Internet service provider (ISP) Aussie Broadband is delivering the fastest peak-hour NBN download speeds of Australia’s six major nationwide ISPs, according to a new OpenSignal analysis that found Telstra offers the most consistent connections and Optus is best for uploads and watching video.
The broadband benchmarking company’s newly released Fixed Broadband Experience June report – which analysed the real-world usage of fixed broadband services collected between November and April – found Aussie Broadband customers enjoying average peak speeds of 257.1Mbps, well ahead of those delivered by rival National Broadband Network (NBN) ISP Optus (143.7Mbps), TPG (136.6Mbps), Vodafone (135.9Mbps), and Telstra (134.6Mbps).
The company also delivered the fastest average broadband download speeds (43.5Mbps), outpacing competitors including second-place Optus (40.5Mbps) and fifth-place TPG (36.3Mbps).
Telstra delivered the most consistent broadband quality nationwide, with an average of 80.1 per cent of tests successful – well ahead of fifth-place TPG (64.0 per cent).
Optus was best for uploading data – with average broadband upload speeds of 11.8Mbps ahead of its three biggest rivals, and Vodafone (7.5Mbps) bringing up the rear.
Optus also inched out its rivals when it came to broadband video experience – a subjective measure, based on users’ perceptions of video quality, that means all of the top five were, OpenSignal noted, able to stream video at 1080p quality or better with what OpenSignal principal analyst Sam Fenwick called “satisfactory loading times and little stalling”.
The report – OpenSignal’s first Australia-only analysis – reflects performance data collected for a range of services including video streaming, gaming, remote work, application updates, video chatting, social media photo and video sharing, and web browsing.
“To gain a comprehensive understanding of how broadband providers’ experiences compare, it is necessary to evaluate multiple categories,” Fenwick noted. “One measure alone cannot fully encompass the broad range of applications and services that broadband services support.”
The analysis also breaks down the results by city, highlighting significant differences in performance between major capital cities.
Melbourne customers of Aussie Broadband, for example, had the fastest peak downloads – 292.5Mbps – while the ISP was also fastest in Perth, but with a peak of just 212.9MBps.
iiNet customers in Perth had the slowest peak speeds of any capital city, recording an average of just 94.3Mbps.
TPG had the overall lowest average broadband consistency – connecting in just 57.5 per cent of tests in Melbourne and Perth and 62.3 per cent in Sydney – while Vodafone placed last on this measure in Brisbane (66.3 per cent) and Adelaide (61.1 per cent).
There is a difference
The consistency of the results across multiple categories, both all day and during peak times, highlights the performance variability that NBN customers still experience depending on where they live and which service provider they choose.
This includes the performance impact of the range of last-mile broadband technologies introduced with the multi-technology mix (MTM) rollout approach a decade ago – a lingering gap that the current government has committed to closing by 2025, when it will have rolled out fibre broadband connections to 1 million more homes.
The outcomes of OpenSignal’s benchmarking were reflected in the latest quarterly Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) figures, which saw what ombudsman Cynthia Gebert called “a dramatic increase in consumers complaining to us about problems with the quality of their Internet service.”
Complaints particularly related to issues included getting connected to an NBN service, billing issues, and service quality issues “such as drop-outs and slow data speeds” – feeding a 7 per cent overall quarterly increase in complaints about fixed broadband services.
This included a 13 per cent increase in complaints from broadband customers experiencing problems with NBN service quality, and a 32 per cent increase in complaints about intermittent service or dropouts.
Associate professor Mark Gregory, an associate professor within the RMIT University School of Engineering, blamed the continuing high levels of TIO complaints on the “lack of realistic penalties for poor service” and argued that “only a fundamental change to the regulatory environment will force the telecommunications industry to adopt a consumer-friendly business model.”
The government, he argued, “should introduce minimum service quality standards and provide the ACCC with additional regulatory power” to focus on the “underlying issues that restrict the ability of the telecommunications industry to provide improved services with lower monthly charges.”