ACCC says NBN Co's overprovisioning allowance improved fixed wireless speeds

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ACCC says NBN Co's overprovisioning allowance improved fixed wireless speeds

NBN fixed wireless download speeds are reaching closer to advertised speeds over the past year, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), thanks to NBN Co changing its overprovisioning allowance in 2021.

In the agency’s latest Measuring Broadband Australia quarterly report, NBN speeds in December 2021 were reaching 93.4 percent of plan speed during all hours and 79.8 percent of plan speed during the busy hours of 7 to 11pm.

In comparison, download speeds in December 2020 - when the ACCC first started measuring NBN fixed wireless - were at 78.5 percent and 68.4 percent respectively.

The ACCC said the improvements were a result of NBN Co allowing a 15 percent overprovisioning allowance on the download component of NBN fixed wireless plans starting July 2021, with some retail service providers (RSPs) passing on the change to customers.

Upload speeds however have worsened, declining from 52.2 percent of plan speed in busy hours in December 2020 to 48.9 percent of plan speed in December 2021.

NBN Fixed Wireless Plus, the network provider’s best-effort service for fixed wireless, also saw improvements, with some occasionally reaching maximum speeds of over 80 Mbps. Fixed Wireless Plus is promising speeds of 75 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload speeds.

“It is pleasing to see consumers on NBN’s fixed wireless networks are also benefiting from the improved download speeds that we have seen on the NBN fixed-line network,” ACCC commissioner Anna Brakey said.

“Upload speeds, however, which are increasingly important for a range of applications including working from home, gaming and sharing files, are generally flat on both fixed-line and fixed wireless.”

Fixed line services are also close to advertised speeds, and in some instances even beating them, reporting between 95.1 and 103.3 percent of plan speed during busy hours in December 2021.

“Speeds are holding up well when the majority of Australians are online at the same time during the busy evening hours,” Brakey said.

Tasmanian RSP Launtel has also been added to the ACCC’s report for the first time, which had achieved 98.4 percent of download plan speed during the busy evening hours, compared to an average of 97.4 percent across all major NBN plans and retail service providers.

“Having an emerging retailer with above average results to the larger telcos is good news for consumers and competition in the residential broadband market,” Brakey added.

Fibre-to-the node however remains to be a sore spot, with connections rarely recording speeds above 75 percent of their plan speeds increasing to 13 percent in December 2021.

Brakey said, “There are a significant number of consumers on fibre to the node connections that are not performing as well as other network connections. It is disappointing that progress by NBN Co and retailers to improve these connections has stalled.”

Another addition to the Measuring Broadband report was results for superfast broadband access services supplied by Uniti Group, which operates fibre internet networks through its OptiComm and LBNCo brands.

“Expanding the program to cover additional networks improves the long term value of the MBA program by making it useful to more broadband consumers. It also enables us to identify potential areas for improvement on NBN and other superfast networks,” Brakey said.

Uniti’s fibre to the premises (FTTP) connections were 101.6 percent of plan speed during the busy evening hours in December 2021, while NBN’s FTTP connections had average download speeds of 103.1 percent of plan speed during busy hours.

The ACCC added Uniti services experienced higher drop-outs, or outages, per day than NBN services on average, recording 1.75 daily outages, compared to 0.3 on NBN services.

Upload speeds on Uniti FTTP connections were on average 88.1 percent of plan speeds during busy hours, compared to 90.9 percent for the NBN equivalent.

However overall, Uniti’s FTTP connections performed better than all of NBN’s fixed-line technologies combined, including fibre to the node, fibre to the building, fibre to the curb and hybrid fibre coaxial services.

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