Australians love a good whinge about our internet speeds – and for good reason. For an advanced developed nation, we certainly have some lackluster speeds across most of the country. Even Romania, a small country in Europe, ranks higher than Australia in terms of average internet speeds, and so too does Mongolia. How can two countries many people probably could not place on a map rank higher than Australia for internet speed? Australia could certainly do with an internet speed boost, and luckily gigabit internet speeds may be on the way faster than you think! Read on to find out more about gigabit internet and how you can prepare for it.
What is gigabit internet?
Gigabit internet refers to maximum download speeds achieved of 1Gbps (gigabit per second), which equates to 1000Mbps (megabits per second) – 10 times faster than the fastest currently available in Australia. The fastest download speeds generally afforded to regular households is 100Mbps, which can be achieved through NBN Tier 4. While there are some households with direct fibre connections to the home on much faster speeds than this, 100Mbps seems to be touted as the ‘pinnacle’ in Australian internet. However, internet could get faster sooner than you may think.
When will gigabit internet come to Australia?
The company responsible for the rollout of the NBN, NBN Co, trialled ‘superfast’ broadband in Ballarat, Victoria in April 2017. The tests achieved download speeds of 1.1Gbps – or 1100mbps – on a fixed wireless connection. Currently, this is about 20 times faster than the maximum currently available on a fixed wireless connection – 50Mbps.
- Gigabit speed release dates are yet to be confirmed as it’s just in the testing stage at the moment
- Fixed wireless connections show the most promise, with 100Mbps speeds to be developed in by April 2018 – double what is currently available on the connection
NBN Co partnered with wireless technology companies Ericsson & NetComm Wireless and Qualcomm to deliver the fixed wireless speed test. Speaking to the ABC, Head of Wireless Roy Brown said that the theoretical capacity is there, it’s just a matter of delivering high speeds reliably and consistently.
“We have more spectrum available and now the technology available to exploit it for faster broadband speed… the important thing is to know that the fixed wireless technology will work into the future,” Mr Brown said.
What about fibre connections?
Until more homes get fibre to the premises (FTTP), instead of fibre to the node (FTTN), the future for gigabit speeds seems to be brightest for fixed wireless customers. The proof is in the pudding, as the quest for gigabit speeds was carried out using a fixed wireless connection, instead of a FTTN one. However, much information is still up in the air, but those living rurally – such as places like Ballarat – may see the most benefit sooner.
Which providers offer gigabit speeds?
Currently gigabit speeds were achieved by the NBN Co in test conditions only, but ISP MyRepublic is dedicated to providing gigabit speeds when the time comes. Currently, it has some initiatives to help bring gigabit speeds into the Australian conversation.
- MyRepublic claims to have connected 99% of its NBN customers to NBN Tier 4 speeds, and has expressed interest in creating Australia’s first ‘Gigatown’
‘Gigatown’ is a term used to describe an area that is wholly hooked up to gigabit speeds. New Zealand even has a Gigatown in the form of Dunedin, on the South Island. MyRepublic has poked fun at this fact, stating that the Kiwis are ‘thrashing us’.
- As a result of this, MyRepublic has launched a petition to launch gigabit speeds in Australia and match our Kiwi cousins
Whether this petition will actually be successful remains to be seen, but MyRepublic does seem to be vocal about the topic. In the meantime, having an NBN connection on top tiers – either fixed wireless or fibre – is one of the better ways to get the fastest internet in Australia. Take a look at what MyRepublic dishes out below:
How do I prepare for gigabit speeds?
Your provider should do most of the work for you, but it also pays to get the right router for the NBN, and for the speeds you’ll be experiencing in future. Chances are in a couple years your current router will be outdated anyway, so it pays to equip yourself with the latest standards.
- 11n: This is the standard of router you probably got given with your current plan, if it included a router. This standard was released in 2009 and is capable of up to 300Mbps speeds – enough for now, but probably not enough for the future
- 11ac: These routers may be more expensive, but operate on a dual-band system to prioritise demanding traffic like HD Netflix and large uploads. Most of these routers are capable of up to 1.3Gbps on the 5Ghz band (2.4Ghz being the other band). You could ‘future-proof’ now with an 11ac router
- Standards are usually listed on the box the router comes in.
Buying a decent router is probably the first and most important step you can take to ‘future-proof’ yourself.
- In this case, our wireless router buying guide may be able to help
- Generally speaking, there are other steps you can take to improve your internet speed in the meantime
Overall, gigabit speeds are probably a fair way off until they reach the broad market, so there’s no need to panic. However, it’s probably a good time to start thinking about gigabit internet in general and how you can optimise your internet experience now.
Will gigabit speeds be worth the money?
Pricing information is currently up for debate, but you can bet that as the years go by prices for the NBN will come down. While it’s probably true that gigabit speeds will cost more than slower speeds, you could possibly see no increase in price in your current plan if you’re on NBN Tier 4. However, there is no rock-solid pricing information, so it’s all speculation. Like most things related to technology, prices come down over time. The message with this is – strap yourselves in, because the next few years are bound to get exciting for internet.