Australia's broadband speeds: first report

29 March 2018

The ACCC today released the first results from its broadband speed testing program, which show NBN broadband services from iiNet, Optus, Telstra and TPG are now delivering between 80 and just over 90 per cent of the maximum plan speeds in the evening busy hours.

The report, part of the ACCC’s Measuring Broadband Australia program, found these busy hour speeds (between 7 and 11pm) are now only marginally below typical speeds at other times.

“These first test results are better than expected, and indicate the majority of internet service providers are now delivering very close to their maximum plan speeds,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

But the report also found five per cent of services tested operated at less than 50 per cent of their maximum plan speeds.

“The results for some types of services are still lower than we would like, but the overall results go against the current wisdom that the majority of consumers and businesses are having issues with NBN speeds,” Mr Sims said.

“The relatively high average speeds during peak periods indicate to us that retailers are now providing enough network capacity to meet demand in peak usage periods, including on the top speed plans.”

“Our results reflect significant and recent changes in the market, particularly the recent discounting by NBN Co of capacity charges and consequent take up of more CVC by retailers. They likely also reflect the effect of our speed advertising guidance and anticipation that our testing was soon to begin.”

“It is highly likely that just a few months ago these results would not have been anywhere near as good,” Mr Sims said.

Testing of 25, 50 and 100 Mbps plans and ADSL services took place in February and March 2018, and involved 400 NBN and ADSL services supplied by over 10 ISPs, reflecting 61,000 individual download speed tests. Results are statistically significant, including for the four largest retail brands named in the report.

The report shows three of the four major providers deliver download busy hour speeds between 88.1 and 90.7 per cent of maximum plan speed. (iiNet 88.6%; Optus 80.7%; Telstra 88.1% and TPG 90.7% – see charts below.)

Figure 1. NBN plan speed delivered during busy period

iiNet
Optus
Telstra
TPG
iiNet
Optus
Telstra
TPG

Note: Busy period = 7.00pm to 11.00pm. = benchmark level 60%.

NBN plan speed delivered during busy period
Retail Service Provider Download Upload
iiNet 88.6% 91.9%
Optus 80.7% 98.1%
Telstra 88.1% 86.7%
TPG 90.7% 97.9%

The report also reveals NBN 25Mbps plans, the standard to which NBN is instructed to build broadband services, significantly outperformed ADSL services. The average ADSL speed is 8Mbps compared with an average of 22-23Mbps for NBN 25Mbps plans.

Figure 2. Average NBN and ADSL download speeds during busy period

NBN fixed line ADSL
Average NBN and ADSL download speeds during busy period
Technology Product Download
NBN fixed line 100/40Mbps 87.97Mbps
50/20Mbps 44.34Mbps
25/5Mbps 21.52Mbps
ADSL 12/1Mbps 7.99Mbps

FTTN connections that could not support the maximum plan speed were a factor that brought down the average speeds overall. The ACCC expects averages will improve further as service providers act on court-enforceable undertakings and adopt the ACCC advertising guidance to ensure customers are provided with plans that do not exceed the maximum attainable speeds of their individual connection.

“We know that there are customers who are not getting the speeds that are being advertised. We hope that the transparency and the regularity of our broadband speed reports will encourage all retailers to ensure their customers are getting what they are paying for,” Mr Sims said. 

As the NBN rollout continues, the ACCC’s future reports will provide information on a broadening range of services, including a regional/metropolitan comparison. The next reports will be out in the second half of 2018, with testing expanding to cover 2000 NBN and ADSL services by the end of year.

Testing devices are hosted by volunteers and the ACCC is still encouraging consumers to join the program so an increasing range of ISPs and products are included in the program.

More information

Broadband speed information for consumers

Measuring Broadband Australia report

More information about Measuring Broadband Australia is available on the ACCC website.

Background

About Measuring Broadband Australia

In April 2017 the Federal Government announced that it would fund the ACCC to implement an independent national broadband performance monitoring and reporting program to provide Australian consumers with accurate and independent information about broadband speeds through to 2021.

The $6.5 million program monitors residential fixed broadband speeds, reaching a maximum of 4000 Australian homes in its final year, publishing results periodically throughout.

Program testing and data is provided by UK-based firm SamKnows using internationally tested methods similar to those used in established programs in the UK, US and Canada.

The ACCC has so far collected expressions of interest from over 9,000 potential volunteers, and has a growing panel of over 600 volunteers online in readiness for next quarterly testing.
Potential volunteers can still register their interest on the ACCC website:

The ACCC needs a representative volunteer panel made up of the right mix of services to ensure the data is reliable and useful to a broad range of consumers, so not everyone who expresses interest will be able to participate in the program.

The program:

  • addresses a lack of independent, verified, comparable and reliable data to assist consumers to shop around for broadband services, and provides transparency over retail and network level performance
  • tests and reports on the real-life performance of retail fixed broadband service using statistically sound methods to ensure testing and reporting is representative of a range of ISPs, plans, technologies and locations, and
  • uses hardware devices called Whiteboxes installed in volunteers’ homes around the country, and testing methods which ensure results best reflect the real-life end-user experience, and quarantine results from factors known to impact other testing methods, e.g. software-based testing.

The initial broadband measuring report did not test NBN 12Mbps maximum speed plan services as these are designed to replicate ADSL only.

Recent ACCC action on broadband speeds

Consumer issues in the provision of broadband services, including addressing misleading speed claims and statements made during the transition to the NBN, remain an ACCC compliance and enforcement priority in 2018.

The ACCC has taken investigation and enforcement action in 2017-18 on speed advertising, and reached court-enforceable undertakings regarding speed advertising with eight internet service providers.

In 2017 the ACCC issued its Broadband Speed Claims Industry Guidance, which assists ISPs to provide accurate information to consumers. Our information for consumers helps customers know what to expect from providers.

Release number: 
55/18
ACCC Infocentre: 

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