plans, regardless of which NBN fixed-line technology is supplied to them,” Mr Sims said.

While the increased number of volunteers for the Measuring Broadband Australia program has allowed the ACCC to report on broadband speeds on a wider range of retailers, more participants are needed.

“The more volunteers that sign on, the more extensive and detailed information we can provide Australians to help them make informed decisions about NBN services,” Mr Sims said.

“We are especially in need of consumers with small RSPs or on lower speed plans, so please head to our website to sign up.”

Broadband customers can apply to be a volunteer by signing up at: https://measuringbroadbandaustralia.com.au/

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Measuring Broadband Australia report

Broadband speed information for consumers