Differences in RSP download speeds are growing

7 November 2019

Optus has delivered the highest percentage of maximum download speeds during the busy evening period, ahead of TPG, which was the fastest retail service provider (RSP) for download speeds in five previous ACCC reports.

All RSPs delivered average NBN download speeds of between 76 per cent and 87 per cent of maximum plan speeds during the high-demand evening hours in August 2019, the latest ACCC Measuring Broadband Australia report, released today, shows.

Exetel, Optus and Telstra improved their speed test performance during the busy hours of 7pm to 11pm, while the other RSPs saw speeds decrease slightly compared to the previous quarter. NBN services continue to outperform ADSL services.

Consumers on NBN plans with a maximum speed of 12 and 50 Mbps experienced small speed lifts during the quarter. Consumers on NBN 12 Mbps plans received an average download speed of 10.8 Mbps during the busy hours, slightly higher than the 8.0 Mbps download speed observed when averaging busy hour results for each volunteer on ADSL connections.

“We are seeing significant differences in download speeds during busy hours between RSPs offering NBN broadband plans,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“This shows how RSP performances can vary, and why it pays for consumers to do their research. We encourage consumers to compare the busy hour speed claims made by RSPs with their real-world performance, as set out in the Measuring Broadband Australia results, especially if they are paying more in the expectation of faster broadband speeds.”

The report shows that most RSPs delivered average download speeds that exceeded their advertised speeds in all or almost all of the 120 busy hours that fell within the test period.

The exception to this was Dodo/iPrimus, which bases its advertised speeds on averaged evening data rather than on speeds delivered when its network is very busy.

“We will be following this up with Dodo/iPrimus as this approach means it will fall short whenever its speeds dip, as they did this quarter,” Mr Sims said.

“Consumers should be able to trust RSPs to meet their advertised speed claims.”

“If consumers are not getting what was promised by their providers, they should contact them to ask about getting the problem fixed or moving onto a cheaper plan where the speeds are attainable.”

Outage rate and duration by access technology

Today’s Measuring Broadband Australia report shows the frequency and duration of outages experienced by different access technologies.

Hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) connections experienced the highest average daily outage rate, recording one every two to three days. HFC connections also recorded long outages of more than three minutes more often than other technologies.

This level of outages may reduce when NBN services are not being added at significant volume, and legacy services no longer occupy some of the HFC network capacity.

Consumers on fibre to the node (FTTN) connections experienced slightly fewer outages, although most lasted for more than three minutes.

Fibre to the premises (FTTP) connections generally recorded few outages of more than 30 seconds, and most of these lasted for less than three minutes.

Connections never achieve maximum plan speeds

This report shows that consumers can never make full use of their plan speed even outside busy hours, with NBN speed tests never exceeding much more than 95 percent of the plan speed. This is the case for all NBN speed tiers.

This is because headers, or tags, are added to consumers’ communications when they are sent over a network, to ensure the communications are sent to the right network addresses.

The current capacity does not appear to allow for this extra data, preventing the communications from being sent at the maximum plan speed.

NBN Co could resolve this if it allowed services to run five percent faster before enforcing speed limits.

The proportion of underperforming services, services that never come close to reaching their maximum plan speed, dropped from 12.4 per cent to 11.4 per cent of all tested connections and almost one in four FTTN connections on 50 and 100 Mbps plans.

This shows that NBN Co and RSPs appear to be making some progress on this issue, although a significant number of FTTN consumers continue to be impacted by these services, which rarely record speeds better than 75 per cent of their maximum plan speeds at any time of day.

Western Australia continues to have the highest rate of underperforming services, and also experienced more material reductions in busy hour speeds this quarter.

Becoming an MBA volunteer

The ACCC continues to seek more volunteers for the Measuring Broadband Australia program to provide more detailed information and to expand the range of RSPs and speed plans it reports on.

“Our volunteers have made a valuable contribution to improving the amount of information that is now available for Australians to make informed decisions about their broadband services,” Mr Sims said.

“We particularly encourage consumers on smaller RSPs or the lower speed plans to register their interest to volunteer.”

Fixed-line broadband customers can apply to be a volunteer by signing up at: https://measuringbroadbandaustralia.com.au/

Notes to editors

The report demonstrates the performance of NBN fixed-line services for eight major RSP groups. Testing of 12, 25, 50, and 100 Mbps plans and ADSL services took place over 31 days during August 2019 and involved more than 1,200 volunteers on NBN and ADSL connections. The previous testing period was May 2019. Results are statistically significant with a small sampling error.

See also

Measuring Broadband Australia report

Broadband speed information for consumers

More information: Measuring Broadband Australia

Fixed-line broadband customers can apply to be a volunteer by signing up at: https://measuringbroadbandaustralia.com.au/

Background

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

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 more than 10,000 potential volunteers, and has a growing testing panel of more than 1000 volunteers in the field.

Figure 1. NBN plan speeds delivered during busy hours and the busiest hour

Aussie Broadband -1.1%
Dodo & iPrimus -4.0%
Exetel +2.0%
iiNet -1.6%
MyRepublic -0.8%
Optus +2.1%
Telstra +0.7%
TPG -0.4%
Aussie Broadband -3.5%
Dodo & iPrimus -6.5%
Exetel +8.6%
iiNet -2.5%
MyRepublic -0.4%
Optus +2.6%
Telstra -1.9%
TPG -2.3%
Aussie Broadband +0.1%
Dodo & iPrimus -1.8%
Exetel +0.4%
iiNet -0.4%
MyRepublic +0.8%
Optus +2.9%
Telstra +1.5%
TPG +2.0%
  • Busy hours = 7.00pm to 11.00pm.
  • Busiest hour = Fifth lowest hourly average speed out of all the month's busy hours for each RSP. The busiest hour calculation method was revised in May 2019. Busiest hour results are not comparable with those published in Feb 2019.
  • = Benchmark level 60%.
  • +- Percentage point changes compared with previous quarter's measurements.
  • Percent of maximum plan speed.

Figure 2. Potential speed excluding results that are unable to achieve maximum plan speeds during busy hours

  • indicates the boost to average speed if services not able to achieve maximum plan speeds were excluded from the overall results. These services include NBN FTTN connections not capable of delivering 50 Mbps. If you are a customer on a service that does not deliver expected speeds, contact your provider to identify whether your connection could be fixed by a technician or if you can change to a different, likely cheaper, plan.

Figure 3. NBN and ADSL plan speeds delivered during busy hours by technology

  • All results
  • Potential speeds that could be delivered when excluding results that are unable to achieve maximum plan speeds
Release number: 
207/19
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