Tue, 06 Oct 2020 - 12:32
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The NBN has performed strongly during the COVID-19 period

COVID has been a big test for the NBN, as millions of Australians moved to working and studying from home – and so really, really needed a good quality broadband connection.

Did the NBN meet the test?  A good place to find the answer is the ACCC’s latest Measuring Broadband Australia, released last week.

The numbers in the report show the NBN has performed strongly – with speeds and performance in May and June, compared to a February pre-COVID baseline, despite the high demands on the network during this time.

All retail service providers tested demonstrated similar or improved download speeds across all speed tiers.

The average download speed for NBN services was 88.5 per cent of maximum plan speeds across all hours, and slightly lower at 87.6 per cent during busy hours – both measures around two percentage points higher than for February.

This means that a majority of Australians are getting the internet speeds they signed up for.

By contrast, on the relatively small number of services still using the old technology of DSL, speeds were much lower – an average of 10 Mbps across all hours and 9.4 Mbps during busy hours.

There remains a small share of services where the speed the customer gets is considerably less than what is promised under the plan.  But pleasingly this share is getting smaller, down to 8.1 per cent (compared to 9.6 per cent for February) due to the efforts by NBN Co and retailers to address these services, predominantly in the Fibre to the Node (FTTN) footprint. 

These underperforming services will be assisted by NBN Co’s announcement of a $50 million program to target in home wiring for some FTTN customers.

NBN’s good performance is likely to get even better in months and years ahead – as NBN Co rolls out its $4.5 billion network upgrade plan, including upgrades across the FTTN, Fibre to the Curb (FTTC) and Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) networks.

Under this plan, by 2023 three quarters of homes on the fixed line network will be able to order a service with a speed of up to 1 Gbps.

The Measuring Broadband Australia report also demonstrates improved speeds across all states and territories, although Western Australia was not included in this report due to test servers being affected.

The results show that not only were Australian consumers and businesses well connected and supported during the COVID-19 pandemic, they can expect to see further improvements in speed and reliability in the future as NBN Co invests further in the network.