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Australian government develops its own metrics and ranks NBN highly

Department of Communications has chosen to deny reality and impose a view of its own.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

A year after NBN decided it didn't like the idea of speed tests as a broadband measurement, the viewpoint has spilled over to the Bureau of Communications, Arts and Regional Research (BCARR).

In the case of the BCARR, it has paid PricewaterhouseCoopers to develop metrics that are more suitable to it. On the hit list was tossing out perennial chart-toppers like South Korea and Singapore.

"No country is easily comparable to another. For example, by global standards, Australia is wealthy and highly urbanised, but our population is also spread across a vast landmass," the BCARR said.

"Our income and geography mean that Australia is more readily comparable with Canada than with city states like Singapore, or densely-populated countries such as the United Kingdom."

With Singapore on the outer, the list of comparable countries included a country only 17 places higher in a ranking of places by geographic size, Qatar. The other nations deemed worthy of comparison included Switzerland, Norway, Ireland, the United States, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Finland, Germany, Belgium, Canada, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Israel, France, Japan, and Italy.

Consequently, BCARR claims its analysis showed that Australia placed eighth out of 17 for the ranking of percentage of households able to access fixed broadband, but when the question changed to connections that could hit the 25Mbps-capable requirement imposed on NBN, Australia ranked first.

Once the bar is raised to 100Mbps, Australia is 10th.

After releasing its pair of so-called fact sheets, the BCARR said that it would follow up with more in the coming weeks. Two areas touched on that are currently without analysis are uptake of higher speeds plans and data usage.

Last year, in a report prepared by AlphaBeta for NBN, small countries were also tossed aside, and the report made a lot of complaints about various measures being biased against NBN, before switching to theoretical maximums.

"Australia's ranking would rise even further if the maximum technical capacity of the broadband technology were accounted for. In this case, Australia's ranking would rise as high as third compared to major economies," it said.

If we are going to engage in magical thinking, consider where Australia would rank if it remained on a 93% fibre-to-the-premises network -- the theoretical maximums would be sky high.

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