The ACCC’s latest Measuring Broadband Australia quarterly report reveals that in May 2021 consumers on fixed-line NBN broadband connections again experienced record high speeds. Most consumers received their maximum plan speeds more often in the busy evening hours of 7pm to 11pm.
The report shows that the average download performance in May was 98.4 per cent of plan speed during all hours, and 97.6 per cent during the busy hours. Dodo and iPrimus, both part of the Vocus Group, improved by 5.4 percentage points during all hours and busy hours compared to the previous report, which was the largest improvement of the telcos over the quarter.
The results suggest that the Vocus brands have improved their service quality monitoring methods, after the Federal Court found that they historically had not used an appropriate speed testing methodology.
Vodafone and MyRepublic also improved their busy hours speeds over the quarter by 4.3 and 3.7 percentage points respectively, compared to the previous report.
Retail service providers achieved between 92.2 percent and 100.5 percent of plan speed across all major NBN plans during busy hours. This is a range of 8.3 percent between retail service providers, compared with a range of 12.3 percent in the previous report.
“The performance gap between retail service providers’ download speed metrics has narrowed significantly in recent reports, however individual consumer experiences by retailer still vary,” ACCC Commissioner Anna Brakey said.
The report shows that in May 2021, consumers on ‘Home Ultrafast’ NBN plans experienced average speeds between 617 and 715Mbps. Between 7pm and 11pm, performance fell by 14 percent on average compared with the day’s maximum.
Home Ultrafast are plans where the underlying wholesale product sold by NBN Co has a download speed range of 500-990Mbps.
“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,” Ms 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.”
Underperforming services decrease, but too many remain
The proportion of underperforming services in the ACCC’s NBN fixed-line sample decreased from 8.1 percent in February 2021 to 6.2 percent in May 2021.
When the ACCC first started reporting in May 2018, 13.9 percent of services were underperforming but testing results over time have shown a gradual decline. This is likely due to two main factors: technical in-home wiring issues being addressed for monitored fibre to the node services; and, retail service providers moving consumers onto plan speeds that their service can achieve.
However, fibre to the node connections are still not performing as well as other network connections. The report shows that consumers on 50Mbps and 100Mbps fibre to the node plans received lower speeds than the maximum plan speeds at any given time.
“There is a persistent cohort of fibre to the node customers that are still experiencing slower than expected speeds, and NBN Co and retailers have been slow to address this,” Ms Brakey said.
“While it’s encouraging that some of the fibre to the node services we monitor are improving, especially given the additional investment announced by NBN Co last year, retailers and NBN Co need to collectively do more.”