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Australians want 1Gbps but half cannot name current speed: MyRepublic

Whatever it is New Zealand has, we want that, and Australians hate ADSL, says commissioned survey.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Australians are dissatisfied, want faster internet speeds, and are looking to New Zealand as model for how broadband should be priced, a survey conducted by Galaxy and commissioned by ISP MyRepublic has said.

Half of those surveyed did not know what their home broadband speed was, but that did not stop 65 percent of all respondents saying they wanted increased speed, and 76 percent saying they wanted internet speeds of 1Gbps or more. Three-quarters of ADSL users surveyed said they were unhappy with their connection speeds.

MyRepublic touted 34 percent of NBN-connected respondents saying their speed was good enough to run a home business, however 61 percent of those aged 24 to 34 said their NBN connection was satisfactory to run a business.

An overwhelming majority, 85 percent, wanted a price level similar to New Zealand and not one around the AU$400 mark that MyRepublic claimed previously.

"The research also sends a clear message to the nation's ISP's [sic] and government: Australians are dissatisfied with their slow home internet speeds, they want 1Gbps speeds or more, they are worried about losing the digital economy race, and believe we are getting a raw deal compared to our Kiwi cousins," the company said.

Managing director of MyRepublic Australia Nicholas Demos said the pricing model used by NBN needs to be reviewed.

"In the other countries MyRepublic operate [sic] in, the wholesale network (equivalent to NBN in Australia) provide[s] alternative pricing models that allow us to deliver affordable speeds of up to 1Gbps to the consumer market," he said.

"The current finger pointing between RSP's [sic] and NBN on who is to blame for poor network speeds is not constructive and we would rather focus our energies on ensuring the combined AVC/CVC wholesale price regime works for everyone -- the wholesale provider, RSP, and the end consumer."

In a speech delivered last week, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims said retailers had struck out at claims from NBN CEO Bill Morrow that Australians are not interested in taking up the higher speed tiers NBN offers.

"The fact is, NBN already offers a wholesale 1Gbps product to retail service providers (RSPs), which RSPs can make available to more than 1.5 million homes, and has been on sale for around four years," Morrow said in February.

"Currently, there are no retail 1Gbps speed plans on offer from the retailers. This is, in our opinion, because there is still minimal consumer demand for these ultra-fast speeds -- especially at the prices retailers would have to charge for them."

Speaking on Thursday, Sims said ISPs laid the blame at the feet of the connectivity virtual circuit (CVC) charge.

"For RSPs the answer was clear. The general view we heard (from both large and smaller RSPs) was that with current CVC pricing, many were reluctant to sell these services," Sims said.

"That is, far from consumers not wanting higher speeds, RSPs were often not seeking to sell them, at least not at prices consumers are willing to pay. We heard their view that AU$60 per month is the average price point in the market for NBN services."

Sims said some retailers felt the CVC was more suited to a pure fibre to the premises network, where speed tiers could be guaranteed, something that is not possible under the multi-technology mix NBN that embraces fibre to the node.

Last month, NBN introduced a new CVC pricing model that saw retailers charged on their individual averages rather than an industry average.

"The new discount model is good news for both retailers and consumers. It is encouraging to see retailers embrace the new model and work with NBN to improve the consumer experience," NBN executive general manager for Product and Pricing Sarah Palmer said at the time.

"It will encourage the supply of more bandwidth for consumers at home and at work, leading to a better internet experience overall."

Later in June, Vocus Communications CEO Geoff Horth said the impact of NBN's wholesale pricing will be to adversely affect either customer experience or the cost of accessing the high-speed broadband service.

"We have a difference in interpretation of what the [network traffic] growth profile is going to be like versus what NBN thinks," Horth said last month.

"Either customer experience or the cost is going to be compromised as a result ... when you're building a high-speed broadband network, this is counter-intuitive."

Horth said he didn't understand why such a high proportion of the cost is variable, yet the building of the network is a fixed cost.

"I think something's got to give," he said.

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