MyRepublic worst and Aussie Broadband best at delivering NBN download speed promises: ACCC

The ACCC has labelled Aussie Broadband and MyRepublic 'book ends' of NBN's retailers, with the former winning and the latter losing across providing maximum download speeds and TPG, iiNet, Optus, and Telstra spread out between them.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has published its second National Broadband Network (NBN) speed-monitoring report, this time throwing retailers Aussie Broadband and MyRepublic into the mix, with the former winning and the latter losing across download speeds.

According to Measuring Broadband Australia: Report 2, July 2018 [PDF], Aussie Broadband delivered 89.1 percent of its maximum plan speeds overall and 88.3 percent during busy hours for downloads.

It was followed by TPG, at 86 percent overall and 85.6 percent in busy hours; iiNet, at 85 percent overall and 83.4 percent during busy hours; Optus, at 83.9 percent overall and 83.3 percent during busy hours; Telstra, at 81 percent overall and 79.9 percent during busy hours; and lastly MyRepublic, at 79.5 percent overall and 74.4 percent during busy hours.

Aussie Broadband likewise scored highest on average upload speeds, providing 89.4 percent of its maximum plan speeds overall and 89.1 percent during busy hours. iiNet was ranked second for upload speeds, providing 85.4 percent overall and 85.2 percent during busy hours; TPG was third, providing 85.1 percent overall and 85 percent in busy hours; Optus came fourth, at 84.3 percent overall and 84. 1 percent in busy hours; and MyRepublic ranked fifth, providing 80.8 percent overall and 79.8 percent in busy hours.

Telstra scored lowest on upload speeds, providing 79.8 percent of maximum plan speeds overall and 79.7 percent in busy hours.

Despite its lower scores, Telstra had the fastest average webpage-loading time, at 2.8 seconds, followed by TPG and Aussie Broadband at 3.1 seconds, iiNet at 3.2 seconds, and Optus and MyRepublic at 3.4 seconds.

The ACCC explained this by saying latency was lowest on Telstra, at 13.5 milliseconds overall in comparison to iiNet's 14.3ms, Optus' 14.7ms, TPG's 15ms, Aussie Broadband's 16.1ms, and MyRepublic's 20.2ms.

The ACCC also ranked retailers on "very busy hours", with more extreme results.

"We base very busy hour performance on the fifth-lowest hourly average speed measure per whitebox that we observed during the 120 busy hours that fell within the test period," the ACCC explained.

"This is quite a high bar. We don't use the very lowest speed measure due to the potential for this view to be distorted by a network or an extraordinary demand event."

According to the watchdog, MyRepublic -- which was last week fined AU$25,200 for allegedly making false or misleading representations about its NBN speeds on the 100Mbps and 50Mbps speed tiers -- provided just 46.6 percent of its maximum plan speeds during these very busy hours.

iiNet scored second lowest, providing 65.8 percent; Telstra 68.2 percent; Optus 68.8 percent; Aussie Broadband 74.7 percent; and TPG 75.9 percent.

Upload speeds during very busy hours remained fairly high, with Aussie Broadband providing 82.4 percent of maximum plan speeds, TPG 80.8 percent, iiNet 80.4 percent, Optus 78.5 percent, Telstra 75.4 percent, and MyRepublic 73.5 percent.

The tests were carried out during May, with more than 145,000 download speed tests conducted during the month. The retailer with the most whiteboxes across its NBN customers was Telstra, with 169 whiteboxes, followed by iiNet with 154, TPG with 99, Optus with 95, Aussie Broadband with 78, and MyRepublic with 62.

There were 310 whiteboxes measuring speeds for customers on the 100/40Mbps speed tier, 265 on the 50/20Mbps tier, and 146 on the 25/5Mbps tier.

The ACCC labelled the speed test results "mainly pleasing but some concerning", pointing to the approximate 7 percent of consumers who attained less than half of their maximum plan speeds.

"Whilst we are pleased to see that most customers are able to get fast, reliable broadband services even during busy hours, we must focus our attention on those who do not have this experience," ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

"We urge providers to help customers obtain the full speeds associated with the plans they are acquiring. We also expect ISPs to inform customers of the speeds achievable on their network connections, and better match the plans they offer to those speeds. The recent court enforceable undertakings accepted by the ACCC will help with this."

The federal opposition party welcomed the report, saying it provides a good baseline measurement for holding retail service providers accountable for NBN performance.

"Three in four Australians on Turnbull's copper NBN cannot achieve top speeds, and without these measures there is a higher risk they will be sold plans that cannot be delivered," Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said.

"The public has every right to be disappointed the Turnbull government ignored the ACCC and its requests to establish this program for 14 months."

Communications Alliance said the ACCC's report confirms that increased traffic in peak hours is "being well managed", but added that the watchdog should be reporting not only against maximum speeds but also advertised speeds.

"This is unfortunate, given that the ACCC has issued guidance -- and providers have entered enforceable undertakings in accordance with it -- that providers should not make claims around maximum plan speeds, and instead should advertise based on information about 'typical busy hour speeds'," Comms Alliance CEO John Stanton said.

The ACCC's first fixed-line broadband speed monitoring report published in March had found that NBN retailers were delivering up to 90 percent of their speed tier promises during peak hours.

The report followed the consumer watchdog forcing Telstra, Optus, TPG, iiNet, Internode, Dodo, iPrimus, and Commander to compensate tens of thousands of customers for not providing them with the NBN speeds they were paying for.

The ACCC is still seeking volunteers for the broadband speed monitoring program in order to increase the pool of data, and will be providing its next report later this year.

The AU$6.5 million speed-monitoring program will take place over the next four years, with SamKnows appointed in December to monitor speeds. The government is providing funding over four years from July 1, 2017.

The ACCC has also said it would need an additional AU$6 million in government funding to extend its speed-monitoring program to fixed-wireless services.

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