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Australia's got no upload: New Zealand picks up broadband Bledisloe crown

The Australian National Broadband Network is held back by artificial restraints and shocking upload speeds.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor
Image:bluebay -- Shutterstock

Much like the All Blacks taking down another shoddy and patched-as-well-as-can-be Wallabies outfit, the NBN never stood a chance against New Zealand's Ultra-Fast Broadband, as the two networks were compared in a report released by the consumer watchdogs on either side of the Tasman.

The Trans-Tasman Measuring Broadband report compared 100/20Mbps plans on full fibre and HFC connections in Australia, and full fibre in NZ, as well as full-fibre only NBN Ultrafast against NZ Fibre Max plan, and fixed wireless connections. The multi-technology mix connectivity used in Australia was not compared to NZ's fibre network presumably because some sort of mercy rule kicked in.

For the 100Mbps plan shootout, the NZ network was slightly faster down, a mere 0.1Mbps, significantly quicker on uploads, 18.2Mbps versus 22.3Mbps, had lower latency, and had slightly fewer average weekly outages, 1.1 each week against 0.9 each week.

Despite Australia having a mandated higher level of overprovisioning -- a full 15% thanks to the brains trust at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) compared to NZ retailers deciding themselves and averaging out around the 10% mark -- Australia dipped below NZ speeds during the busy hour period.

"The percentage of households attaining average download speeds above 100Mbps is higher in New Zealand than in Australia both during and outside of busy hours," the report said.

"Fibre 100 had a lower average latency than NBN 100/20, and latency increased more during busy hours on NBN 100/20 than on Fibre 100."

The report warned Australian users that NBN has a higher rate of packet loss.

"The proportion of households having an average rate of packet loss above 1% is higher in Australia," the report said.

"At this level of packet loss, some end-user applications will not run as intended."

In the questionable metric stakes, the report said NZ 100Mbps lines could handle a median of eight simultaneous UHD Netflix streams and the NBN could only manage a median of seven.

On the approaching 1Gbps plan in each nation, the Aussie network was spanked. NZ clocked 808Mbps against 746Mbps for download speed, with an average upload speed of 507Mbps against a piddly 46Mbps in Australia, and the NZ network had almost half the outage rate, 0.9 versus 0.5.

Although it approached Fibre Max speeds in the dead of night -- around 840Mbps against 860Mbps -- as the day progressed, the NBN Ultrafast plan got slower and slower, and at the busiest time almost got as low as 700Mbps. The NZ plan dipped down to just under 800Mbps.

The only relief for the NBN was its fixed wireless network compared better than fixed line did.

Australia had an average download speed of 36Mbps compared to 29Mbps and a better outage rate of 1.3 per week against 4.2 in New Zealand. On uploads though, it was a familiar story with the Australian network only able to cough up 4Mbps, while the Kiwi network quadrupled it to record 17Mbps.

To rub in the Australian loss, New Zealand telecommunications commissioner Tristan Gilbertson pointed out the best was yet to come.

"In the period since testing for this report was conducted, fibre wholesalers, including Chorus, have begun offering increased speeds of 300Mbps on the 100Mbps wholesale fibre connections at no extra cost to retailers, which means we now have even faster internet compared to Australia," Gilbertson said.

Chorus has been offering plans labelled as Hyperfibre at speeds of 2Gbps, 4Gbps, and 8Gbps since October 2020.

By contrast in Australia, NBN wants to increase prices for decades to come on plans of 100Mbps and faster at a rate of inflation plus 3%.

What a lucky country Australia is.

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