Extensive testing of both NBN and ADSL services by the consumer watchdog has found very little difference between the speeds being achieved in regional versus urban areas.
The third quarterly instalment of the ACCC’s Measuring Broadband Australia report found that most of the major players have achieved an increase in their download speeds – and all are achieving more than 80 per cent of their maximum plan speeds.
SamKnows, on behalf of the ACCC, undertook testing of 25, 50 and 100 Mbps plans as well as ADSL services in August, covering a total of 950 services by 15 internet service providers (ISPs), with a total of 170,000 download speed tests carried out.
The tests found broad improvements in speeds, with only one of the top six providers having a fall in speeds for the quarter.
Nevertheless, it also found significant room for improvement. Only two-thirds (69 per cent) of all of those tests achieved speeds above 90 per cent of the maximum speed available under the relevant plan.
Just over one in every 14 tests (7 per cent) failed to reach even half of the maximum speed.
The ACCC said that NBN services are continuing to deliver faster speeds than ADSL services – averaging 22.7 Mbps during peak times on a maximum 25 Mbps plan, “three times the average busy hour download speed recorded for ADSL plans”.
According to ACCC chair Rod Sims, the internet industry as a collective is “working hard” to reach out to NBN customers whose connections are incapable of delivering the maximum speeds stipulated under the relevant plan.
“We encourage customers who aren’t getting the speeds they expected to contact their internet service provider to see if they need to change plans. We will continue to closely monitor the progress of industry in remedying this issue,” said Mr Sims.
A spokesperson for NBN Co simply stated: “NBN Co today welcomes the results from the ACCC Measuring Broadband Australia program, which reflects positive download speeds results for urban and regional areas”.
Regional areas almost on par with metro speeds
Interestingly, the testing suggests that services are almost on an equal footing between metropolitan, regional and rural areas.
“Urban services, which are those provided in towns with a population of over 10,000, receive higher speeds than regional services, but the difference is not significant, with those in urban areas receiving 84.8 per cent of maximum speeds on average compared with 83 per cent per cent of speeds in regional areas,” the ACCC said.
That finding comes despite My Business readers suggesting that regional areas are failing to keep pace with urban areas in terms of speed and reliability of internet services.
“I run a financial services business in a regional town, and before the NBN, when the whole country had equal internet access, we were able to attract clients from all over Australia as we could offer a lower price than our metropolitan competitors due to our lower cost structure (mainly wages and rents),” said one in response to a story on customer frustrations about internet accessibility.
“However, now we have lost clients due to our rubbish internet speeds and reliability. The price differential is no longer seen by customers as a comparative advantage to metro businesses with the same service offering and faster more reliable internet.”
Another commented: “Being in such [a] remote location, the NBN hasn’t made it to my area so I don’t know what I’ll be getting, but I am not hopeful.”
A third reader noted that northern Australian is already enjoying fibre-to-the-premises, something the rest of the country will not receive.
“Here in Darwin and Palmerston, we have NBN FTTP to businesses and homes. Apparently, the maintenance cost of fibre-to-the-node was too expensive, what with our Wet Season,” the reader said.
But an NBN spokesperson told My Business that “it didn’t have anything to do with the weather”. Instead, it was merely luck of the draw.
Instead, fibre to the Premises (FTTP) was rolled out across the entire metropolitan area of Darwin in 2014-15, and became available to customers between 2015 and 2016, under the original NBN schedule.
The NBN rollout incorporates the use of three different technologies - fixed line, fixed wireless and satellite internet.
ISPs and the percentage of maximum speeds achieved during peak periods, as of August 2018
• TPG – 88.4 per cent (up 2.8 per cent on previous quarter)
• Aussie Broadband – 85.8 per cent (down by 2.5 per cent on previous quarter)
• iiNet – 84.8 per cent (up 1.4 per cent on previous quarter)
• Optus – 84 per cent (up 0.7 per cent on previous quarter)
• Telstra – 83.5 per cent (up 3.6 per cent on previous quarter)
• MyRepublic – 82.1 per cent (up 7.7 per cent on previous quarter)
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.
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