FTTN speed bump for NBN

Published on the 12/02/2019 | Written by Heather Wright

FTTN broadband speed tests

Improvements needed, says ACCC…

Fibre to the node connections are putting a damper on Australia’s broadband speed testing, accounting for most underperforming services in the latest ACCC Measuring Broadband Australia report.

The ACCC says while fixed line NBN customers received generally good levels of service during the latest round of speed tests conducted in November, underperforming services, which represent about 13 percent of all tested connections and are mostly FTTN, continued to ‘significantly’ impact overall download speed tests.

“These services never come close to delivering the maximum speed promised, because of either limitations with some FTTN lines or connection issues such as in-house wiring faults,” the ACCC says.

The figures are hardly a surprise, with FTTN long touted as a barrier for high speed connections. However, the report is the first time the testing, carried out by SamKnows, has broken out speed results by NBN technology.

“These services never come close to delivering the maximum speed promised, because of either limitations with some FTTN lines or connection issues.”

On average, NBN customers were able to access 84.3 percent of the promised speed, with the figure dropping to 82.2 percent during peak evening hours of 7pm to 11pm.

Lower speed plans generally provided more of their promised speeds, with 25/5Mbps delivering 91.2 percent, 50/20Mbps delivering just 82.4% and 100/40 delivering 83.8%.

FTTN recorded download performance markedly less than for other NBN technologies, with overall download performance of 79.6 percent, compared to 88.9 percent for fibre to the premise connections and 88.1 percent for HFC. However, when underperforming services were removed from the equation, FTTN download performance improved dramatically to 89.1 percent – just behind FTTP’s 89.4 percent and HFC’s 89.5 percent.

“This indicates that addressing the causes of underperformance of FTTN connections in particular would promote equivalent speed outcomes for customers currently on the same NBN plan regardless of the NBN access technology used to supply them,” the report says.

The  comments – and the breaking out of speeds by individual access technologies – comes as the beleaguered NBN looks set to be a policy feature in the upcoming Federal elections. Across the Tasman, New Zealand’s rival ultrafast broadband project, has seen a relatively smooth rollout, with unlimited gigabit data an increasingly affordable option for Kiwis.

Late last year NBN admitted 1.3 percent of its FTTN connections weren’t meeting the 25Mbps peak speed promise required by the government after the 18-month co-existence period (and its restrictions of bolstering speeds) was lifted.

The ACCC has been encouraging consumers to chase up their internet service providers about poorer than expected speeds, something chair Rod Sims again reiterated with the launch of the latest figures.

“We encourage customers who aren’t getting the maximum speeds to contact their internet service provider to ask whether the problem can be fixed or about moving onto a cheaper plan,” he says.

The latest report includes testing for Dodo, iPrimus and Exetel.

TPG delivered most closely to the promised maximum speeds, at 87.3 percent overall and 86.1 percent during peak times, followed by Aussie Broadband at 85.7 percent/84.8 percent. Optus, at 85.0 percent/82.7 percent, iiNet at 83.7 percent/79.8 percent and Telstra at 83.3 percent/82.7 percent rounded out the top five.

Sixty-five percent of all tests achieved download speeds of more than 90 percent of their maximum plan speeds, down from 69 percent in August reporting, with 7.4 percent failing to achieve at least 50 percent of the maximum speeds.

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