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COVID-19 Broadband Boosts Lifted Video Streaming Performance

Broadband speed boosts during COVID-19 have been good news for streaming services like Netflix and YouTube, which saw performance improve over pre-pandemic levels.

The ACCC has released its second Critical Services Report today, which showed YouTube’s daily download speed improving by one to four per cent in September and October compared to February, and Netflix improving by six to seven per cent.

NBN Co offered retail service providers free extra capacity over the course of the pandemic, while providers took steps to mitigate the impact of congestion including reducing bitrates and image quality in video streaming services. Most returned to full bitrates in October.

“Continual uplift”: Rod Sims, ACCC.

Rod Sims, chair of the ACCC, said the improvements were welcome considering the increased use of streaming services during COVID-19.

“The free network capacity boost offered by NBN Co at the outset of the pandemic has been key to the continual uplift in access quality to online applications.

“The MBA [Measuring Broadband Australia] program data has allowed us to see how the mitigations and network boosts have improved streaming quality, and benefitted consumers, since the last report,” he said.

The report also looked at videoconferencing services, and found that applications hosted in Australia had low latency of only 25 milliseconds or less in October, while overseas-hosted applications had latency of more than 100 milliseconds.

Internet speeds in Australia hit a record high during the pandemic, with retail service providers averaging 94 per cent of maximum plan speeds during busy hours.

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