Broadband measurement shows online gaming stacks up

Friday, 21 April, 2023

Broadband measurement shows online gaming stacks up

The ACCC’s latest Measuring Broadband Australia report has found that consumer connections to online gaming servers over home broadband are up to speed, with NSW and the ACT enjoying the best experience.

The report found that latency to Australian servers for popular online games like Fortnite and League of Legends averaged 15 to 30 milliseconds per test on different NBN fixed-line technologies. This means users generally have a good gaming experience, with minimal stuttering or lag.

Distance to servers is a key influence on gaming experience, according to the report, with latency increasing when the server is further away. Australians playing online games where the server is located overseas may notice a lag or have a poor gaming experience.

In comparison, when a gaming server is located in Australia the latency is lower. Gamers in NSW and the ACT enjoyed the lowest latency for gaming servers located in Australia, averaging between 10 and 20 ms across various games, due to most Australian gaming servers being in Sydney. The average latency increased for these games when measured from states further away from Sydney, reaching over 50 ms in WA.

“While fibre-to-the-premises and fibre-to-the-curb connections generally had the lowest latency, all fixed-line access technologies had relatively low latency for games hosted in Australia. Consumers on fixed wireless connections experienced higher latency than those using fixed-line technologies. This is expected given the nature of fixed wireless technology,” ACCC Commissioner Anna Brakey said.

Intermittent disconnections, or ‘outages’, may also disrupt online gaming experience. Consumers looking to improve their gaming experience should talk to their broadband provider about options to improve the stability of their connection.

The report has also shown that latency does not depend on the selected speed tier, which means that upgrading to a faster plan will not necessarily improve a consumer’s gaming experience.

“We encourage consumers to consider the cost and quality of the various retail plans available and choose the plan that represents the best value to them,” Brakey said.

NBN fixed-line and fixed wireless performance remain steady

NBN fixed-line broadband retailers continue to meet their advertised speed claims, even during the busiest hours. In December 2022, NBN fixed-line services achieved an average download speed of 99.1% of plan speed across all hours, dropping to 97.7% during the busy hours (weekdays from 7–11pm). This result is in line with the corresponding figures of 99.7% and 98.2% in the last report from August 2022.

Broadband retailers included in the report met their advertised speed claims between 88 and 98% of the busy hours in December 2022.

“This is a positive result for consumers as it means they can have confidence that they will enjoy the speeds that they pay for when selecting a fixed-line broadband plan,” Brakey said.

Upload speeds on NBN fixed-line services remained largely steady, delivering on average 85% of plan speed during the busy hours compared to 85.7% in the previous quarter. Upload speed performance is consistently below download speed performance as NBN Co does not overprovision the upload component of its speed tiers, as it does with download.

NBN fixed-wireless services delivered strong average download and upload speeds, consistent with the previous quarter and among the highest results seen during their inclusion in the Measuring Broadband Australia program.

The results for NBN Co’s very high-speed services (known as NBN Home Ultrafast) were in line with results from previous reports, with download speeds showing a slight improvement during busy hours.

Other superfast networks performing well

This report reintroduced results for the Uniti Group’s superfast networks. These networks comprise mostly of fibre-to-the-premise connections and delivered 101% of plan download speed and 89% of plan upload speed on average during busy hours.

Smaller retailers continue to deliver high speeds

Smaller retailers continue to deliver strong performance in high download speeds for consumers. Two of the top three retail service providers for average busy-hour download speeds in this report were smaller providers, not part of the four largest retail service providers.

“The results of some of the smaller retailers reaffirms that they can provide similar, if not better, performance than the larger telcos, which is good for competition,” Brakey said.

“This also reflects the findings in the recent NBN Wholesale Market Indicators Report, which found that smaller providers were gaining market share from the larger providers.”

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