An Overview on the Latest Broadband Speeds in Australia
The mobile industry is the global pacesetter in terms of internet speeds and connectivity. While 4G connectivity and availability is still here with us, the industry has now turned its focus to 5G. OpenSignal, a global mobile network performance monitoring company, in its state of LTE report covering January 1 up to March 31 ranked Australia as the 19th in the world on its 4G availability score. According to OpenSignal, Australia has 79.26% 4G availability and on average the country records 33.76 Mbps of 4G download speeds across all carriers making it the 10th overall in the world.
The Top Performers
When analyzing the Australian internet industry, you must first recognize the two main internet categories: fixed line broadband and mobile broadband. Similarly, in each of these categories, it helps to look at peak hour performance and off-peak performance. Generally, peak hour begins from 7 to 11 p.m. while off peak takes the remaining chunk of time.
Ookla, the Seattle-based global mobile and broadband performance monitoring service, came up with a report capturing speed testing data for Australia for the second and third quarter of 2017. Ookla is famous for its speedtest.net, a prominent internet speed testing tool.
Fixed Line Broadband
In the fixed line broadband category, the data from Speedtest Intelligence ranks Optus at the top as the fastest provider of internet services in Australia. Its average upload speed is 8.48 Mbps while its download speed is 24.12 Mbps. In terms of Speed Score, Optus is at the top with 24.16 followed by Telstra, TPG, iiNet, and iPrimus at scores of 22.78, 21.01, 19.84, and 15.89 respectively.
In terms of peak and off-peak hour performance, the data indicates that Australia experiences slower fixed broadband speeds during peak times mainly due to network congestion. Telstra is ranked the top in peak hour internet speed performance with average download speeds of 21.96 Mbps and upload speeds of 7.70 Mbps.
The mobile broadband category internet speed performance for the same period, Q2 to Q3 2017, saw Telstra carry the day with download speeds of 44.20 Mbps and 14.32 Mbps of upload speeds. It was followed by Vodafone in second place and Optus in third place.
During peak hours, Telstra’s download and upload speeds averaged 40.32 Mbps and 13.20 Mbps respectively. On the other hand, during off peak hours, the download and upload speeds averaged 46.07 Mbps and 14.83 Mbps respectively.
Internet Speed Performance Across Cities
In its report, Ookla went ahead to analyze broadband speeds across 12 cities in Australia chosen based on their population density. In the analysis, Wollongong in New South Wales scored the highest in fixed line speeds with a score of 94.31. The fastest ISP in the city was MyRepublic. The other cities that followed were Geelong, Gold Coast, New Castle, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Darwin, Adelaide, Perth, and Hobart in that order. The speed score used to rank the cities is based on the network speed performance both for upload and download speeds.
Differences in Speeds Per ISP
While it is understandable that fixed line broadband speeds were slower compared to mobile speeds in Australia, what is more intriguing is that speeds vary per ISP. Ideally, there should be consistency in speed performance across all providers because they are being serviced by the same National Broadband Network (NBN). Several explanations have been put forward to explain this discrepancy amongst them:
Fees Charged on ISPs
The National Broadband Network has been charging ISPs $15.25/Mbps per Connectivity Virtual Circuit (CVC) under the industry average model. According to critics, this charge is way too high and to some extent it acts as a tax on bandwidth thus pushing down the uptake of faster speeds.
However, this has now changed, and the billing will be done based on the new discount model. Under this model, individual ISPs will be charged depending on their average capacity per end user each month. It is a wait-and-see whether this will have a positive impact or not.
The Mix of Access Technology
Not all areas in Australia are served by the same network access technology infrastructure. There are areas served by dial-up, HFC, and ADSL. Still, some areas are served by a variety of fiber architectures such as fiber to the basement (FTTB), fiber to the node (FTTN), and fiber to the premises (FTTP). For the areas outside the NBN fiber coverage, they are served by a combination of satellite and fixed wireless.
The Customer Segment Served
There are some telcos whose focus in service provision is to the lower end of the market. The characteristics of this consumer segment defines the kind of products these telcos will have. For instance, if most of the customers wish to purchase only 12 Mbps and 1 Mbps of download and upload speeds, the telcos have to configure their product offerings to remain relevant to their customers.
Optus and Telstra have the advantage of access to the HFC cable network and this explains why they are ahead of the curve in terms of fixed line speeds. Access to this network gives telcos a huge boost in average download speeds. On the other hand, TPG has also made progress in increasing its speeds thanks to the fiber to the basement network it is rolling out.
ACCC Warnings on Poor Phone Networks
The National Broadband Network and Telstra have recently recorded an upsurge in customer complaints due to the quality of the services delivered. Customers are unhappy with the internet and phone services they are receiving despite paying a huge price for the rollout of the national network. Complaints about internet services exceeded those of mobile phones as frustrated customers expressed displeasure on the fact that they can no longer rely on technology to stay informed, connected, and do business. Telstra is migrating its customers to NBN and so is Optus. Both telcos and others have received complaints related to NBN. For instance, customers were complaining to Optus that they are paying for 100 Mbps, but on Ookla speedtest, they are seeing only 3.04 Mbps download speeds and 1.41 Mbps upload speeds. The top 10 telcos in Australia accounted for close to 91% of all complaints. The total number of complaints received in the financial year 2016/2017 according to the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman is nearly 64,000 for internet which is a whopping 65% increase.
With all these complaints and many more on the way, mobile broadband could be the solution to giving Australians higher download speeds and more reliable connections. Mobile broadband ensures that you are covered everywhere you go with a lot of flexibility in plans and packages.