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Fibre To The Node Falters As NBN Speeds Surge

NBN performance has continued to improve, with fixed-line customers experiencing their highest speeds yet in December – but fibre to the node is still lagging behind.

The ACCC’s latest quarterly Measuring Broadband Australia report found that retail service providers hit between 85.0 and 98.9 per cent of maximum fixed-line plan speeds during the 7-11pm peak in December 2020.

According to ACCC Commissioner Anna Brakey, this result is higher than seen in the previous report, which covered October 2020.

Anna Brakey, ACCC.

“In December, consumers received the highest overall speeds since the ACCC began monitoring broadband performance in 2018, and internet service providers delivered a higher percentage of maximum plan speeds in the busy evening hours,” she said.

The report also examined wireless NBN for the first time, finding that consumers on fixed NBN wireless connections usually experienced 78.5 per cent of maximum plan speed, dropping to 68.4 per cent during peak hours.

“Consumers on fixed wireless connections experienced quite good speeds during the daytime, but we observed a reduction from 5pm when the network is busier.

“Despite the decline in speed, consumers on the fixed wireless network achieved sufficient speeds to access a range of internet applications during the busy evening hours,” said Brakey.

While underperformance continued to decline, with only 7.7 per cent of consumers experiencing underperforming connections in December, Brakey noted that technical limitations of FTTN connections would prevent speeds from ever reaching the maximum.

“A significant proportion of fibre to the node connections delivered maximum speeds below the maximum retail plan speed that the consumer has selected.

“We encourage both NBN Co and retail service providers to help consumers on connections that do not perform to their plan speed,” she said.

Streaming performance has also improved, with all NBN12 plans now able to support up to four simultaneous HD Netflix streams.

“Strongly performing broadband services, in conjunction with technological improvements, now makes simultaneous high definition streaming an option for consumers on any fixed-line NBN plan,” said Brakey.

NBN50 plans are now generally able to support up to three simultaneous ultra-HD streams.

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