“Second rate” NBN continues to disappoint

Another report has been released lambasting the embarrassingly low speeds of Australia’s $51 billion National Broadband Network (NBN):

The Measuring Broadband Australia Report has been tracking the performance of Australia’s broadband internet since 2017.

The eighth report, conducted by independent internet measurement and analysis platform SamKnows, was published by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on Wednesday.

It showed 11 per cent of NBN customers were not getting the speeds they were paying for.

While it’s a dire figure it is at least an improvement over the last reporting period, where one in every eight customers’ connections were underperforming.

A service is classed as underperforming if it can’t meet 75 per cent of its advertised speed at least one time in every 20 measurements, at which point it is closer to the speeds of the NBN bundle tier below it rather than the speed that’s advertised.

If you’re on one of those your service is underperforming if you can’t regularly achieve speeds above 37.5Mbps.

Same goes if you’re on the highest 100Mbps consumer plan but don’t regularly experience speeds over 75Mbps…

Of the 11 per cent of services that underperformed, 95 per cent of them were fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) connections…

That means that if you’re on one of those connections and you’re paying for a 50Mbps or 100Mbps plan, there’s a one-in-four chance you never come close to actually hitting those speeds.

Given the very generous leeway given to be classed as “underperforming” (i.e. 75% of advertised speeds one time in 20), this is another very poor result from the NBN.

It also follows other recent surveys, which showed similar poor speed performance.

For example, the Ookla fixed broadband speed rankings positioned Australia 68th place out of 177 nations, down three places from the prior year.

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.

Australia also ranked 32 out of 35 OECD nations for broadband speeds according to data compiled from the Australian Parliamentary Library:

Yesterday’s testimony from Professor Mark Gregory from RMIT says it all:

Prof Gregory said the NBN was “most certainly not value for money”.

“We’ve spent $51 billion on a second-rate, 20th-century network”…

In other words, the $51 billion NBN may already be obsolete.

Leith van Onselen
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  1. I have long given up on the speed! I would just be happy if the awful product actually stayed connected. My NBN is so unreliable as it just drops out randomly & for inconsistent times. Sometimes it just drops out & comes back & might do that 5 or 10 times an hour but other times it drops out & you have to do the equivalent of CTRL-ALT-DEL on the NBN box (i.e. unplug everything & wait for reboot). It is awful. The provider is useless. I am so glad I have 4G. My NBN reseller charges me a slug of a monthly fee but has no interest in fixing the issue. Probably in their defence they know it actually cannot be fixed. Fortunately in my business we have no involvement with NBN nor most common NBN resellers. And in my business the system hums along beautifully at much less of a price. Do not buy now the NBN & do not buy now from most resellers.

  2. Has anyone calculated what the equivalent cost would have been to this point if the roll out had stayed with the original fttp plan. Factoring in any tech cost reductions during the roll out plus not having to buy new copper wire to replace old copper wire.

    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      “Factoring in any tech cost reductions during the roll out”

      Im wondering if there has EVER been a “cost reduction” mid roll out on ANY Government contact at any time since Federation.

      • I haven’t researched the topic but I’m confident the answer is: No.

        That said I’m also pretty confident Mr Jones will be along soon to correct me

    • Switching to the mixed model cost an absolute fortune in retooling systems and workforce – plus the clusterfuck of sorting out what did/didn’t exist and could/couldn’t be used.

  3. desmodromicMEMBER

    I have a new FTTN connection and am 1 km from the node. Not a chance of getting the average 41 Mbps. The installer informed me that the max line speed was 27 Mbps, yet the ISP will happily let me upgrade to a more expensive plan with faster nominal download speeds.

  4. SoCalSkippehMEMBER

    Why was this NBN ever a thing? Private investment is totally viable for 95% of the population / service areas, so it should have been funded by private investment with a mix of competing technologies. Where it isn’t commercially viable (eg. rural and remote areas), governments can play a role to guarantee a level of service, by either investing directly or providing subsidies.

    • Because to have a normal functioning modern society you ABSOLUTELY NEED integrated utilities that function on standards. Water, electricity, sewerage, airlines, trains – it MUST be integrated and the same.

      Hence why ALL of these things from gas to electricity to telephone are built out and funded by government – absolutely everywhere and then sold off.

      Basically – what you have written is a deep, profound demonstration that you have zero idea about the history of how infrastructure and societies are built.

      • St JacquesMEMBER

        Exactly. In all the great success stories, from the US and Germany in the nineteenth century on, to Japan, then S. Korea and China, this was absolutely key along with public education and health.

        • SoCalSkippehMEMBER

          I am in California. I live in a low density neighbourhood of single family homes (new high rise have been pretty much prohibited in sight of the California coast in decades). I have a choice of 2 fixed-line ISPs offering 2 competing technologies, and I imagine at some point soon a 5G wireless option. One is coaxial cable (the lowest speed they offer is 200Mbps, on up to claimed Gigabit) the other is copper (I think) and starts about 50Mbps. Many streets have fibre, but not mine. My cable internet consistently tests over 220Mbps down using Ookla, but only 12Mbps up. These companies do compete, and they are forever trying to get me to switch by offering incentives and faster speeds. Speeds seem to keep going up, so they must be squeezing more out of it all the time, while the cost stays about the same. If they ever try to sneak in an increase I call them and they lower it again. As far as I know government was not involved in establishing either of these networks, and I am very happy. Why was this not viable in Australia?

      • You probably don’t realise it but you are quite the ideologue and your tone just a tad fascist / authoritarian too. This MUST be done and that MUST be done. How about you provide evidence rather than strident opinions? Mussolini INSISTED the trains run on time and they did! The people of Italy haven’t stopped thanking him for it.

    • NBN like landlines are a natural monopoly so economics of two lines past every property are very sick.

      Wireless web has developed much further and faster than originally guessed. But, you still need a good fibre network/backbone to allow wireless/mobile to work to its full potential.

      Problems started when following neo-liberal principles, Telstra was privatised in a bastardised way which led to current stuff-up accentuated by LNP favouring RupNews/Fox over good economic and technical principles :(.

  5. Netflix releases their 8K streaming service this year – and since most people in Melbourne struggle with standard definition 1080p and very few have 4k since it would break the internet (literally) – we also wont be getting 8k obviously.

    So we wont be having Google Stadia (online gaming platform), nor Apple or MIcrosofts online gaming – we have completely missed out on the single biggest revolution in computing with most universities and schools in Europe, Asia and America now transitioning to cloud based software with Chrome, Photoshop, Microsoft etc because they do not offer ANY of these services in Australia due to our internet.

    People really, REALLY do not understand how far behind Australia already is. We wont get these things until we install fiber – no, mobile will not work. No neither will Musks satellites.

    Basically we are a decade away at least. Places in Africa have these things.

  6. We have a staff member stuck in China but working well remotely with a good connection.

    Staff member near Gosford hasn’t had NBN working reliably for the last week.

    Might have to put her on a plane to China!

  7. Getting the NBN installed at my new place when I moved there in mid 2017 was the technological equivalent of being dangled upside down by the ankles in a tank of bubbling, fermenting diarrhoea for about 2 months or so. Since that refreshing experience I haven’t had any problems. A couple of dropouts maybe, and every time I’ve tested it I’ve achieved download speeds greater than 40M on a 50M plan. While it’s not super duper and I definitely don’t achieve the 50M that my plan laughably promises, it’s enough for my quite limited needs. I attribute the reliability to having fibre to the prem.

      • No, it was a green field new build. I just had to get the NBN techs to show up for 30 minutes to get it working. The fact that it took two months of constant phone calls and failure to get that to happen still gets my teeth grinding.

        • Got it. I assume that FTTP is not available to all? My understanding was that for most of us it was fibre up the street and copper from street to the home. At least that was meant to be the nub of the controversy as I understood it.

          • Yeah. New house in a new suburb fitted out for NBN from the get-go hence fibre all the way to the modem in the house. Everybody else gets fibre to a local node, then gets strangled by copper over the last few hundred metres to the premises.

            I enquired about alternatives during the connection debacle, and was advised that there were none in my new suburt. Land based internet was over NBN, and that was it.

    • darklydrawlMEMBER

      Telstra cable 3.0 – 120 M stable download – 5-15 upload. Peak times it might dip into the 90’s but not lower. And they want me to go to the NBN. Meh!

      • I feel sad.

        The only thing to console me is that once upon a time I was on ADSL2 about 5 km from the exchange and getting 1.5M down over rotten cable that dropped out every time it rained or got real hot with 4 teenagers in the house. This was in Canberra, the capital city of the nation, in 2015. More and more I’m coming to think that this is not a first world country. Not third world, either, but maybe second world or something.