Last week, Telstra once again topped Australia's Netflix ISP Speed Index, fending off other telcos for an unbroken 12 month run. However, it only achieved this milestone by splitting its streaming speeds into NBN and non-NBN connections - something Netflix failed to offer Telstra's rivals.
Telstra announced the results with great fanfare last week, having ranked first on Netflix's Australian streaming speed leaderboard since February 2018. Telstra chief Andy Penn made particular mention of the achievement while announcing Telstra's half-yearly financial results, where the telco was in need of good news after profits plunged 27 per cent.
You know the feeling. You've had a long day and all you want to do is watch some Netflix. You loosen your clothes, kick your shoes off, grab a glass of whatever you like to drink and hit the button on a movie you've been dying to see and... nothing. Your internet service provider (ISP) is getting smashed and you're stuck in buffering hell.
But it's not like that with every ISP. Netflix's latest speed index results are out, revealing the best service providers for when you want to Netflix and chill.
For the first half of 2018, Telstra's Netflix performance was neck and neck with Exetel, but Telstra jumped ahead of the pack in May. Optus then clawed that lead back so that, by December, it was only .02 megabits per second behind Telstra; delivering typical Netflix streaming speeds of 4.05 Mbps compared to Telstra's 4.07 Mbps.
At this point, having led the leader board for 11 months in a row with the narrowest of margins, Telstra approached Netflix requesting the streaming giant split its monthly results into NBN and non-NBN connections. The move saw Telstra jump to 4.38 Mbps in January to secure a 12-month stint in first place, far clear of Optus which languished at 4.04 Mbps and Exetel at 3.99 Mbps.
Telstra's rivals were handicapped as their average Netflix speeds were dragged down by customers still relying on the copper DSL network. While Telstra's NBN-only speeds claimed first place, its non-NBN entry slipped down to fourth at 3.83 Mbps.
Netflix offers a similar breakdown between connection technologies in other countries — including the US, Canada and New Zealand — but it applies this to multiple internet service providers and not just the dominant incumbent player. For example, both Verizon and AT&T's fibre and DSL services are listed separately in the US speed rankings.
While declining to comment on the issue, Optus confirmed that it had not been approached by Netflix with an offer to split its speed test results in order to offer a like-for-like comparison with Telstra's NBN speeds.
Netflix confirmed that Telstra requested the change in speed listings for January, but declined to comment on the timing of the change; securing Telstra’s 12-month streak in first place. Nor would Netflix comment on why the same opportunity was not offered to other Australian internet providers in order to present a fair comparison.
"Netflix has always offered to split the technology in all markets without discrimination," according to a Netflix spokesperson. "We’re doing this to better represent the evolving marketplace of internet offerings consumers can choose from.
"We split the reporting of Internet Service Provider speeds at the request of the operator, regardless of Netflix's relationship with them. So, any partner can make the request to split the traffic based on type."
Telstra asked Netflix to split the speed tests in January because "an increasing number of Internet Service Providers are mainly (or only) providing services via the NBN rather than the other technologies that Telstra still supports," according to a Telstra spokesperson.
"We chose to make the split now, as approximately 50 per cent of our customers have transitioned to the NBN," the spokesperson said. "By splitting out our NBN speeds, a more like-for-like comparison can be made. Additionally, transparency of the different technologies is important."
"Telstra is confident that if our result was not split, our speed result would still be higher than our competitors."
Here is your Netflix binge-list for the week, fresh from the Australian servers! This week's noteworthy additions include Suburra Season 2, fresh episodes of Chef's Table, Jupiter Ascending and Paris Is Us.
Read on for everything coming to the service for the week of February 18 to February 24.