NBN Home Ultrafast internet improves drastically, ACCC finds

Home Ultrafast NBN plans have improved in recent months, delivering more consistent speeds during peak hours, according to the ACCC’s latest report.

Throughout December 2023, Home Ultrafast NBN plans – connections capable of reaching download speeds of up to 1,000Mbps – averaged hourly download speeds of 818-851Mbps.

It’s a decent improvement over September 2023’s figures, which saw average speeds fluctuate between 686-851Mbps. Across both testing periods, 8pm was the slowest hour.

These figures come from the consumer watchdog’s Measuring Broadband Australia report, an independent quarterly measure of Australia’s internet performance. Reportedly, NBN 100 plans and NBN 250 plans saw a slight performance increase.

The ACCC points to wholesale NBN price changes as the reason behind the high-speed internet improvements. According to ACCC Commissioner Anna Brakey, the removal of capacity-based charging led to faster speeds.

“Under NBN Co’s old wholesale pricing regime, very high-speed services faced more constraints during the busy hours compared to the lower speed fixed-line plans,” Brakey said.

“With capacity-based charging on 100Mbps and above plans eliminated, we observed faster download speeds on those plans during the busy hours as broadband providers no longer have to purchase sufficient capacity to meet peak demand.”

Demand certainly has increased in recent times, with a new traffic record set late last year following a major Fortnite update and Call of Duty launch. For the most part, Australia’s infrastructure seems to be holding up, with all-time highs observed across both average download and upload speeds.

Fibre to the Node (FTTN) connections are the outlier here, only averaging 86.3% of any given plan’s download speed between 7pm and 11pm.

What’s the most popular NBN plan?

This is where things get even more interesting. There was a recent trend of people abandoning NBN 50 plans in favour of the faster NBN 100 tier. However, the latest wholesale market data shows a big swing in the opposite direction.

Residential NBN 50 plans grew to 50.8% of the market, up from 42.5%, while NBN 100 shrank from 25.5% to 16.6%. Meanwhile, connections faster than 100Mbps saw a slight lift to 3.5%.

NBN Home internet plans ACCC Dec 2023
Image: ACCC.

Cost of living would likely be a factor, as people choose slower plans to cut back on spending. Another factor is that many internet service providers (ISPs) have yet to pass on the increased costs of slower plans. Aussie Broadband was one of the first to do so, but not all ISPs have followed suit.

Of the ISPs measured, Exetel provided the highest average download speeds. During busy hours, the company’s NBN services averaged 101.8% of its plan speeds. In second place by the barest margin was Telstra, averaging 101.7%.

NBN Co also recently announced plans to increase the speeds of NBN 100 plans and above by the end of 2024. This could lead to a higher uptake of faster internet plans, although there are concerns that those on slower tiers could be left behind.

The ACCC is also exploring the possibility of measuring satellite internet, like Telstra’s new Starlink service, as part of its future reporting. If you’re keen to participate, you can register your interest online.

You can also check out the current cheapest NBN plans to save on your internet bill.

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