Up to speed: Australians want it faster, sooner

The latest ZDNet Australia speedtest results show that our appetite for speed is insatiable.

The anti-NBN argument that we don't need faster internet has always been spurious. The latest ZDNet Australia speedtest results show that our appetite for speed is insatiable.

Between May and June last year, 28 per cent of tests on the ZDNet Australia broadband speedtest recorded speeds in excess of 8Mbps. In the last two months of the year this had risen to 32 per cent.

(Credit: Phil Dobbie/ZDNet Australia)

Telstra and Optus are driving a lot of this growth — clearly there's a push to drive traffic onto their hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) networks. Between May and October of 2011, 36 per cent of Telstra BigPond tests reported speeds exceeding 8Mbps. In December that figure had risen to 41 per cent. For Optus, 42 per cent of tests showed speeds of over 8Mbps between May and October; that rose to 45 per cent in December. Both sets of figures are based on home, fixed-line connections only. They negate the argument that people don't want faster speeds — there's a sizeable chunk of the online community that seem to be leaping on the broadbandwagon.

It's not just cable that's driving this growth either. Our speedtest results show that other providers are also seeing their customer bases moving up to higher speeds.

TPG, for example, has seen speeds between 8 and 20Mbps increasing from 23 per cent between May and October to 25 per cent in December 2011. Almost a third of all tests by Dodo customers were below 1.5Mbps earlier in 2011, but that figure had fallen to less than a quarter by December.

(Credit: Phil Dobbie/ZDNet Australia)

This reduction in the number of "slowpokes" experiencing speeds less than 1.5Mbps has seen Dodo catch up when we look at the average speed recorded for all the major internet service providers (ISPs). Clearly, these figures are influenced by Telstra and Optus' HFC advantage, but we can see that all providers are seeing incremental speed growth over a very short time frame.

Imagine if all ISPs had access to the same infrastructure as Telstra and Optus. Wouldn't we expect to see average speeds of around 10Mbps, rather than the December average of 8.4Mbps? Do we really believe that this month-on-month growth will suddenly reach a ceiling?

For now, the need for speed is showing no sign of slowing. The big difference between providers demonstrates that it's infrastructure that is the constraint, not consumer choice.