While fixed-line NBN customers generally had good speed levels during recent ACCC broadband speed tests, some customers experienced a dip in speeds.

The ACCC’s latest Measuring Broadband Australia report expands the number of retail service providers (RSPs) to include Dodo, iPrimus and Exetel, enabling the report to cover a wider range of price points.

The performance of most RSPs remained steady across the busy evening hours of 7pm to 11pm, but TPG and iiNet experienced a decline in download speed performance compared to the previous quarter.

Download speeds during the busiest hour – when RSP networks were under the most stress during the 30-day testing period – were significantly lower than at other busy times.

The performance of different RSPs in managing this congestion varied considerably, ranging from 71.8 per cent of the maximum plan speed to as low as 48.3 per cent.

The ACCC believes the drop in speeds may have resulted from retailers migrating their customers to new wholesale NBN products launched in October 2018.

ACCC Chair, Rod Sims, said, “It is good to see that providers have generally managed the transition to NBN Co’s new wholesale products without too much impact on customers.

“We will await the next round of speed testing results with interest, to see if providers have improved their performance.”

Underperforming services, which represent about 13 per cent of all tested connections and are mostly fibre to the node (FTTN), continued to significantly impact the overall download speed results.

These services never come close to delivering the maximum speed promised, because of either limitations with some FTTN lines, or connection issues such as in-house wiring faults.

“We encourage customers who aren’t getting the maximum speeds to contact their internet service provider to ask whether the problem can be fixed or about moving onto a cheaper plan,” Mr Sims said.

This report includes, for the first time, a breakdown of speed results by NBN technology, reporting the performance of fibre to the premise (FTTP), FTTN and hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) networks.

The results show FTTP and HFC services deliver about 86 per cent to 87 per cent of maximum plan speeds at busy hours, compared to about 79 per cent for FTTN. However when underperforming services are removed, the results are comparable for all technologies, at almost 88 per cent. This demonstrates that with further work, many more FTTN customers could expect to see similar speeds on their current plans as customers on other NBN technologies.

All the NBN broadband technologies are currently delivering a faster broadband experience than ADSL, where the average speed is just 8.5Mbps during busy hours.

“We expect NBN Co and RSPs’ focus to remain on fixing speed-related problems and ensuring consumers receive good speeds on their current plans, regardless of which NBN fixed-line technology is supplied to them,” Mr Sims said.

Lauren ‘LJ’ Butler is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and has been part of the team at Monkey Media since 2018.

After completing a Bachelor of Media, Communications and Professional Writing at the University of Wollongong in 2014, and prior to writing about the utility sector, LJ worked as a Journalist and Sub Editor across the horticulture, hardware, power equipment, construction and accommodation industries with publishers such as Glenvale Publications, Multimedia Publishing and Bean Media Group.

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