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NBN Speeds Hit New High Water Mark

Fixed-line NBN speeds are continuing to pick up across Australia, the ACCC says, reaching a new performance high in its latest Measuring Broadband Australia report.

The consumer watchdog found that in February 2021, across major NBN fixed-line plans, retail service providers achieved 86.8 to 99.1 per cent of plan speeds during the busy evening hours of 7pm to 11pm; on average, download speeds were 95.7 per cent of plan speed during peak hours and 96.7 per cent during all hours of the day.

Smaller NBN providers also improved, with reseller Exetel showing the biggest jump of 8.8 percentage points, now achieving 98.7 per cent of plan speed during the evening peak.

According to ACCC Commissioner Anna Brakey, the results – the highest since the ACCC began its quarterly Measuring Broadband Australia reports in 2018 – indicate good performance across the NBN as a whole, with customers by and large getting what they paid for.

Anna Brakey, ACCC.

“These results suggest that a broader range of retailers, not just those that directly connect to the NBN, are able to achieve close to full plan speeds, which is good news for consumers and competition. This points to a further maturing of the broadband market,” she said.

Fixed wireless continues to lag behind, hitting only 81.2 per cent of plan speeds during the day and just 70.8 per cent at the peak hours, though this is an improvement over December 2020.

Additionally, the ACCC looked for the first time at “ultrafast” plans which offer speeds of 500-990Mbps; on average, it found that average speeds hit between 608 and 745Mbps, dropping by around 23 per cent during the evening peak.

Brakey says customers looking to upgrade their plans should consider the value of a higher-speed plan relative to their daily usage, with “only small differences” being observed in web browsing speeds for NBN25 plans and above.

“Most Australians have 50Mbps speed plans which are capable of meeting the needs of a typical household, even when multiple devices are online at the same time.

“When choosing NBN plans, consumers should consider the number of people in their household that will be online at the same time and whether they use online applications that require higher levels of network speed and performance, such as gaming, video streaming and video conferencing,” said Brakey.

The Measuring Broadband Australia program is being extended to 2025, and the ACCC is seeking additional volunteer households.

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