Broadband speeds strong but improvements needed for some

31 July 2018

The ACCC’s latest broadband speed data, released today, shows mainly pleasing, but some concerning, results. While most NBN fixed-line broadband customers are receiving relatively fast internet speeds, including during busy hours, which we strongly welcome, there is still an important number who are receiving poor service, including around 7% of consumers who receive less than half of the maximum speed of their plan.

This second ACCC Measuring Broadband Australia (MBA) report provides new data on the performance of NBN fixed-line services, expanding the report to cover six major ISPs - Aussie Broadband, iiNet, MyRepublic, Optus, Telstra and TPG.

Overall, 70 per cent of all tests continued to achieve download speeds of above 90 per cent of maximum plan speeds. This is largely in line with the results of the ACCC’s first Measuring Broadband Australia report.

Within this average, there remains considerable disparity in performance between ISPs with busy hour average speeds of between 74 and 88 per cent of maximum plan speeds. One ISP who was lagging the field, Optus, recorded an improvement on the previous report’s result, which illustrates the benefit of the MBA program.

Figure 1. NBN plan speed delivered during busy period1

Aussie Broadband New
iiNet 5.2%
MyRepublic New
Optus 2.6%
Telstra 8.2%
TPG 5.1%
Aussie Broadband New
iiNet 6.7%
MyRepublic New
Optus 14.0%
Telstra 7.0%
TPG 12.9%

[1] Busy period = 7.00pm to 11.00pm. = benchmark level 60%.   indicate % point changes compared with previous quarter's measurements.

In general, speeds did not reduce significantly in the busy hours (7-11pm) with speeds for most ISPs about 1 percentage point below speeds recorded across all hours, and the download speeds for MyRepublic reducing by 5 percentage points.

“Whilst we are pleased to see that most customers are able to get fast, reliable broadband services even during busy hours, we must focus our attention on those who do not have this experience,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

In each report, the ACCC explores a particular issue in more depth. This report looks at the impact that ‘underperforming services’ are having on overall download speeds. These services do not achieve speeds that approach the maximum plan speeds at any time of the day. Across the six ISPs, there is potential for speed results to improve by between 1.5 and 9.4 percentage points if these underperforming services instead reached close to the maximum plan speed.

“Overall, the results are encouraging, particularly when considering the significant recent migration of NBN customers to higher speed plans, where hard limits on individual connections to the network are more likely to impede services reaching their maximum speeds,” Mr Sims said.

Figure 2. Impact of underperforming services on download speed2


[2] A service is classifed as underperforming if over 95% of speed tests conducted achieved less than 75% of the maxmium plan speed.

However, the data highlights that there are areas for improvement and so should prompt further performance-based competition among the ISPs to close this gap for consumers.

“We urge providers to help customers obtain the full speeds associated with the plans they are acquiring. We also expect ISPs to inform customers of the speeds achievable on their network connections, and better match the plans they offer to those speeds. The recent court enforceable undertakings accepted by the ACCC will help with this,” Mr Sims said.

Optus, which last quarter performed at the end of the field, significantly improved its download speeds in this quarter. The speeds of the other three ISPs from the initial report declined slightly. The two new ISPs in this report book-end the field, with Aussie Broadband recording the highest speeds, and MyRepublic at the lower end of the range.

This quarter, the average download speeds recorded for the busy hours, as a percentage of maximum plan speed are: Aussie Broadband 88.3, iiNet 83.4, MyRepublic 74.4, Optus 83.3, Telstra 79.9, TPG 85.6.

In contrast, ADSL services delivered an average download speed of 6.7 Mbps in the busy hours.

For this report, testing of 25, 50, and 100 Mbps plans and ADSL services took place in May 2018 and involved around 800 NBN and ADSL services supplied by over 15 ISPs, using over 145,000 download speed tests. Results are statistically significant with a small sampling error.

The ACCC’s future reports will provide performance data about a broader range of NBN fixed-line services and include additional perspectives on the performance of fixed line broadband services.

The next report will be released later this year.

Testing devices are hosted by volunteers. Applications are still open. The ACCC encourages 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 (over four years) monitors residential NBN fixed-line 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 program has so far collected expressions of interest from over 10,000 potential volunteers, and has a growing testing panel of over 1000 volunteers in the field in readiness for the next quarter of testing.

Interested volunteers can apply to participate by signing up at: measuringbroadbandaustralia.com.au

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:

  • provides 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 program currently measures ISPs’ average speed performance against the maximum plan speed, aggregated across NBN 25, 50 and 100 Mbps plans and across NBN fixed-line technologies. The program does not report on NBN 12 Mbps 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: 
140/18
ACCC Infocentre: 

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Media team - 1300 138 917

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