Throughout the year, people have been testing their connection speeds with ZDNet's Broadband Speed Test. Since February, we asked people to enter their postcode and connection type, so that we could compare the various technologies. We lost some data in June, as ZDNet Australia was migrated to the international version of ZDNet. Still, up until last week (December 12), we had 602,831 records from Australian users. This was enough to discover some interesting facts about what's happening when it gets to hooked-up internet Down Under.
Overall, it paints a positive picture. Speeds are increasing, not just through the adoption of new technologies (like fibre and 4G), but also because we're getting more out of DSL and 3G.
As always, a word of caution on these figures: They are not a fully representative sample. They are the results of tests, often taken by people who want to see why their connection is slow, or how fast their new connection is. That'll polarise the results a little. There's also the geek factor: The results will be heavily skewed in favour of people who get a kick out of seeing how fast their internet connection is. That could push the averages up a little.
That said, these caveats apply equally to all the results, irrespective of which connection type or internet service provider (ISP) the user has selected. That makes the relativity of these comparisons totally bona fide.
Fibre provided the fastest average connection speed from the 602,832 tests taken over the year. It provided an average speed of 24.8Mbps, followed by cable (20.7Mbps), 4G (10.7Mbps), DSL (6.1Mbps), and 3G (3.5Mbps).
Despite the emerging availability of 4G, it accounted for just 3 percent of all tests, with this figure showing no sign of increase over the year. There were more than twice as many tests for 3G.
Both 3G and 4G speeds seem to have increased over the year. 3G speeds have risen from just 2.5Mbps in February up to 5.1Mbps so far this month.
Average 3G speeds were slowest in New South Wales (2Mbps), compared to 2.7Mbps in Victoria, 2.8Mbps in Western Australia, and 5.8Mbps in Queensland.
DSL speeds averaged 6Mbps for home users, 7.4Mbps for those at work, and 11.3Mbps for school users.
Home DSL speeds have been increasing, although they slipped a little around Easter time. April was the slowest month, with an average speed of 5.9Mbps, and December finishing the year at 6.7Mbps.
Victoria had the fastest home DSL speed results (6.7Mbps), followed by South Australia (6.1Mbps), NSW (6Mbps), WA (5.5Mbps), Tasmania (5.3Mbps), Queensland (5.1Mbps), and the Australian Capital Territory (5.1Mbps).
Over the year, Telstra has offered the fastest home DSL access speeds. Its average of 6.5Mbps was well ahead of TPG (6.1Mbps), Internode (6Mbps), iiNet (5.7Mbps), OptusNet (5.5Mbps), and Dodo (5.5Mbps).
Telstra lost its lead position recently, however, with TPG beating Telstra for the top spot for the last three months. Telstra's average speeds have been sliding since the middle of the year, whilst TPG has increased.
Although it's not a precise indicator of market size, it is worth noting that 29 percent of all home DSL speed tests were by BigPond users, followed by TPG (18 percent), iiNet (15 percent), OptusNet (7 percent), Internode (4 percent), and Dodo (3 percent).
Most ISPs retained a similar share of tests throughout the year, although OptusNet slipped from 8 percent in February and March down to 5 percent in August and September, finishing at 6 percent for the last few months of the year. Dodo and TPG also account for a smaller proportion of tests at the end of the year.
Fibre and cable facts
Cable users made up 20 percent of the tests. Only 2 percent of tests over the year were from fibre connections.
Telstra's cable speeds seem to be streets ahead, averaging 33Mbps (2,780 tests), compared to 22.9Mbps for Internode (199 tests), 20.6Mbps for OptusNet (360 tests), 17.9Mbps for iiNet (626 tests), and 9.5Mbps for TPG (254 tests).
Average fibre speeds seem to have slowed during the year — perhaps as new users sign up for lower-speed plans. Over the year, fibre speeds averaged 26.5Mbps for home users, 18.9Mbps for those at work, and just 16.1Mbps for schools.
Telstra accounted for 35 percent of all fibre tests, and, with an average of 33Mbps, beat the rest in terms of speed.
At 24.6Mbps, Victoria had the fastest average speed from fibre (239 tests), followed by NSW, at 23.3Mbps (250 tests), and Queensland, at 19.9Mbps (102 tests).
We'll continue tracking speed-test results in 2013. With such a large sample size, it is one of the best gauges there is on broadband connectivity speeds. If there's anything you'd like us to analyse, let us know. Drop us a line, or leave a comment below.
In the meantime, here's to a happy and speedy holiday!