Australian broadband falls behind

A recent worldwide broadband quality survey has shown Australia to be lagging behind over 20 other nations in terms of broadband internet speed.

The study, commissioned by Cisco Systems and completed by the Said Business School of Oxford University, evaluated Australia as a country whose networks aren’t capable of handling the 'applications of tomorrow'.

The research infers Australia is not one of the 14 countries able to handle new software and technologies currently being developed and deemed as necessary for a future economy to be at the forefront of innovation.

Australia didn’t even qualify for the category of countries that could 'comfortably enjoy today's applications.' Our networks are on the same playing field as nations like Brazil, Thailand and New Zealand, who are seen as capable, yet not future-focussed.

The broadband 'quality' index showed Australia falling six places on the global list over the last three years, from 15th to 21st. Australia’s fixed broadband internet connections averaged over 5Mbps for the first time in history, but the country still falls behind the world average of 5.9Mbps.

One of the worst results came in the area of the “digital divide”, or the difference between broadband quality and speed in major cities compared with regional locations. Given Australia’s massive geographical landmass, this is not surprising, but the analysis also showed per capita GDP ($45,587) is at such a high level this divide could probably be easily overcome.

Over half of the nations analysed had "conquered the digital divide, with less evident differences between the broadband quality inside and outside their main cities,” according to the report. Australia ranked 53 out of 66, with 38 countries having unified their city and regional areas’ internet systems to a similar standard.

Another negative figure for Australia was the nation’s average upload speed. At just 564kbps, Australia had less than a third of the average speed of all the countries evaluated. This is quite a disheartening fact for those hoping for a bright technological business future, especially as worldwide internet usage trends are increasing at a massive rate.

The Cisco Systems report said broadband usage patterns are diverging, with two main types of home consumption being seen. Basic homes have an average internet speed of around 2.7Mbps and use 20GB of download data per month, whereas an emerging class of “smart and connected home(s)” are now using super-fast speeds of 20Mbps, and a gigantic 500GB of data each month.

The three best countries for broadband in 2010 were Sweden, Denmark and the USA, with Sweden’s current rollout of super-quick LTE 4G mobile wireless broadband taking the spotlight. Australia’s average speed for mobile wireless broadband was woeful, which is a surprise given one quarter of all broadband connections here are received via mobile phone towers. Again the vast geographical landscape could be the issue, but at a ranking of 31st Australia has a lot to improve on.

This disconcerting data could be just what the federal government needs to inspire a quick rollout of its new fibre optic NBN, and its associated improved mobile wireless and satellite broadband technologies.

In the meantime, find fast broadband plans from leading Australian Internet Service Providers.