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Oz Enjoying Faster Average Download Speeds, FTTN Still Underperforming

A recent ACCC report shows that Australians are benefitting from faster average download speeds, with retail service providers (RSPs) now delivering more than 80% of maximum plan speeds in the busy evening hours, although many high speed fibre to the node (FTTN) connections still are not close to performing as advertised.

The eighth Measuring Broadband Australia report, based on speed tests carried out during November 2019, shows Australian broadband plans achieved average download speeds of 85.3% of their maximum possible speeds during the busy evening hours of 7pm-11pm.

According to the ACCC, consumers on lower-priced plans were more likely to come close to getting the fastest download speeds possible on their connections, with consumers on 12Mbps plans receiving an average of 90.4% of their connection’s maximum possible speed, while those on 25Mbps plans received 88.7%.

Across all plans, most RSPs achieved scores of between 84.3% and 86.6%, while Optus recorded the highest score of 89.9%. Dodo and iPrimus recorded the biggest improvement in the busy hour download speed score, achieving 80% of maximum plan speeds, up from 76% in August 2019.

As for those not performing as promised, the ACCC report highlighted high speed FTTN connections as the major culprit, with the results showing that about a quarter of those consumers on FTTN connections, who are paying for high-speed 50Mbps and 100Mbps plans, still not receiving anywhere close to their plans’ promised speeds.

“We are pleased to see that speeds have generally improved, however, we need more action from NBN Co and RSPs so that all consumers can access their full NBN plan speeds,” said Rod Sims, ACCC chair.

“This Measuring Broadband Australia data clearly shows that too many consumers with FTTN connections are not receiving the speeds they are paying for.”

According to the report, across all plans and connections, most RSPs improved their average download speeds over the three months from August to November 2019, including during the peak evening hours.

However, results would have been between 1.4% and 6.2% better if issues causing poor performance on some FTTN connections, such as problems with in-house wiring, had been addressed.

“Consumers with underperforming connections are encouraged to get in touch with their RSPs and ask whether a technician may be able to fix their connection issues. Otherwise, they should be able to move to a cheaper plan with top speeds their connection can actually provide.”

The report also finds that NBN services continue to outperform ADSL service across a range of measurements. Consumers on entry level NBN 12Mbps plans received an average download speed of 10.8Mbps during peak hours, while those on ADSL services delivered just 7.7Mbps. NBN users also experienced fewer outages, lower latency and less packet loss than those on ADSL.

The next of these types of reports is set to be released in early May, and will, for the first time, compare how RSPs perform in streaming popular video content from Netflix and YouTube. As it continues to expand the Measuring Broadband Australia program, the ACCC is seeking more volunteers.

More than 2,300 Whiteboxes have now been distributed to volunteers across Australia, but more are needed to provide more detailed information on services used by consumers.

“Our volunteers have made a significant impact on the performance of Australia’s broadband, but we can only continue to bring more transparency to this market if more volunteers sign up,” Sims said.

“We encourage customers of Dodo, iPrimus and MyRepublic, and anyone in new housing estates with fibre broadband services in particular, to host one of our test devices.”

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