Broadband download speeds improve but upload speeds remain flat

9 August 2022

Australians who get their broadband through NBN fixed-line connections experienced slightly faster download speeds in May 2022 than they did in February 2022, the ACCC’s latest quarterly Measuring Broadband Australia (MBA) report shows. Fixed-line connections are those that have a physical line running to the property, such as fibre to the premises or fibre to the node.

In May 2022, retail service providers’ average download speed performance was 99.3 per cent of plan speed during all hours (compared to 97.9 per cent in February), and 97.6 per cent of plan speed during the busy hours of 7-11pm (compared to 96.5 per cent in February). 

Retailers’ average upload speed performance on NBN fixed-line connections in May 2022 was 85.6 per cent of plan speeds during all hours, compared to 84.7 per cent of plan speeds in February 2022.

Chart 1. Average download and upload performance results for NBN fixed line services

“Download speeds have improved for many consumers over the last two years because NBN Co overprovisions the download component of some plans,” ACCC Commissioner Anna Brakey said.

“Upload speeds are more substantially below maximum plan speeds because NBN Co doesn’t overprovision the upload link.”

The ACCC believes that NBN Co implementing overprovisioning of the upload component would be an efficient way to boost upload speeds.

“Upload speeds are important to consumers working or studying from home, or using cloud applications such as photo storage,” Ms Brakey said.

The ACCC’s reports show there has been no significant improvement in upload speed performance since early 2020.

This report also shows that download speeds dropped almost three percentage points during the busiest hours of the day compared to the all-hours average. This reflects retailers rationing the network capacity that they acquire during these times of higher demand, which results in poorer speeds.

As well as monitoring the performance of NBN plans, the MBA program also measures Uniti Group’s superfast networks that operate through Opticomm and LBNCo.

In May, average download speeds on Uniti’s fibre to the premises connections were 99 per cent of plan speed during the busy evening hours. In comparison, NBN’s fibre to the premises connections continued to experience slightly higher average download speeds of 102.8 per cent of plan speed during busy hours.

“NBN’s fibre to the premises services have slightly better download and upload performance than Uniti’s fibre to the premises services. But when you compare Uniti’s fibre to the premises services with all NBN fixed-line services, Uniti performs slightly better,” Ms Brakey said. 

All Uniti fixed-line services are fibre to the premises, whereas NBN fixed-line also includes fibre to the node, fibre to the building, fibre to the curb and hybrid fibre coaxial.

Fixed wireless broadband performance improves

NBN fixed wireless services also improved in May 2022, delivering 77.6 per cent of plan speed during busy hours compared to 74.7 per cent in February. During all hours, performance reached a record high of 101.5 per cent of plan speed, compared to 92 per cent in February. This was driven by a broad improvement in performance across NBN Fixed Wireless Plus services.

Chart 2. Average download and upload speeds for fixed wireless

NBN ‘Ultrafast’ plans

The report shows a small drop in the performance of NBN very high speed services (known as NBN ‘Ultrafast’) in May 2022. Consumers on Ultrafast plans received average download speeds ranging between 820 Mbps during the day and 659 Mbps during the busy evening hours, compared to 823 Mbps and 694 Mbps in February.

Home Ultrafast plans are those where the wholesale product sold by NBN Co to retailers has a download speed range of 500-990 Mbps.

Underperforming services decrease slightly

The proportion of underperforming services in the ACCC’s NBN fixed-line sample decreased from 7.1 per cent in February 2022 to 6 per cent in May 2022.

Note to editors

The goal of Measuring Broadband Australia quarterly reports is to increase transparency and encourage greater performance-based competition and better internet performance throughout the country.

Maximum plan speed refers to the download data rate associated with the retail NBN plan. For example, on an NBN100 plan, the nominal maximum download speed is 100 Mbps. It is possible for consumers to receive this speed, or slightly above, as NBN Co overprovisions the downlink of some products by 10-15 per cent. The report explains that NBN Co does not currently overprovision the upload component of NBN speed tiers.

NBN fixed-line services and NBN fixed wireless services utilise different technologies that are not directly comparable in terms of performance. The quality and maximum speed of a fixed wireless connection is often more variable than fixed-line technology. More information on fixed wireless performance can be found on the ACCC website.

Underperforming services are services which reach above 75 per cent of plan speed in no more than five per cent of download tests. These service rarely or never attain plan speed.

The ‘busiest hour’ metric refers to the fifth lowest hourly average speed out of all the month's busy hours for each RSP.

Background

The ACCC encourages other superfast access network operators to support the MBA program and contact the ACCC if they are interested in joining. The Federal Government funded the ACCC to run a national broadband performance monitoring and reporting program from 2017-25.

Data for Measuring Broadband Australia is provided by UK-based firm SamKnows using methodology based on established speed testing programs in the UK, US, Canada and New Zealand.

To sign up, visit Measuring Broadband Australia

Release number: 
103/22
ACCC Infocentre: 

Use this form to make a general enquiry.

Media enquiries: 
Media Team - 1300 138 917, media@accc.gov.au

Tags

Audience