NBN “Frankenstein monster” delivers “embarrasingly slow” speeds

Last month, the latest results from the Ookla fixed broadband speed rankings were released, which continued the downward trend that we have witnessed over the past decade with Australia now positioned 68th place out of 177 nations on these rankings, down three places from the prior year.

This slide in broadband speed rankings comes despite the ongoing rollout of the $51 billion National Broadband Network (NBN), which is nearing its completion.

According to Ookla, Australia’s average broadband speed was 41.8 megabits per second, way down from the global average of 73.6 megabits per second. The upload speed differential was even worse, with Australia coming in at 18.8 megabits per second versus the global average of 40.4 megabits per second.

The New Daily has published an interesting table, sourced from the Australian Parliamentary Library, which shows that Australia is also ranked 32 out of 35 OECD nations for broadband speeds:

The results have led to widespread condemnation of the NBN by telecommunications experts:

“Australia ranking so poorly in their results does clearly show that Australia’s broadband speeds are significantly behind most countries with comparable wealth, and most countries in our region,” [Curtin University associate professor of internet studies Tama Leaver] said.

Australian internet speeds are embarrassingly slow, and reveal just how poorly the NBN rollout has been managed.’’
The NBN was “supposed to future-proof Australian internet speeds and capacity and has, instead, failed to meet even the current speed and capacity requirements”, Dr Leaver said.

“The NBN should have included fibre to every home to ensure the expectation of working remotely, connecting remotely, and participating fully in the digital economy was possible,” he said.

Instead, the NBN is a Frankenstein’s monster of old and new parts, and the ultimate speeds rely on the oldest and weakest parts of the network.

“That’s why Australians have such poor speeds, and that’s a problem that was understood long before the NBN rollout began”…

RMIT telecommunications and network engineering academic Mark Gregory said the results show that the Coalition government’s NBN has failed to deliver for the nation.

After taking power in 2013, the Coalition government scuppered Labor’s plans for an NBN with 93 per cent fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) coverage, and has instead rolled out a network comprising a hotchpotch of old and new technologies of varying quality…

We have ample evidence now from other countries that the cost of rolling out fibre-to-the-premises would have continued to drop, in line with projections.

“And it is only by providing fibre-to-the-premises that you’re going to meet future demand.”

In short, Australia is facing a dastardly situation where the $51 billion NBN is obsolete by the time its roll-out is completed.

Leith van Onselen


  1. The NBN is proof that gubbermint should have more involvement in this country’s great economy. They’ve already done a splendid job ensuring the economy is propped up by property speculation. Now this $50bn turd.

  2. Can’t say I’ve ever heard a complaint from anyone who lucked out with the fibre version. Heard nothing but complaints about the Tony Turnbull version.

    • Had ftth for year then moved, now fttn and cant say I see a difference.
      It suits what I need, and I’m Joe average.
      Not a defence for the nbn, but are we measuring like for like systems ? Of the others,
      Which were govt built ?
      What land areas and population density
      Had private ent installed a lot of fibre, was there competition
      Did they have a Telstra like monopoly to deal with and hold up development
      What’s their rural coverage like

      • Carlos, the points you raise are valid as individual parts, but not as a whole and it’s the end result that matters.

        I agree that it would be unfair to compare Luxembourg to Australia. However Canada has a similar land mass and population to Australia and has internet speeds of 121 compared to our lousy 41 mbps

        Our government had exactly the same choices to make as other countries regarding the tech and didn’t choose the best one. If anything they took a good basic plan, neutered it and turned it into a dog.

      • Goldstandard1MEMBER

        Don’t forget the most important part.
        We have a lower quality of network that ended up costing what the FTTP would have anyway. Translation: we saved NOTHING and got a substandard service.
        Went went the cheap option but ended up paying premium anyway. A great example of doing it right in the first place.

  3. The stats are misleading for one reason.
    The measure actual speeds.

    Which are a reflection of the speed PAID FOR in most cases.

    If you’re selling 12 and 24mbit plans, you’re not going to end up at the top of that list.

    It’s kinda like comparing the top speeds of cars by standing at the side of a highway with a radar reading every passing car’s speed.

    M3: 100
    Corolla: 103
    Lambo: 98
    Datto: 101

    Headline: “Top speed of all cars nearly same. Corolla ranked fastest.”

  4. darklydrawlMEMBER

    Just got the NBN lettter today saying it is ‘coming soon’ to our suburb. Like hell – They are going to have to prise my current Telstra 120 Mbps cable connection from me. Nobody I know who has gone from dedicated cable to FTTN is pleased with the outcome. Meh!

    • I was on cable too. Magnificent, fast cable. Then, shortly before the NBN roll out, my beautiful cable started playing up. It’s almost like the bastards throttled it, or fcked it up when installing the NBN fibre. Anyway, miraculously, speeds went to shit just as my NBN kit arrived. Criminals! Allegedly…..

    • I am, but only because when Telstra shifted me from a 120mb cable plan to a 50/20 NBN plan I lodged a complaint and they bumped me to a 100/40 plan for the same cost. I’d be less pleased paying full whack for 100/40 (and I’d be doing it with ABB not Telstra).

      I’d rather have the 35mb more upload than 20mb more download.

  5. I’ve got FTTC & it is hopeless. Drop outs are regular & inconsistent. Next to impossible to get anyone to work out why it is so unreliable. You can’t talk to NBN & Internode, well they are absolutely useless. I am thankful that our 4G is very good & way cheaper.

    • I had some drop out issues early on fttn, tpg could not have been more helpful. Now rock solid, no issues 6 mths. Got sick of their followup calls making sure it was fixed and working ok