• Not all providers are equal
  • Most providers buy access off other networks
  • Telstra, Internode, TPG and Optus all own their networks

ADSL2+ is currently the main type of broadband internet Australians use to get fast, stable internet at home or in the office. Just about every Australian Internet Service Provider (ISP) can offer you ADSL2+, but the speeds from each provider may vary, and this can be because of a number of reasons.

The maximum speed for an ADSL2+ connection is 24,000kbps or 24Mbps. ADSL2+ runs on your copper telephone landline, although with Naked DSL you don’t need the telephone element of the line to be active. However, not all Australian ISPs offer an ADSL2+ service with this 24Mbps maximum speed, and it is important to realise ISPs that do only offer speeds of “up to 24Mbps”.

Besides each ISP having its own type of internet equipment affecting its maximum speed, there are numerous other reasons why the ADSL2+ broadband speeds entering your home may be slower than what was advertised. Here are some of the main issues that could affect your ADSL2+ speed:

How far do you live from the local telephone exchange?

This is usually the most important factor affecting the speed an ADSL2+ connection is when it enters your property. The further you are from the local phone exchange the more speed is lost, and thus the slower your ADSL2+ connection is.

For example, let’s say you live around 1km from the exchange. This doesn’t mean the exchange is 1km away by line of sight, as the cabling in the ground is often much longer in length than a straight line. You may live 500 metres from an exchange and still be 1km away in terms of copper wire cabling.

If your house is 1km away via copper wire on a 24Mbps speed, you may expect speeds of around 16Mbps. However, there are a huge number of factors that could impede the ADSL2+ signal, and so your speed could be a little or a lot slower than this approximate speed.

Theoretically, if there were no other issues affecting the line speed, someone living 1.5km to 3km away from a phone exchange could expect speeds of up to 11Mbps, while those who live 3km to 4.5km away might see speeds of around 6Mbps.
Other factors that may be affecting your speed:

Line Quality:

The quality and configuration of your copper phone line is also of major importance. If the copper wire has deteriorated over time, has bad joints, poor insulation, or other infrastructure “interferers” like bridge taps or loading coils, your ADSL2+ speed will be slower than optimum.

Line Profile:

You could also ask your ISP about your “line profile”, as this can be altered to either increase speed or stability. Sometimes it may be worth trading off some stability for a faster speed that only occasionally drops its connection.

Other services on the line:

Other digital services may be employed on the same copper wire cabling by different ADSL customers, plus electrical interference can also play a role if electrical motors are being used in the area. How many people are online simultaneously can definitely affect your ADSL2+ connection speed.

Within the home:

Then there is the issue of how your copper wiring is set-up within your home – the use of a central filter will provide the best performance. You’ll also need to consider the kind of modem you are using, how your computer is set-up, and the capacity of the computer you are accessing at the other end.

In December 2006, ISP Internode took a random sample of its customers and analysed their respective ADSL2+ download speeds. 13.4% of connections were higher than 20Mbps,    27.7% had speeds of between 15Mbps and 20Mbps, 22.1% between 10Mbps and 15Mbps, 23.0% between 5Mbps and 10Mbps, and 13.8% of less than 5Mbps.

Dropout rates and interference issues:

Another important factor to think about is just because your ADSL1 connection was stable doesn’t mean your line will be able to handle the faster speeds as well. “Packet loss” or dropout rates can increase with a faster speed, so getting your ISP to slow down the connection a tiny bit could fix the problem if it has arisen. However, if your speed is too slow it may be worth asking the ISP if they can change performance parameters. Your speed may increase with no instability side effects.

If your line speed changes over time, this is because the conditions affecting your line’s connection are not static. The main issue is the copper line getting older and degrading in quality. For example, an aging line may not work as well in certain types of weather, like rainy or cold conditions.

Another problem you may come across is when other ADSL services in your area are being shared on the same cable bundle. This causes “cross pair interference”. There may not be a lot you can do about this issue.

What you can do to get the fastest ADSL2+ speed possible:

ADSL2+ Modem issues:

There are numerous issues you can combat on your own in order to ensure the best ADSL2+ connection possible. Your ADSL2+ modem/router is of paramount importance. Try “cycling” it, or restarting it on occasion, as if left untouched the device can run at lower quality standards. Also noteworthy, sometimes a faulty modem will work, but won’t provide the maximum speed possible.

Try using a different ADSL2+ modem and see if your speed changes. As each modem has different microchip settings, a new modem may make a big difference. Plus, you need to be aware cheap and low quality ADSL2+ modems exist, and you will get what you paid for in the long run.

Make sure the modem is ADSL2+ compatible, and if so, that it is set to the ADSL2+ modem setting, and not just ADSL. ADSL1 runs at speeds of up to 8,000kbps or 8Mpbs, which can seem pretty quick, but it may only be one third of your potential speed.
Note: If you live far away from the phone exchange and only receive speeds of 4Mbps to 6Mbps, setting your modem to ADSL1 may provide you with a faster speed and a more stable connection. This sounds weird, but it’s true.

Central line filter:

The central line filter can make a huge difference to your connection. This is because any old, corroded, or complex wiring, or low quality filtering within your home will be bypassed.

Next is the issue of non-ADSL devices being used on your telephone landline. These must be filtered properly, although a central filter will usually take care of the problem. Phones, FAX machines, back-to-base alarm systems, Foxtel box phone line connections and EFTPOS machines all need attending to.
Make sure all in-line filters used are of high quality. A good way to test filters or the affect of these devices on your ADSL2+ speed is to disconnect them all and see how the service runs. This way you can discern which device or filter is causing the speed to decrease or the connection to dropout.

Note: Wi-Fi modems can also be affected by Bluetooth devices and cordless phones tuned into the same frequency range.

ADSL2+ speeds by provider:

Of course not all ISPs are available in all locations, so your first move will be to see which companies provide ADSL2+ connections in your area.

BigPond: As Telstra owns Australia’s main copper wire telephone infrastructure, BigPond can offer ADSL2+ in more locations than any other ISP. However, as BigPond’s price is often very expensive when compared to its counterparts, it may prove cheaper for you to go for a fast ADSL 1 connection with a different ISP. BigPond ADSL2+ speeds run up to 20Mbps.

TPG: TPG runs its ADSL2+ broadband off of the Telstra network. In metropolitan areas it can provide speeds of up to 24Mbps on ADSL2+ or Naked DSL connections via its own DSLAM equipment in the phone exchange. In regional areas TPG rents Telstra’s equipment, which costs users a little more, and speeds run up to 20Mbps. For more information about TPG plans call us on 1300 106 571.

Optus uses its own network infrastructure in many metropolitan locations, and rents Telstra phone lines in other areas. ADSL2+ speeds run up to 20Mbps. Call Optus on 1300 137 897 for more information.

iiNet uses the Telstra network the majority of the time, and offers ADSL2+ speeds of up to 24Mbps. iiNet says more than half of its customers (iiNet is now the second biggest ISP in Australia behind Telstra BigPond) receive speeds of over 10Mbps. Call iiNet on 1300 106 571 for more information.

Internode: Internode runs on the Telstra and Optus networks, and offers speeds of up to 24Mbps. In various locations Internode has a special deal with Telstra allowing them to offer ADSL2+ where other ISPs cannot. In some areas Internode offers ReADSL2+ (Reach extended), which is a boosted form of ADSL2+ for people who live a long way from the telephone exchange.

Exetel: Exetel used to say its ADSL2+ ran at speeds of up to 18Mbps. These days it provides ADSL2+ services on the Telstra, Optus and AAPT networks. Exetel now says average speeds from 100 users on the Telstra infrastructure ran at 8Mbps, while the same number of people on Optus Exetel connections recorded speeds of 9Mbps.

iPrimus: iPrimus runs on the Telstra and Optus networks, offering ADSL2+ speeds of up to 20Mbps. Call iPrimus to discuss current deals on 1300 137 794.

Dodo: Dodo uses a mixture of Telstra and Optus lines to deliver its ADSL2+ services. Speeds run at up to 20Mbps. Call Dodo on 1300 136 793 for more details about its plans.

SpinTel: SpinTel uses both the Telstra and Optus networks to provide ADSL2+ services, with speeds of up to 24Mbps. Call SpinTel on 1300 381 277 for more information about its plans.

Club Telco: Club Telco uses the Telstra infrastructure to offer its ADSL2+ connections, but doesn’t specify the maximum download speed of its connections. Call Club Telco on 1300 138 155 for more information.

Eftel: Eftel says its ADSL2+ connections run at speeds of up to 24Mbps using the Telstra network to deliver its service. Call Eftel on 1300 106 571 for more details about its plans.