NBN Performance Is Slowly Improving

Image: Getty Images

The ACCC has released is quarterly report into NBN speeds. And while things are generally improving, there are some challenges ahead. Optus suffers the most outages while iiNet, Exetel and Dodo/iPrimus recorded the biggest improvements since the last reporting period.

The ACCC, through the Measuring Broadband Australia program, uses its partner SamKnows to collect broadband performance data from over 1000 households in Australia - an increase from about 600 when the program commenced in early 2018. Those homes have a "white box" installed that collects data such as upload and download speeds, latency and outages. 940 of those boxes are connected to NBN services with the rest analysing DSL-based services.

Here's where those boxes are installed and how many services aren't delivering on the promised performance.

RSP Total Whiteboxes Underperforming services
Aussie Broadband 162 17
Dodo & iPrimus 49 4
Exetel 60 3
iiNet 155 23
MyRepublic 64 12
Optus 121 15
Telstra 172 34
TPG 126 7
Other NBN RSPs 31 4
Total 940 119

The data is presented in a report each quarter. However, it only contains data from one month in that quarter. So, now that it's May, we're looking at data from February.

While the data is useful, it should be noted that it represents 940 homes out of about about 10 million. It only includes fixed NBN services and not satellite or wireless connections.

The February data found that Optus customers recorded about 10 outages a week that exceeded 30 seconds. In contrast, Telstra and TPG led the pack with less than one outage per week on average.

Image: ACCC

Performance wise, most of the RSPs the ACCC is monitoring improved during the peak 7:00PM to 11:00PM period. The only exception was My Republic but the fall of just 0.1% is not significant in my view, given the sample size and the potential for a mix of different technology options depending on where you live.

Image: ACCC

The good news from the data is that the differential between speeds during peak and off peak periods is very small - about 1% in most cases. That's probably less than what most people will notice during normal use. The ACCC also monitors some DSL connections using the same mechanism and found performance fell significantly between reporting periods.

Image: ACCC

The small sample size makes it hard to draw too many conclusions. There's no indication of where those white boxes are installed and we know that an RSP can see significant performance differences across its customer base depending on what connection type the customer has. There can be a world of difference between a HFC-based connection and one that relies on copper.

You can read the full Measuirng Broadband Australia report for May 2018 and draw your own conclusions.


    Geez, what the hell is Optus doing thats giving them such a high outage rate compared to everyone else. even though its all using basically the same network.

      This is my problem with the data. We're drawing conclusions on a large network based on a sample of 121 Optus customers. There's no root cause analysis provided and, it's worth noting that from the 121 users, just 15 are underperforming. What if there was one local outage that resulted in just a handful of customers for a week? In other words, I'm not sure the data is statistically significant.

        Perhaps interestingly, that's around 10% underperforming. Which is kind of similar to the number of FTTN installations that would be expected to have problems.
        But yes, with such a small dataset it's kinda meaningless.

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