Broadband speeds increase for all consumers but urban services still perform better

9 June 2022

Consumers in both urban and regional Australia who have fixed-line NBN services have seen a significant improvement in download speeds since November 2018, the ACCC’s latest Measuring Broadband Australia report shows.

Urban areas (cities with a population of 10,000 people) saw an improvement in all hours download speeds from 85.7 per cent in the 2018 report to 98.2 per cent of plan speeds in February 2022, while regional areas also improved from 83.7 per cent to 95.2 percent of plan speeds.

Chart 1. Average download performance by geography comparison

However, urban Australians on fixed-line NBN services continue to enjoy faster download and upload speeds than people in regional areas. In February 2022, on average, consumers in urban areas received 98.2 per cent of the expected download speed of their plan during all hours, compared to 95.2 per cent of plan speed for regional consumers.

Upload speed performance had a greater disparity, with urban consumers receiving 85.3 per cent of plan speed during all hours compared to 80.1 per cent for regional consumers.

“Regional fixed-line services have improved over the last four years, but still have some way to go to be on par with urban connections,” ACCC Commissioner Anna Brakey said.

Retailers’ speeds dropped in February

Across all of Australia, retail service providers’ average download and upload speeds during busy hours were between 84.4 and 102.4 per cent of plan speed in February 2022, a decline compared to the range of 95.1 and 103.3 per cent of plan speed in December 2021.

“Speeds are generally holding up well, however, most retailers experienced a small drop in speed in February during the busy evening hours,” Ms Brakey said.

Results during the busiest hour when networks are under the highest levels of stress, varied between 73 per cent and 100.6 per cent of plan speed. This is a decline from December 2021, when the range of speeds during the busiest hour varied between 91.5 per cent and 100.5 per cent of plan speed. 

NBN’s 100 Mbps download plans were most affected by increased user activity in the evening hours in February, with speeds typically dipping to 3.9 Mbps below the day’s maximum by 9pm. In December 2021, NBN100 speeds typically slowed by 2.5 Mbps.

Chart 2. Average hourly download speeds by hour of day for key NBN plans

 

Fixed wireless download performance declined in February

NBN fixed wireless performance declined in February, with download speeds during busy hours dropping 5.1 percentage points to 74.7 per cent of plan speed. During all hours, download speeds reached 92 per cent of plan speed which is 1.4 percentage points lower than December 2021. Upload speeds during busy hours dropped slightly to 47.2 per cent of plan speed, but all hours’ results improved by 2.3 percentage points to 61.3 per cent.

Chart 3. Average hourly download speed for the NBN Fixed Wireless Plus plans

Average download speeds for NBN Fixed Wireless Plus plans show considerable variation throughout the day, and typically decline during the evening to an average low of 32.7 Mbps by 9pm, before recovering to higher rates. NBN Fixed Wireless Plus plans are sold on a best-efforts basis with a maximum speed of 75 Mbps. The average download speed for the Fixed Wireless Plus plan was 36.8 Mbps during busy hours, 3.2 Mbps lower than December 2021.

Other superfast networks improve

This is the second Measuring Broadband Australia report to include results from the Uniti Group, which operates a number of superfast access networks through Opticomm and LBNCo. About 400,000 Australians connect to the internet through other superfast networks.

In February, average download speeds on Uniti’s fibre to the premises connections were 100 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 101.7 per cent of plan speed during busy hours.

Underperforming services continue to impact fibre to the node consumers

The proportion of fibre to the node connections that rarely record speeds above 75 per cent of their plan speed increased by 1 percentage point to 14 per cent of the ACCC’s sample in February.

“The ACCC has consistently called for NBN Co and retailers to improve these physical connections so that consumers on fibre to the node technology achieve speeds closer to their plan speed,” Ms Brakey said.

Measuring Broadband Australia testing provider appointed

The ACCC has reappointed SamKnows as the testing provider for the Measuring Broadband Australia program until June 2025. This reappointment follows an open tender procurement process that the ACCC commenced in November 2021.

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 over-provisions the downlink of some products by 10-15 per cent. The report explains that NBN Co does not currently over-provision 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 5 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 Federal Government funded the ACCC to run a national broadband performance monitoring and reporting program from 2017-25. The ACCC encourages other superfast access network operators to support the MBA program and contact the ACCC if interested in joining.

To sign up, visit Measuring Broadband Australia

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.

Release number: 
73/22
ACCC Infocentre: 

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

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