+ Friday November 22nd, 2019

If you’ve ever been gaslit by someone you know it’s a pretty awful experience, being made to think that it’s you that’s crazy, and not some other external explanation for what’s going on. Well, that’s exactly what the NBN would have you believe this last week, coming out and saying no, Australia’s broadband speeds aren’t slow, you’re just measuring them wrong.

How so? Well, NBN Co chief executive Stephen Rue argued that Australia’s poor standings in world speed test rankings wasn’t because our broadband speeds are generally slower, but because the measurements aren’t done in a representative way.

A variety of fixed broadband speed test results show that Australia’s ranking isn’t high, and it’s slipping. Tests from firms such as Ookla, M-Lab and Akamai show how each country fares for broadband, with Australia lagging behind.

According to the latest Ookla report for September, Australia ranks at 61 in the world for fixed broadband.

These results are – for obvious reasons – seized upon by those who would point out that the Multi-Technology-Mix policy of the coalition government has been an abject failure, but the NBN Co will have none of it.

NBN Co commissioned a research firm to analyse the data behind speed tests internationally, and to come up with a ranking methodology that allowed a more like-for-like comparison with other countries. This report was launched at last week’s Broadband World Forum in the Netherlands.

Broadly, the difference between all other reporting bodies and NBN’s research is that companies such as Ookla and M-Lab rely on users actually submitting speed tests. In other words, users are self selecting and may not be representative of the actual speeds available in the real world.

It’s easy to see how such a thing could skew results – if you know you’ve got a reliable 100 / 40 Mbps connection, you might be less inclined to speed test as regularly as someone who’s trying to diagnose issues with a crappy FTTN connection that never gets up to speed.

With this in mind, and using more representative data, NBN Co’s report contends that Australia’s ranking is closer to 17 out of 37 countries. Australia would still fall behind Singapore, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand and the US … but this really isn’t surprising. Fixed broadband in those countries is significantly faster than it is in Australia, and no fudging the numbers will change that.

Speaking of that fudging, it involves measuring contracted speed rather than speed actually delivered, so FTTN connections will skew those results a lot. Those results are also weighted against availability of broadband – which pegs down the countries where broadband isn’t so widely available.

What’s all this mean? Well, Australia’s broadband speeds are – on average – well short of where they should be and, if you take a particular view on the NBN MTM policy, well short of where we would’ve been had the government not decided to use a mixture of copper, crappy technology and just a little bit of nice fibre.

Chris Rowland   Managing Editor

Chris Rowland

Chris has been at the forefront of smartphone reporting in Australia since smartphones were a thing, and has used mobile phones since they came with giant lead-acid batteries that were "transportable" and were carried in a shoulder bag.

Today, Chris publishes one of Australia's most popular technology websites, Ausdroid. His interests include mobile (of course), as well as connected technology and how it can make all our lives easier.

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Cam
Guest
Cam

Wait, so they’re arguing that it’s not slow, it’s just that more people have slow/problem connections?

Andrew Burns
Guest
Andrew Burns

Will the Labor blaiming ever stop!

Prior to of the coalition’s deal with the devil we would have all had fibre to the premises.
But Rupert told Malcolm I don’t want fibre to the premises, Foxtel comes before Australia’s structure needs.

Stephen
Guest
Stephen

I was in Spain last month and I was consistently getting 450Mbps!

Greg
Guest
Greg

Omg – stop being a mouthpiece for NBNCO, do some research and do not give these idiots the platform to spread such utter garbage.

Russ
Guest
Russ

Hold up, weren’t Labor going to run FTTC? Which would have blown up costs, and made the tiered plans a necessity. Typical Liberal, take away the service and keep the cost high.

I refuse to pay more than $60 a month for home Wi-Fi, so I’ve got a 12mbps plan. I just plug my phone into my laptop via usb c and get 20-25mbps all day. Then once the 60gb is used up, switch back to the slow $50B nbn. Funiest thing is, Telstra paid for the 25mbps phone reception, now they’re rolling out 5g for us too…

Russel
Guest
Russel

Labor was building FTTP (premise). That’s a future proof investment. It sits there and does whatever we ask of it for 50 years or more. Then the Liberals came along and said “Hey we can do that cheaper”. Only problem is, it wasn’t cheaper and it will have to be scrapped and replaced with a fully fibre network. The expression is “why pay twice?”.

Russel
Guest
Russel

Congrats to all the people who voted Liberal and brought this upon themselves. Under Labor we would have spent $50 billion and gotten a network that would do anything we ask of it for 50 years or more. Under the Liberals we have spent $50 billion on a temporary network. One we will have to scrap and replace at further cost. And here is the truth about NBNco’s spin..

https://thenewdaily.com.au/life/tech/2019/10/21/nbn-alphabeta-speedtest-report/

Mathew
Guest
Mathew

> What’s all this mean? Well, Australia’s broadband speeds are – on average – well short of where they should be Agreed. Facts are that less than 40% have FTTN (68Mbps average), HFC & FTTC should support 100Mbps and FTTP (~30%) should have access to 1Gbps. > if you take a particular view on the NBN MTM policy, well short of where we would’ve been had the government not decided to use a mixture of copper, crappy technology and just a little bit of nice fibre. Except that view would be wrong. – Under Labor’s FTTP only policy ~85% were… Read more »

Gordon
Guest
Gordon

The difference is that the CVC pricing can be changed at the stroke of a pen – it’s a simple commercial decision. But remediating all those stuck on underperforming FTTN connections will cost millions and take years. And I would love to know the rationale behind your assertion that removing the speed tiers would make FTTN have the fastest average speed – given that a significant percentage of FTTN connections wouldn’t support faster speeds even if they were more affordable?

Pundae
Guest
Pundae

Chow chew by. Tulan. In sg I get 1 tgbps. Here getting 8mbps when I pay for 49mbps evening speed. Co is Tangerine

Luke Parsons
Guest
Luke Parsons

Wouldn’t it be better to get ISPs to get users to opt-in to a daily speed test that occurs at different times of the day and it happens without user input. If it was fully automated and could be scheduled to collect consistent data.. that would be much better representative

Bernie
Guest
Bernie

Stephen Rue you ignorant C… I was going to expound on that but I think it really says it all!

Dean
Guest
Dean

What a loud of rubbish from the NBN. Users don’t have to be selective to show that the network is not worth the amount paid for it. Wish we could class action all the minister’s involved and the NBN for following their ever changing requirements along the way to the poor excuse of a national network that we have today. They should of allowed the two Chinese companies bid for the equipment at the beginning and made Telstra build it with them having to separate the network from their other businesses. Just look at South Korea and Japan who use… Read more »

Dean
Guest
Dean

What a loud of rubbish from the NBN. Users don’t have to be selective to show that the network is not worth the amount paid for it. Wish we could class action all the minister’s involved and the NBN for following their ever changing requirements along the way to the poor excuse of a national network that we have today. They should of allowed the two Chinese companies bid for the equipment at the beginning and made Telstra build it with them having to separate the network from their other businesses. Just look at South Korea and Japan who use… Read more »

Taz
Guest
Taz

For the record, my fttn is now only getting 15Mbps. 10Mbps less almost than the dsl2+ service that preceded it. $50 billion well spent.

Mathew
Guest
Mathew

I find this highly doubtful, considering that ADSL2+ speeds were impacted by distance from the exchange. If you had a 24Mbps ADSL2+ service then you must have been close to next door to the exchange which means you would also be close to a node.

Luke Vesty
Ausdroid Reader
Luke Vesty

My NBN performance is pretty decent most of the time. I have HFC with a 50/20 unlimited plan on myrepublic. I regularly get results around 40/19. At peak it’s probably in the high 20s down and around 19 up. More than enough for my needs. I very, very rarely get a total drop out or a drop in speed that causes things like video to buffer.

Matty
Guest
Matty

I wouldn’t say nbn i have now is slow as it’s much better than what i had which was 5.0 down and 1.5 up and now getting 18-20 up and 5 down which is the plan i’m on. However, that changes depending on the day and some days it’s back down to 5.0 down but then after a reset or the next day goes back up. Sometimes will also just not give a stable connection with the drop outs. With the NBN and future, i was certainly expecting alot more with a base speed and the future proofing of it.… Read more »

Simon
Guest
Simon

Taking NBNs word on this, it just proves how bad their service is compared to the service* I offer* which will give everyone in the country 1Tb symmetrical speeds.

(* service may not actually exist, but that doesnt seem to stop NBN trying to use hypotheticals)

Paul Smedley
Ausdroid Reader

There is some truth to this…. my dad has NBN12 on a HFC connection. The connection can well and truly support 100MBit, but with the way that Ookla measure/report – his connection would only be considered to be 12MBit.

Check Also

Good news: US Government grants Microsoft a licence to supply software to Huawei

Could it just be that Huawei’s luck is turning? News out of the US this …