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ACCC report: Exetel upsets big telcos with fastest NBN speeds

Wondering how your NBN plan ranks when it comes to broadband speeds? The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released its latest report into NBN speeds across the country — and in a shocking upset, it’s an ‘underdog’ telco who has soared ahead of the big names to lock in the best performance of this quarter.

The ACCC’S 14th Measuring Broadband Australia Report tracked the average download and upload speeds of Australia’s best-known NBN providers throughout May of this year. Eleven telcos were included in this quarter’s report, including previous winner Optus, as well as Telstra, TPG, Vodafone, iiNet, Dodo/iPrimus, Aussie Broadband, MyRepublic, Exetel and Superloop.

While the recent ACCC rankings have seen the number-one spot become a game of hot potato between Optus and TPG, it’s a smaller name provider that has finally pipped the NBN giants at the post. Exetel recorded the most consistently fast download speeds during the busy evening test hours, as well as the best-performing upload speeds — outstripping all other included providers over fixed-line NBN connections.

Fastest NBN download speeds

The ACCC analysed the results of 239,208 download speed tests, performed on 1,144 fixed-line NBN connections through the May period, to determine the average download performance of each included telco. All tests were conducted during the peak traffic hours of between 7pm and 11pm, and results have been calculated as a percentage of the maximum speed attainable on each connection and plan. The closer a telco’s overall result is to 100%, the faster their plans performed on average over the test month.

In a first for the ACCC’s reporting, two telcos have finally achieved 100%-plus average scores. Exetel logged an outstanding 100.5%, narrowly beating out Optus’ 100.4% to cinch that number-one download speed spot. Telstra achieved a third-place score of 99.8%, while March’s winner TPG rounded out the top four with 98.3%.

While the ‘maximum download speed’ is generally the most customers can expect to achieve on a plan — for example, 50Mbps on an NBN 50 speed tier — NBN Co often over-provisions the download component of popular tiers, meaning customers can now achieve speeds slightly faster than their plan’s maximum.

Both Exetel and Optus’ average download speeds were exceptional, indicating a consistently fast performance from each telco even during the most heavily congested traffic times. Although these results don’t guarantee you’ll experience the maximum available speed on plans from these providers, the ACCC’s findings do suggest that, for customers with fixed-line connections, Exetel and Optus are worth considering if reliable speed is a priority.

The full download speed results are:

  1. Exetel: 100.5%
  2. Optus: 100.4%
  3. Telstra: 99.8%
  4. TPG: 98.3%
  5. MyRepublic: 98.0%
  6. Aussie Broadband: 96.9%
  7. iiNet: 95.4%
  8. Superloop: 95.3%
  9. Vodafone: 95.2%
  10. Dodo & iPrimus: 92.2%

In more good news, every one of the included providers showed improved speeds when compared to the previous reporting period. The biggest jump in speeds was recorded by Dodo and iPrimus, with an average speed improvement of 5.4% over three months, followed by Vodafone with 4.3%. MyRepublic’s average speeds increased by 3.7%, Superloop’s by 2.6%, and Telstra’s by 2.2%, leading to an average speed of 98.4% of the maximum across all providers during busy hours.

“The performance gap between retail service providers’ download speed metrics has narrowed significantly in recent reports, however individual consumer experiences by retailer still vary,” said ACCC Commissioner Anna Brakey.

Source: ACCC

To see how NBN plans and prices from all eleven included telcos stack up, you can compare NBN 50 options below. The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN 50) plans from Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our NBN comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

NBN 1000 speeds

This is also the second ACCC report to look at the performance of ‘very high speed’ NBN services, e.g. gigabit-speed NBN 1000. The ACCC’s August report performed 14,908 tests on NBN 1000 services, and found an average download speed of between 617Mbps and 715Mbps across these connections (with a maximum available plan speed of 1000Mbps).

Download speeds decreased considerably during the busy 7pm-11pm evening period, falling by an average of 98Mbps from the day’s fastest speed. However, 33.2% of tests performed overall did achieve a download speed of at least 900Mbps — so these plans are undoubtedly much faster than the previously-fastest NBN 100 speed tier, even if performance isn’t as consistent.

One reason for underperforming NBN 1000 plans could be equipment limitations, according to the ACCC.

“Our testing has revealed that some volunteers on very high speed plans are unable to receive speeds above 100Mbps to connected devices due to limitations on Ethernet ports on some home gateways,” said Ms Brakey.

“We encourage consumers on these higher speed plans to contact their retail service providers to check that they have equipment that can support their plan speeds.”

Fastest Netflix streaming speeds

With the demand for fast and ultra-HD streaming exploding in the last 18 months, the ACCC now includes data on how well each provider handles multiple Netflix streams on a single fixed-line connection. Every telco was able to support two simultaneous ultra high-definition streams in 100% of tests on NBN 50 plans, with the exception of Aussie Broadband. Telstra, Dodo and iPrimus were also able to stream three UHD videos from Netflix successfully in 100% of tests on the NBN 50 tier.

In NBN 100 tests, again almost all included providers supported two UHD streams in 100% of tests, with only Aussie Broadband falling short at 93%. 100% of iiNet, Optus, Telstra and TPG tests were able to successfully stream three UHD videos simultaneously,  and both Telstra and TPG were able to stream four UHD videos on 100% of services tested.

Source: ACCC

Fastest NBN upload speeds

Exetel has also landed in the top spot for average upload speeds in this quarter’s report, scoring 88.9% — well ahead of MyRepublic’s 87.7%. In third place was Vodafone with 87.1%, while most improved was Optus, with a 2.4% increase in upload speeds since the previous quarter.

The full upload speed results are:

  1. Exetel: 88.9%
  2. MyRepublic: 87.7%
  3. Vodafone: 87.1%
  4. Superloop: 86.4%
  5. Telstra: 85.6%
  6. Optus: 85.1%
  7. TPG: 85.0%
  8. Dodo & iPrimus: 82.5%
  9. Aussie Broadband: 82.4%
  10. iiNet: 82.0%

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