Australia: slow speeds, but prices down

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Wednesday, 10 January, 2018

Australia: slow speeds, but prices down

Australia ranks a dismal 55th worldwide by average fixed broadband speeds, placing it below countries including Kazakhstan, Estonia and Belarus, according to the latest Speedtest rankings from Ookla.

Australia's average broadband speeds of 25.88 Mbps for December saw it fall two places on the global rankings. It places Australia well below the global average of 40.71 Mbps.

But Australia continued to rank relatively highly in terms of mobile broadband speeds, with the 48.87 Mbps average placing the nation in seventh place — down from sixth in November.

Australia's average speeds actually improved by 1.5 Mbps for fixed broadband and more than 4 Mbps for mobile broadband, but this growth was outpaced by more rapid improvements overseas.

On the bright side, major nbn providers have been reducing their prices after nbn co announced a reduction of wholesale prices in December. The price cut, aimed at improving adoption of the 50 Mbps tier speed plans, is being passed on to consumers as hoped.

Telstra has upgraded the speed of its $80 or higher plans to 50 Mbps, resulting in monthly savings of $20.

Optus is providing a free six-month 50 Mbps speed pack on its $80 plans, translating to savings of $15, while TPG has dropped the price of its 50 Mbps plan to the price of its previous base 25 Mbps plan, for savings of $15, and has now abolished its 25 Mbps option altogether.

According to reports, take-up of 50 Mbps nbn plans has already improved to around 25% to 30%, from just 5% prior to the price cuts.

Meanwhile regulator ACMA is introducing new rules on nbn co retail service providers to improve the customer experience involved with migrating to the nbn.

The new rules will specify the minimum information that operators must provide about their network services before they sign consumers up.

Operators will also be held to minimum standards for complaint handling processes and be required to report their complaint numbers to the regulator. They will also have to line test new services on the network to ensure the early identification of faults.

The rules will also require operators to reconnect consumers to their legacy network services if a fall-back is needed while the new service is being connected.

ACMA Chair Nerida O'Loughlin said the new rules have been imposed after an analysis of industry data showed that 44.3% of network-related complaints for the three months ending in June last year were about connection issues, with the remainder being about service quality including faults and speed.

"We have had strong concerns for some time about how telcos are helping consumers move to the new network. These concerns have been borne out by our recent analysis of industry's own data," she said.

"This evidence — and the rapid increase in complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman — shows that many telcos are not stepping up to get the right information to consumers and resolve migration issues quickly and effectively."

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