• New ACCC reports show performance improvement during peak hours.
  • NBN ‘Home Ultrafast’ services achieve higher hourly downloads in December 2023 compared to September 2023.
  • Capacity-based charging has led to faster download speeds during busy hours.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) reports that broadband speed performance during peak demand hours has significantly improved for users of NBN 'Home Ultrafast' 1000 Mbps services. 

This improvement follows the removal of capacity-based charging under NBN Co's new wholesale pricing structure.

A bit of background

Broadband speeds are categorised into different tiers, each with a maximum download and upload speed. However, actual speeds can vary due to factors like network demand and technology. 

NBN Co implemented a new wholesale pricing structure on December 1, 2023, as part of its revised Special Access Undertaking, which governs how broadband providers access the NBN.

According to the ACCC's latest Measuring Broadband Australia report for December 2023, NBN 'Home Ultrafast' services achieved average hourly download speeds of 818-851 Mbps throughout the day, compared to 686-851 Mbps in the previous September 2023 report.

Source: Internet performance in busy hours improves under new NBN pricing | ACCC

Additionally, both reports showed that the minimum hourly speed occurred at 8pm. Download performance during busy hours on NBN 100 Mbps and 250 Mbps fixed-line plans was marginally higher than in the ACCC's previous report.

Source: Internet performance in busy hours improves under new NBN pricing | ACCC

ACCC Commissioner Anna Brakey noted, "Under NBN Co's old wholesale pricing regime, very high-speed services faced more constraints during the busy hours compared to the lower speed fixed-line plans."

The ACCC reports that the removal of capacity-based charging on 100 Mbps and above plans has led to faster download speeds during busy hours, as broadband providers no longer need to purchase as much capacity to meet peak demand.

In December 2023, the average download speed for NBN fixed-line connections across all speed tiers reached a record high of 99.3% of the connection's maximum plan speed, up from 98.8% in the previous quarter. Similarly, average NBN fixed-line upload speeds also reached a record high of 87.8% of maximum plan speeds during busy hours.

However, the report highlights that the number of consumers on fibre-to-the-node connections underperforming on NBN 100 Mbps plans remains relatively high. These underperforming services rarely reach their maximum plan speed.

Consumers experiencing these issues can ask about options for upgrading to a fibre connection without committing to a higher-priced plan.

What about NBN fixed wireless?

NBN fixed wireless connections recorded average download speeds during busy hours of 97.9% of plan speed in December 2023, compared to 89.5% in the previous report. The average upload speed during busy hours was 68.1% of plan speed, compared to 62.9% in the previous quarter, potentially reflecting NBN Co's upgrades to the fixed wireless network.

The report also includes results for the broadband provider Leaptel for the first time. Leaptel's average download performance during busy hours was 98.4% of its maximum plan speeds in December 2023.

Commissioner Brakey welcomed the inclusion of additional retailers and emerging broadband technologies in the monitoring program, stating that it better reflects the growing range of broadband offerings in the market.

The ACCC is also considering whether satellite services such as NBN SkyMuster and Starlink could be monitored as part of the Measuring Broadband Australia program. Consumers using satellite services can sign up to volunteer via the Measuring Broadband Australia website.

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