NBN passes initial virus stress test

A few weeks back there were concerns that Australia’s beleaguered National Broadband Network (NBN) would struggle to cope with extra user demand as large numbers of Australians work from home and access online streaming services:

NBN Co said it had already seen a rise in demand during both working hours and the peak evening usage period, and was anticipating this to reach “unprecedented” levels as the virus spread. Telstra warned customers increased traffic could lead to slower-than-usual services.

Thankfully, the NBN has passed the initial stress test, with Ookla Speedtest showing that Australia’s broadband services have so far maintained speed levels; although mobile networks have fared worse:

It’s still early days for our migration “home” but so far, the stats show that our fixed broadband is holding up somewhat better than our mobile networks.

While there are plenty of doubts about the capability of the NBN, perhaps even the longer-term viability the data shows that – so far at least – it seems to have held up to the extra pressure it’s under.

The data from other countries clearly shows a drop in the median download speeds as users spend more and more time at home, our fixed services haven’t deteriorated yet. This could be partly due to the bandwidth boost from NBN Co. Another influence could be thanks to the reduction in the streaming video quality offered by some services. What this does show that something is going right and users are getting a consistent service and data speed delivery…

Sadly the same can’t be said for our mobile networks data delivery with a noticeable decrease in speeds during the same period…

With Australia inevitably headed into full lock down, the situation could deteriorate. But for now it is a case of ‘so far, so good’ for the NBN.

Leith van Onselen


  1. Short CapitalismMEMBER

    @Leith – accidentally included the Fixed Broadband graph for the mobile section.

  2. https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/health-problems/coronavirus-australia-less-deaths-hospitalisations-in-first-1000-cases/news-story/20d92384fdcb1bdcd8ddeaf3630d1030

    Maybe unique and surprising and maybe not. Would like to see a comparison against other countries with universal health cover and those that don’t. Healthier population less deaths. Also Australia has run a successful campaign to significantly reduce smoking in this countries for years. Given WuFlu is respatory virus I would like to suggest the low number of existing smokers in this country compared to others could be the reason.

      • PalimpsestMEMBER

        @surfless. 1. Comparative smoking rates are available. Try googling it. 2. This is primarily a respiratory disease. Try googling it. 3. Smoking affects ACE2 receptor sites and NCov-2 uses the ACE2 receptor to gain entry to the cell.

        Even so, initial cases do not give a good picture. In Germany it initially spread in younger people coming back from overseas and their peers. Give it a few months and we’ll see how our pattern looks.

  3. Jumping jack flash

    I haven’t experienced any significant issues and I have an additional 3 work PCs connected to my home network for my research work. Admittedly they aren’t all sucking down bandwidth at the same time. I just received an email about working from home next week as well. I don’t mind.

    The kids are watching Netflix, ticktock and youtube in their breaks between doing their “online learning” which amounts to a few PDF worksheets on their class portal. I’m having daily video conferences with work and clients. All in all it seems not too bad.

    I guess it comes down to whether you live in an area where there are a lot of people telecommuting. I don’t think there’s a great deal where I live. Mostly tradies and bogans around me in North Brissy.