Download speeds not up to scratch

Thursday, 25 February, 2010

Research published by broadband comparison website www.broadbandexpert.com.au has found Australian internet service providers (ISPs) are delivering less than 50% of the download speeds spruiked in broadband plans.

Over the last six months (1 July 2009 - 31 December 2009), Broadband Expert has collected data from 11,089 speed tests which make miserable reading for internet users. The research asked consumers what the maximum ‘up to’ speed advertised from their broadband plan was and compared this to the actual speed achieved on Broadband Expert’s speed test.

The findings show most broadband providers fail to deliver anywhere near the maximum speeds quoted in their packages with the average speed just 48.89% of the quoted ‘up to’ download speed.

Rob Webber, Broadband Expert Commercial Director, is calling for Australian broadband providers to quote the average speed of their plan.

“There needs to be more transparency so consumers can see which ISPs are most likely to reliably deliver good speeds. Ideally, ISPs should quote the average speed achievable in the customer’s area so they can make a more informed choice.”

Webber points out pressure on ISPs from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to change the way they advertise theoretical speeds has meant that during late 2009 some providers stopped quoting download speeds for their plans altogether.

Broadband Expert’s findings are based on those that do quote maximum download speeds or the data of those that did before the regulatory change. “Whilst the ACCC prevent ISPs from quoting unrealistic ‘up to’ download speeds by quoting no speed at all, this will lead to consumers having little idea of what to expect from their broadband connection and less information available when choosing an ISP.

“Furthermore, there is a danger by not publishing these figures that there will be no benchmark to judge ISPs by and less incentive for ISPs to improve speeds.”

Broadband Expert data shows that Australian broadband speeds average a lowly 3.5 Mbps with some providers recording average speeds as low as 2.3 Mbps. The fastest provider in Broadband Expert’s latest report is Optus which clocked an average download speed of 5.3 Mbps.

Broadband Expert also measured the average upload speed of ISPs, which is a measure of the speed that data is transmitted back over the internet, an important factor for activities such as online gaming. The average upload speed was recorded at 0.5 Mbps, with TPG Internet leading the way with an average of 0.6 Mbps.

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