Fixed line NBN broadband services have continued to deliver strong results despite facing unprecedented demand during May and June this year, according to the ACCC’s tenth quarterly Measuring Broadband Australia report.
This is the first quarterly report to provide detailed results on network performance during the COVID-19 pandemic, which put sustained pressure on broadband networks as many Australians moved schooling and work to home.
“We have seen an improvement in download speeds for all speed tier plans and across all retail service providers (RSPs) during the period from May to June,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.
MyRepublic and iiNet have shown the greatest improvement in their busy hour download speeds, 5.4 per cent and 4.0 per cent respectively, since the last report.
“Speeds are also similar to those seen prior to the pandemic, in spite of a prolonged surge in broadband demand as households and businesses practice coronavirus restrictions.”
“NBN Co’s decision to offer RSPs 40 per cent extra network capacity for free has been vital to the network’s sustained performance, and we welcome their decision to extend this offer until 30 November,” Mr Sims added.
The ACCC previously reported that average download speeds on NBN Co’s 50 Mbps and 100 Mbps tiers had dropped by 14 per cent and 23 per cent, respectively before the move by NBN Co and the measures by streaming providers to reduce their picture quality for viewers.
This report has expanded the video content streaming tests to include all speed tiers from the NBN12 plan to the NBN100, and measures the number of simultaneous streams a NBN plan would be able to support.
“Our streaming test now includes all major NBN plans but we are keen to expand our testing to the new gigabit plans some RSPs offer. We encourage people on these new plans to sign up to our program,” Mr Sims said.
Streaming test results from popular Netflix video content indicate that all plans can maintain at least one high definition stream, with the higher speed plans being able to successfully support multiple ultra-high definition quality content, at the one time.
“These results should prompt consumers to contact their RSPs to better understand which plans best suit their needs and streaming quality preferences,” Mr Sims said.
Mr Sims said a continuing positive finding is the steady decline in underperforming services from 9.6 per cent to 8.1 per cent, due to consumers having their modem or in-home wiring issues fixed, or moving to lower and less expensive speed plans to ensure they receive the speeds they pay for.
“We encourage NBN Co and RSPs to continue to build upon this result especially given the additional investment in FTTN service improvements announced last week by NBN Co,” Mr Sims said.
“We welcome this decision by NBN Co especially since one in five FTTN customers on higher speed plans are still not getting anywhere near what they are paying for,” Mr Sims added.
The ACCC also released its second monthly key indicators report which shows the trend in daily download speeds for each month from May to July.
Results indicate that network performance during this period has continued to hold up well. An upward trend observed from mid-July is likely due to NBN Co altering their access products to allow consumers to have slightly higher speeds.
The ACCC is calling on broadband customers to volunteer and to also take part in the free speed test program via measuringbroadbandaustralia.com.au
The unprecedented demand during COVID-19 has required additional checks of the MBA test data so we can remain confident that the metrics we are reporting accurately show the speed and quality available to consumers when using their broadband service to access popular online content and applications. These checks led us to defer the test period used for this report by a few weeks, and to discard some results that were recorded to our test server in Western Australia. It is likely the discarded results had been affected by congestion that occurred on the data network hosting that test server, which a consumer would be unlikely to have encountered in their own use of their broadband service. We will continue to apply these additional assurance checks throughout the COVID period.
The impact of server specific congestion on speed metrics for each day in May June and July is shown in the Monthly Report.
The Federal Government funded the ACCC to run a national broadband performance monitoring and reporting program from 2017-21.
Data for Measuring Broadband Australia is provided by UK-based firm SamKnows using methodology based on established speed testing programs in the UK, US and Canada.