Underperforming broadband services still a problem for some consumers

6 August 2019

Broadband speeds slowed slightly during the busy evening hours but overall results continue to be good, the ACCC’s Measuring Broadband Australia report, released today, reveals.

The sixth Measuring Broadband Australia report, however, also shows that 12.4 per cent of consumers continue to experience underperforming services that rarely come close to reaching their maximum plan speed.

These are services that achieve less than 75 per cent of their advertised speeds in almost all speed tests. Most of the affected consumers paid for NBN50 or NBN100 plans over Fibre to the Node (FTTN) connections.

These slower download and upload speeds are likely to be impacting consumers’ use of streaming, telecommuting, online gaming and using cloud services, for example to store or share photos and videos.

“We now want to see more action from both NBN Co and retail service providers (RSPs) to help the more than one in ten connections that simply do not perform to their plan speed,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“In many cases, these limited speeds are caused by in-home wiring issues that can be fixed with a visit from a technician.”

If these services were able to reach close to their advertised plan speed, RSPs’ download and upload speed results would improve by 2.0 to 6.8 percentage points in the busy hours, and their average upload speeds by 1.5 to 10.7 percentage points, the ACCC found.

The report contains, for the first time, download speed results for Fibre to the Curb (FTTC) connections, showing they achieved 88.9 per cent of maximum plan download speeds, or 91.5 per cent when underperforming services were excluded.

These results were broadly in line with results for Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) connections and HFC, and significantly above results for FTTN.

The report also tracks the rate of outages experienced by consumers, showing that program volunteers, on average, experienced an outage of more than 30 seconds every one to two days, a similar rate to the previous report.

Optus has investigated and addressed a technical problem that caused its customers to experience a much higher rate of outages, an average of 2.6 a day. This issue was uncovered and highlighted by Measuring Broadband Australia’s two most recent rounds of testing.

Recent additional tests suggests Optus' level of outages is now comparable to other RSPs.

Measuring Broadband Australia continues to make a vital contribution to fostering competition and improving consumer outcomes by bringing much-needed transparency to the broadband market,” Mr Sims said.

The ACCC is encouraging more Australians to sign up as volunteers for the Measuring Broadband Australia program, to broaden the coverage of the program and to ensure it continues to reflect experiences of consumers around the country as the NBN roll-out continues.

“This program would not be possible without the support of our volunteers Australia-wide who have agreed to host a whitebox on their home broadband connection,” Mr Sims said.

“Consumers whose service provider is not currently included in our reports are particularly encouraged to sign up.”
NBN fixed line residential services provided the following average download speeds in busy hours:

  •  100/40 services, 85.3 Mbps
  •  50/20 services, 41.3 Mbps
  •  25/5 services, 22.4 Mbps
  •  12/1 services, 10.7 Mbps

In comparison the average busy hour speeds from legacy ADSL services were 7.8 Mbps.

“It is very important that those consumers not yet wanting to pay for faster speeds can still gain access to a 12/1 plan at prices that had been available for ADSL services”, Mr Sims said.

State-by-state results

The latest Measuring Broadband Australia report is the first to contain download speed results by state and territory.

Results range from between 80.7 per cent to 87.8 per cent of maximum plan speeds during the busy hours. Tasmania had the highest download speeds, while the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and Western Australia (WA) had the highest rates of underperforming services and, therefore, the slowest average busy hour download speeds.

Busy hours speeds slow slightly

Most RSPs’ download and upload speeds decreased slightly during the busy hours compared to the previous quarter. The exceptions were MyRepublic and Optus, which improved their download and upload speeds during all hours as well as the busy evening hours.

RSPs delivered average download speeds of between 80.4 and 86.7 per cent of maximum plan speeds during the busy hours of 7pm to 11pm.

They delivered between 82.2 and 87.6 per cent of maximum plans speeds in all hours.

TPG achieved the highest percentage of its maximum download speed and Exetel posted the highest percentage of its maximum upload speed during all hours.

While most RSPs met their advertised speed claims during busy hours, Dodo, iPrimus and Exetel often did not.

“We will be discussing these results with Dodo/iPrimus and Exetel, including whether their advertised speed claims should be immediately revised in light of these results,” Mr Sims said.

The report shows the speeds data for NBN fixed-line services of eight major RSPs. Testing took place in May 2019 using a sample of 1095 volunteers.

Note to editors

The ACCC recently published a statement of expectations for RSPs, to ensure the program remains independent once RSPs become more involved in recruiting volunteers.

The statement sets out how the ACCC expects service providers to interact with the program.

See also

Measuring Broadband Australia report

Broadband speed information for consumers

More information: Measuring Broadband Australia

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 -0.6%
Dodo & iPrimus -1.4%
Exetel -2.4%
iiNet -0.3%
MyRepublic +2.9%
Optus +0.5%
Telstra -0.4%
TPG -1.6%
Aussie Broadband -0.4%
Dodo & iPrimus +4.8%
Exetel -8.9%
iiNet +2.0%
MyRepublic +4.0%
Optus +0.3%
Telstra +0.2%
TPG -1.8%
Aussie Broadband 0.1%
Dodo & iPrimus -3.5%
Exetel -2.3%
iiNet +0%
MyRepublic +0.8%
Optus +2.0%
Telstra -1.3%
TPG -0.2%
  • 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: 
138/19
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