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Telstra rises as the new ACCC NBN speed report king

As Australian telcos advertise higher speeds on NBN plans, the ability to hit those speeds during evenings has taken a dive.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor
Image: ACCC

On Tuesday, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) released its latest Measuring Broadband Australia report, and it would appear Telstra is the new speed king.

Going across all NBN fixed-line plans, Exetel and Optus lead the way followed by Telstra, MyRepublic, and TPG. But once underperforming services are removed, Telstra smokes the field, followed by Optus, Exetel, MyRepublic, and TPG.

What seals the deal for Telstra is its performance during busy hours, where it is still able to hit its advertised 50Mbps and 100Mbps speed claims during busy hours.

MyRepublic and TPG can also lay claim to being able to hit their advertised speeds, but TPG only states it will hit 90Mbps on 100Mbps NBN plans, and MyRepublic currently says it will only hit 93Mbps.

Compared to the June edition of the report, it looks as though most telcos have taken a hit and slowed down during busy hours, however that's not the complete picture as telcos have been increasing their advertised speeds. It's entirely possible that users are having a better experience with higher throughput, but telcos are failing to hit their stated claims.

The starkest in this report was Superloop only hitting its advertised speed during busy hours 48% of the time, compared to 93% in June, but its advertised speed has increased to 100% of 50Mbps and 100Mbps plans when it was previously around the 90% mark.

Similarly, previous speed king Optus, dropped from 100% down to 93% while its claims rose from 90% to 100%.

This would be a lot easier to decipher if the ACCC published raw Mbps speeds instead of playing games with percentages.

Elsewhere in the report, Aussie Broadband has seen its error rate blow out, doubling its 0.18 daily outage rate to 0.36. This increase occurred as every other telco tested saw a dropping error rate. Aussie Broadband has not responded to questions on why it is bucking the trend.

The report also stated the bleeding obvious when discussing the ACCC mandated overprovisioning of downsteam speeds because the consumer watchdog tests speeds at layer 7 while NBN is mandated to provide layer 2 connectivity.

"Overprovisioning of many NBN services, which began in June 2020, remains in effect and has enabled an increase in average download speeds by around 10% to 15% compared with a February 2020 baseline," the report said.

This has not stopped the likes of Telstra telling users they have been given a speed boost rather than a wholesaler turning the metaphorical dial on its plans.

Unfortunately for fixed wireless users, the report showed a more expected result during busy hours, when last time out it had a peak at 11pm. For users on the 50/10Mbps plans, speeds dropped to 21Mbps at 8pm, and upload speeds never went much higher than 6Mbps and dropped under 4Mbps at 8pm.

"While the significant decrease typically occurs during the busy hours (between 7pm and 11pm), there was also a notable decrease from midday, with speeds dipping to 10Mbps below the day's maximum speed and remaining at that level during the course of the afternoon," the report said.

The ACCC also noted some users on 1Gbps plans not getting high speeds thanks to not using ports capable of such speeds.

"Our testing has revealed that some volunteers on very high speed plans are unable to receive speeds above 100Mbps to connected devices due to limitations on Ethernet ports on some home gateways. We encourage consumers on these higher speed plans to contact their retail service providers to check that they have equipment that can support their plan speeds," ACCC Commissioner Anna Brakey said.

"We expect retailers to take appropriate steps to assist affected customers on NBN250 plans and above, both when offering these plans and for existing customers who may require replacement home gateways, or the option to move to a suitable plan speed."

The August edition of the report covered measurements made during the May reporting period. 

Image: ACCC

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