Yet more bad news on Australian broadband speeds

Yet more bad news on Australian broadband speeds

Summary: Australia is fighting it out with Mexico in offering one of the worst broadband performances in the OECD. Each new set of statistics proves the point.


It seems that almost every week, there is yet more data demonstrating how far Australia is falling behind on broadband. It's bad news for a country with such a revolutionary vision as the National Broadband Network (NBN).

The latest figures collated by the OECD (released July 18) show we are eighth from the bottom of member countries for fibre and cable penetration — just 4.4 per 100 inhabitants, compared to 36.5 in Korea and more than 18 in the US and Canada. The UK penetration is twice ours, even though the OECD definition of fibre doesn't include Openreach's fibre-to-the-node solution.

As a proportion of all broadband, our fibre penetration rate is just 1.58 percent, against an OECD average of 14.9 percent.

(Image: Phil Dobbie/ZDNet)

The reason for our poor showing is a no-brainer: It has to be the delayed investment resulting from the NBN. Although the Competitive Carriers Coalition also put it down to the dominant power of Telstra. "The apparent stagnation of the Australian broadband market is yet another symptom of insufficient market competition," it said, highlighting the need to fix the problem before we decline further in international rankings.

Frankly, we don't have too much farther to fall. Mexico is nipping at our heels. It's not a good look, although it's one that New Zealand has had to come to terms with.

As we reel from our poor showing on the fibre front, Akamai this week hit us with its latest State of the Internet report, covering the first quarter of 2013. It shows us as being eighth from the bottom of the OECD for average speed, at 4.7Mbps. If that speed seems low to you, check out my earlier explanation of how it measures stuff.

This latest data from Akamai shows that not only have we not moved up the ladder since the last report, but we're also in the bottom half of the table for growth — 11 percent up, compared to 21.4 percent in the UK.

So the vast majority of countries are faster than us, and more than half of them are piling on speed at a greater ratio than we are — even though we come from a low base. In other words, the gap is widening. For example, in the last quarter of 2012, the UK's average speed was 54 percent higher than us; now, its 68 percent. Last time, it had 11 percent of users above 10Mbps; this time, it's 20 percent. Over the same quarter, we've gone from 3.9 percent to 4.8 percent.

In summary, our slow speeds are growing slower than most, and, as we recently observed, we're paying more for the privilege.

But, it's not all bad news — Telstra's profits for the first half were up 8.8 percent.

At least some numbers are moving in the right direction.

Topics: Australia, Broadband, Telstra


Phil Dobbie has a wealth of radio and business experience. He started his career in commercial radio in the UK and, since coming to Australia in 1991, has held senior marketing and management roles with Telstra, OzEmail, the British Tourist Authority and other telecommunications, media, travel and advertising businesses.

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  • everyone in government keeps talking about how

    Aus has to move into new sectors now that it looks like the mining boom is fading. well to do that we need stronger internet connections to provide service businesses, cloud business, and to fuel research & development. NBN should be a priority with no excuses.
  • No?

    "The reason for our poor showing is a no-brainer: It has to be the delayed investment resulting from the NBN."
    No it's because the incumberant, Telstra, owned the Copper and HFC (Foxtel) cable systems passing MOST premises in Australia. This is no fault of Telstra. Would Holden's let Ford build Ford cars in a Holden factory.
    So, NBN has been entrusted to build a network available to any competitor. If you haven't noticed, Australia has one of the biggest land masses, but one of the lowest population densities. So build a network from scratch does take time.
    Soon, we may have one of the BEST broadband systems globally. I say may, because if Turnbull has his way, we will stay at number 8, or even drop lower, because apparently Australians don't need such a world class system.
    • Small foot print

      We keep on hearing this low population density, large landmass argument as an excuse for the horribly expensive system/ slow build that NBN Co are saddling us with. NBN Co are putting in fibre in towns only, and then not all towns. I remember Quigly stating that fibre was in effect only going to around 4% of the landmass - the rest is wireless and they even wanted to retire copper in favour of wireless. The main problem is the design NBN Co have adopted is very expensive and slow to build and that backhaul to many areas is non-existent/ too expensive as no competition on the routes. The one thing this government did right was to fund the backhaul network - and look how services jumped (via the private sector) in so many of the towns it passed through.
  • No? a response

    toney56, hi, I just want to point out that more fairly, your comment should read "....if Turnbull has Abbott's way...."

    Mr Turnbull is doing the will of his master; I have no doubt the bile rises in his oesophagus every time he has to put on his Luddite mask and trot out the right nonsense....
  • both Australia & NZ have comprehensive

    programmes in play to fix this issue. NZ's is the better thought out with the use of wireless for the rural areas and fibre to the towns, and this is due to finish in 2015.

    However the real issue here is that the supply side is getting sorted, what is happening wiht the demand side. with content locked up by the TV companies, there is a long way to go here.
  • speed of connection vs speed of access to content

    do we want to start confusing people more? all these reports dump data on people who might not understand it, plus we are mixing speed of connection vs speed of access to content in with it all too... something most people don't understand. plus where are we actually getting are content from in australia? it's to be expected of course to be slower from overseas? where's those statistics? it's obvious we are behind globally not only on physical connection speeds, but actually how quickly we get content that's not local, Akamai, Google and other such companies are thankfully working on distributing content closer to us, but that's a long way to go.
  • Needs improvement

    The Government can do something to upgrade our internet connection. Give time to plan which is best to use. Also , it is important to have bigger budget to speed up the internet connection in Australia