NBN speeds up but many FTTN services underperforming, ACCC says

Quarter of 50Mbps and 100Mbps FTTN services not delivering advertised maximum speeds

The latest broadband performance data released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) reveals that NBN speeds have generally improved. However, the ACCC said that a significant proportion of fibre to the node (FTTN) services continue to deliver substandard performance.

The ACCC said that 13 per cent of households participating in the speed monitoring platform could never achieve close to the advertised maximum speed of their broadband service. That included one in four of the FTTN services that had wholesale maximum speeds of 50 megabits per second or 100Mbps.

Overall, FTTN services delivered 80 per cent of the maximum plan speed during the monitoring period of 1 February to 28 February, compared to 90.9 per cent for hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) services and 91 per cent for those homes connected by fibre to premises (FTTP).

The report draws on data from 940 NBN services, 12.7 per cent of which were categorised as “underperforming”, which means that during the test period they did not achieve a speed that approaches the maximum plan speed.

“These are essentially services that the RSP supplies to a consumer with a maximum plan speed that cannot be attained due to specific physical limitations affecting the service,” the report prepared by UK firm SamKnows for the ACCC states.

Of the retail service providers (RSPs) covered by the report, TPG offered the best overall download performance in February, delivering an average 89 per cent of maximum plan speed (and 88.3 per cent during peak usage periods) for downloads. It was followed by Aussie Broadband (86.9 per cent and 85.9 per cent during busy hours), and Optus (85.8 per cent, and 85 per cent during peak periods).

In February, RSPs delivered an average download performance of 85.4 per cent of the wholesale plan speed, and 84.7 per cent in the peak usage period of 7pm to 11pm. Excluding services categorised by SamKnows as “underperforming” pushes the overall median download speed closer to 90 per cent, the report states.

“RSPs need to continue to monitor their networks to ensure their speed claims are realistic, and we expect NBN Co and RSPs to work harder together to help consumers achieve the speeds they are paying for,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

“We will be watching to see how companies respond to customers who aren’t getting the advertised speeds on their current plans, and we will act on misleading speed and performance claims made by providers.”

“Consumers should also ask whether their service could be being affected by in-house wiring issues, which in many cases can be remedied through a visit from a technician,” Sims said.

NBN Co’s responsibility for performance ends at the boundary of a home or business. However, the company has conducted a trial that sought to address in-home wiring shortcomings, which it found could deliver an average increase in attainable downstream line rate of 11 megabits per second, as well as reduce dropouts. 

Shadow communications minister Michelle Rowland has said a Labor government would put $125 million towards addressing in-home wiring problems.

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Tags Networkingnbn coTelecommunicationsNational Broadband Network (NBN)Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)

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